Writers Had a Lot to Say at The WGA Award Show

By Raquel Vasquez
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Javier Grillo Marxuach Screenwriter and Producer Nominated for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Photo by Lina Baker.

If you’re one of those people that diligently sees all the years movies in time for the Oscars, this story is for you. The 72nd Annual 2020 Writers Guild Awards Show was held at the Beverly Hilton this weekend. The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, media, news, radio, and promotional categories. The Writers Guild of America is the very needed and appreciated labor union representing writers. The Writers Guild Awards has been a tradition since 1949. Who are the writers that take on the task of turning a novel into a script? These are the kind of artists you many not hear about in the nightly news, but they are an elite group of talent. This is their day of recognition and honor. A day to basque in their glory, nominated and voted for by their professional peers, a very literary day indeed.

The Beverly Hilton has decades of history and infamy with its unpretentious driveway and hidden entrance. I was excited as I pulled up to the valet parking. The hotel was elegant yet simple. The Wilshire Ballroom was roped off and red carpets led the way to the beginning of the Guilds ceremony. The red carpet event was hours of writers and presenters all arriving and taking a moment to speak with the media and have their picture taken. The red carpet was followed by dinner and cocktails.

Host Ana Gasteyer’s monologue started with an oxymoron, “Good evening day drinkers!” She went on to tease the show because “It’s during the day, and it’s not televised.” Ana sang a parody of Elton John’s Rocket Man with lyrics that included the nominated blockbuster screenplay titles and innuendos that where hysterically funny. It’s amazing she had time to come up for air to host the event considering the actress, comedian, singer and songwriter, has recurring roles in multiple series on four different networks. After her song gave us all a hearty laugh it was the perfect time to get on with the show. She finished her monologue by saying “The show should be pretty short since none of you have agents to thank.”

The award ceremony presenters were all A- listers. The Emmy winning Jane Lynch best known for Glee and currently starring in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel presented Best Adapted Movie Screenplay to Jojo Rabbit, written by Taika Waititi based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens.

Screenwriter Charles Randolph Receives the Paul Selvin Award for Bombshell. Photo by Lina Baker.

Kate Hudson presented the WGA’s 2020 Valentine Davies Award to writer, director , producer Brad Falchuk. The award is named after Valentine Davies, an American film and television writer best known for writing classics like Miracle on 34th Street and The Glenn Miller Story. The veneration shown for Falchuk is well deserved not only for his work in the entertainment industry (The Politician, Glee, American Horror Story) but also for his humanitarian work advocating literacy through arts and education. Brad Falchuk dedicated his award to his recently passed father, his “mentor.”

The statuesque Gina Davis presented the Paul Selvin Award to Screenwriter Charles Randolph in recognition of the script he wrote for Bombshell. Writers like Randolph are not average human beings. A former professor of philosophy and cultural studies, Randolph began his film career after spending time in LA. Bombshell is a powerful piece to have been written by a man, especially before the Me Too movement. It has been noted in interviews that Randolph didn’t write the screenplay for women or their movement, “It was for men.” Randolph gave an earnest acceptance speech closing with “Lets piss off twitter, let’s create complicated characters that can’t be labeled!”

SNL’s Laraine Newman was the presenter for the WGA’s 2020 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. The prestigious award is presented to a Guild member who has “advanced the literature of television and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer.” This year’s award went to television comedy writer Merrill Markoe. Markoe is best known as co-creator and original head writer of The David Letterman Show. She is also the author of eight best-selling novels, remember I mentioned not average people here. “This is the first time I’ve ever won anything where I wasn’t surrounded by 10 guys in baseball caps,” said Markoe in her acceptance speech. She’s the first female ever to be the head writer of a late night talk show.

After years of working with The David Letterman Show, Markoe went on to earn six Emmy nominations and shared three Emmy Awards for her work on Late Night with David Letterman. Markoe has been a contributing writer to Rolling Stone, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Us, People, Esquire, and Glamour magazines. If that isn’t enough for you to see why she’s so deserving of this award, let me mention that she has also written for The Bob Newhart Show, Moonlighting, Sex In The City, The Garry Shandling Show and so many more. This is The Writers Guild of America’s highest award for television writing and is named after one of the most influential writers of entertainment history.

Diane Keaton presented the WGA’s 2020 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement. Nancy Meyers was the recipient of this award, known for the blockbuster hits Private Benjamin, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s complicated, and The Holiday. The Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to members who have “advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter.” Nancy Meyers directed The romantic comedy What Women Want, Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II. Meyers is the highest grossing female filmmaker in Hollywood box office history.

SNL’s Laraine Newman Presented the WGAW 2020 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award. Photo by Lina Baker.

All the invited guests were entertained with awards going for Original Screenplay; Parasite Written by Bong Joon Ho, and Han Jin Won, Documentary Screenplay; The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Written by Alex Gibney HBO Documentary Films, Episodic Drama; Tern Haven Written by Will Tracy for HBO, Ryan O’Connell won for Original Short Form for Special on Netflix, Episodic Comedy went to Pilot Written by Liz Feldman for Dead to Me on Netflix, Original Longform; Chernobyl Written by Craig Mazin for HBO, Animation went to Dan Vebber for The Simpsons Thanksgiving of Horror. Documentary Script- Current Events winner was Trump’s Trade War Written by Rick Young for PBS. Many writers won for many categories such as Documentary Script, On Air Promotion, Drama Series, Comedy Series, New Series, Comedy Variety Talk Series, Radio, and about six more categories. All of the writers that received honors could not fit in this story, and neither could all of the categories be squeezed into the two hour show. 

Henry Winkler closed the evening with a great quote saying, “I wouldn’t have a job unless you did your job first!”

For an award show thats poked fun at for lacking public interest, I promise you that these were the best acceptance speeches ever! Profanity was not shunned, and laughs came naturally. What a great night. Thank you to all the writers that grab our attention, make us read, laugh, think and feel every day.

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