'The Descendants' Writers Win Scripter Award

Merie Wallace/Fox Searchlight
"The Descendants"

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and Kaui Hart Hemmings beat out "A Dangerous Method," "Moneyball," "Jane Eyre" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

The Descendants screenwriters Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash as well as author Kaui Hart Hemmings, who wrote the book the Fox Searchlight drama is based on, won the 24th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award.

The Scripters, which recognize the author and scribes of a produced literary work-to-film adaptation, were held at a gala ceremony Saturday night at USC.

The Descendants team beat out the writers behind A Dangerous Method (screenwriter Christopher Hampton and author John Kerr), Jane Eyre (scribe Moira Buffini and author Charlotte Bronte), Moneyball (screenwriters Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin and author Michael Lewis), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (screenwriters Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, and author John le Carré)

Descendants has been in the mix for most major awards this season and the screenwriting trio has already won the Satellite award and the National Board of Review. Payne, who also directed the movie, Faxon and Rash are also up for a WGA Award, an Indie Spirit and an Academy Award. Descendants is the first novel from Hemmings, who lives and writes in Hawaii.

Accepting were Rash and Naxon along with Hemmings (Payne was not present).

Paul Haggis, who earlier received the Scripter Literary Achievement award, paraphrased Albert Camus by saying “All great things have ridiculous beginnings” and talked of how despite parents’ desire to have their children live safe lives and save careers, he believed it was important “to encourage children to be ridiculous” since that is from where greatness springs.

Taylor Hackford, who was the dinner co-chair with Helen Mirren, spoke about the challenges of making adaptations, whom many consider easier to make than an original movie since you’re working from a novel that already gives you plot and characters, and talked of his experiences filming Dolores Claiborne, the translation of a Stephen King book. “It’s a real art form and it’s fragile,” he said.