WGA fetes 'Country,' 'Juno'

Fun in N.Y. at scaled-back event

Diablo Cody's "Juno" took the prize for original screenplay and Ethan and Joel Coen's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel "No Country for Old Men" was the winner in the adapted screenplay category as the WGA West and the WGA East announced their annual awards Saturday night.

Because of the writers strike, the WGAW did not hold its customary awards dinner and instead simply issued a news release, while the WGAE held a scaled-back reception at the Hudson Theatre in New York.

Having also picked up awards from the DGA and the PGA, the Coens' "No Country" has to be considered the front-runner heading into the Feb. 24 Academy Awards.

The writers also recognized Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," an investigation into interrogation techniques, as best documentary screenplay.

On the TV side, the dramatic series honors went to HBO's "The Wire," written by Ed Burns, Chris Collins, Dennis Lehane, David Mills, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon and William F. Zorzi. Comedy series kudos went to NBC's "30 Rock," written by Brett Baer, Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Dave Finkel, Daisy Gardner, Donald Glover, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher and Ron Weiner.

The WGAE event reflected the upbeat spirits surrounding the pending resolution to the strike. WGAE president Michael Winship kicked off the night saying to great cheers that he was "hopeful" that the union is "on the cusp of a revolutionary deal for all of us."

Walter Bernstein, who won the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for contributions that have brought honor and dignity to writers, echoed Winship's political sentiment in accepting his award. He lauded the level of "pride and solidarity (of recent months) that I've never seen in all the years I've been in the guild."

Bernstein also quipped: "If I have brought honor and respect to writers, I apologize (since it's the last thing they need). What they need is money."

"Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers, fresh from his recent role as strike captain, hosted and set the tone for subsequent comic riffs from Richard Belzer, Rachel Dratch and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Addressing his fellow strikers, Meyers joked, "I can't begin to tell you how sick and tired I am of all of you."

Among the other awards announced on the two coasts, AMC's "Mad Men" was hailed as best new series. The winner for episodic drama was "The Second Coming" episode of "The Sopranos," while "The Office" episode "The Job" took the prize for episodic comedy. "Pandemic" was chosen in the longform original category, while "The Company: A Story of the CIA" prevailed in the longform adaptation competition.

"Kill Gil Volumes 1&2," from "The Simpsons," scored in TV animation. "The Colbert Report" was the winner in the comedy/variety category.

Recipients of the WGAW's 2008 honorary and service awards — including the Screen Laurel Award; Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television; Paul Selvin Award; Morgan Cox Award; and Valentine Davies Award — will be honored at an event later this year.

Recipients of the WGAE's other honorary awards will be announced and recognized at another time.

A complete list of winners is available at THR.com.

Gregg Kilday reported from Los Angeles; Georg Szalai reported from New York.