UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: The 66th annual WGA Awards were handed out tonight in “simultaneous” ceremonies on both coasts — the WGA West is at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and the WGA East at the Edison Ballroom. Like last year, the NY crew announced its main awards well ahead of the LA ceremony. In the end, Billy Ray was the somewhat surprising winner of the Adapted Screenplay award for Sony’s Captain Phillips while Spike Jonze took the Original Screenplay honor for Warner Bros’ Her. If the time snafu sounds familiar it is; last year the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour, meaning award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickled into the WGAW audience to ruin the suspense. Tonight, word began filtering into the JW Marriott of the main winners about 2 hours into the show. Ray and Jonze, who were in LA, came to the podium a good 40+ minutes after their awards were unveiled at the Edison and pretended to look surprised — all of the final big awards seemed to lose steam as most in the room new the winners.
On the TV side, Breaking Bad won both the Best Drama and Episodic Drama categories for the second time in three years and the third consecutive Best Drama trophy for the series’ final installment. House Of Cards picked up the first WGA Award for Netflix, taking the New Series honor. The streaming service led the network pack this year with six nominations as the guild amended its rules this year to allow eligibility for Netflix series that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Veep won its first major series award with its Comedy Series win tonight over the likes of Modern Family, which was looking to take back the crown after losing last year to FX’s Louie. The fellow HBO comedy Veep launched, Girls, won the New Series award last year.
“Every writer deserves the kind of luck I’ve had. I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips,” said Ray, who was also nominated for an Oscar. “Capt. Phillps wrote this story, I just wrote it down.” The feature film competition this year was almost as interesting for what’s not in the running vs. what is. The most notable absences were Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave and fellow nominees Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena – the guild only includes screenplays that were produced under its signatory agreements. Ray’s win probably vaults him into the conversation with 12 Years.
Said Jonze, also an Oscar nominee: ”This is a high honor coming from the Writers Guild. … It’s a high honor coming from writers. In a way this is like an award for pain. A specfic pain that writers know. The highs and lows of sitting there by yourself. I thank you guys for that.”
Related: 2014 WGA Award Nominations
Also tonight in LA, Mel Brooks presented the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement to Paul Mazursky, Henry Winkler presented the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing to Garry Marshall, Jennifer Tilly presented the Valentine Davies Award to Sam Simon for his community service and humanitarian efforts, screenwriter Bob Eisele presented the Morgan Cox Award posthumously to late screenwriter Thomas C. Cook for guild service, and WGA West VP Howard A. Rodman presented the Paul Selvin Award to Alex Gibney for his screenplay We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks. In NY, Dee Rees presented James Schamus with the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for bringing honor and dignity to writers; The Wire and Treme actor Wendell Pierce presented the Hunter Award for career achievement to David Simon, and Philip V. Pilato was presented with The Jablow Award for his service to the guild by last year’s recipient, Bob Schneider, the WGA East Secretary-Treasurer.
Here’s how it went down tonight in LA, with Anna Raya, Diane Haithman and Anthony D’Alessandro on the scene in LA.
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We’re not trying to jinx anything but the LA show is just starting but NY host Colin Quinn has already finished and introduced the first presenters. Steady guys. (UPDATE: OK they’re not tweeting winners and there’s no live-feed — so they could be done by now!) Meanwhile, LA host Brad Garrett isn’t getting much reaction for his stand-up start — he’s known for being blue onstage. This was among many that didn’t work: One about guild negotiations beginning Monday so maybe now is a good time for his joke writers to walk out. OK, it officially went silent when he made a Woody Allen kids joke — and then another. Ouch. Some other jokes:
“I think I was starting off on the wrong foot when I went over to the writer of Gravity and ask him to valet my car. I had a feeling that it was written by Mexicans when the spaceship wouldn’t start.” “Everyone, hold your groans until my dance routine for Fruitvale Station.” “Excuse me if I’m under the weather, I caught an STD while watching Wolf Of Wall Street.” “I understand Nebraska was shot in color, but Bruce Dern is so old, the film came out black and white.” “One thing about American Hustle, I want to be buried in Jennifer Lawrence when I die. What I meant is head-first. For those of you not following me — up to my sack.” And finally: “I know what you’re thinking. This guy has a lot of nerve for someone who doesn’t work.” Onto the awards…
“Hogcock!” (30 Rock), Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock; NBC
Burditt and Carlock aren’t in the room but the winning episode was the first part of the 30 Rock series finale, which also earned Beth McCarthy Miller a DGA Award last month. This marks 30 Rock‘s first WGA award in three years.
“Confessions” (Breaking Bad), Written by Gennifer Hutchison; AMC
Breaking Bad had three of the six nominees in the category. Prediction: It won’t be the last time we hear the show’s name. “My parents at home watching the live-feed, freaking out right now,” Hutchison said. This is Breaking Bad‘s third episodic WGA Award and the first not won by creator Vince Gilligan. Meanwhile, in NY, WGA East president Michael Winship tells the audience in another guild labor talks reference: “Divided we beg, united we bargain.
“A Test Before Trying” (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen; Fox
Maybe Cohen should have been writing for Garrett: “I better get a residual for that,” he said after he walked up onstage with a clip from the winning episode playing on the big screen. “My mailman needs something to steal.”
CHILDREN’S – EPISODIC & SPECIALS
“influANTces” (A.N.T. Farm), Written by Vincent Brown; Disney Channel
This was a Black History Month episode, Brown said. He also thanks his husband in the audience.
Here’s WGA West president Christopher Keyser onstage: ”Writers are solitary people, we do what we do mostly alone. We gather once a year, to honor Vince Gilligan and Modern Family.” Again more laughs than Garrett. Keyser said the guild added 493 members during the past year and 103 of its members passed away.
Screen Laurel Award for Screenwriting
Mel Brooks introduces his old friend and gets a standing ovation, saying, “This is very touching — it makes up for the chicken.” After a highlight reel (the run of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Blume In Love, Harry And Tonto, Next Stop Greenwich Village, An Unmarried Woman came in a six-year span in the 1970s — wow), Mazursky is wheeled out by his Brazilian assistant and launches into a series of jokes and stories. ”The Oscar’s not bad. Who wants an Oscar, who gives a shi*t? I wanted it, you always want it. (Note: He was nominated four times, the last in 1990 for co-writing Enemies: A Love Story, but never won.) But when I got this award, I wept. Because the same people who got it (before) are the same ones who decided I (would get it).” He also reflected on his love of film critics, no matter how nasty they were throughout his career, specifically reflecting on the roller coaster moment when NY Times critic Vincent Canby buried the filmmaker’s New York Film Festival premiere Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, despite the fact that the crowd was falling out of their seats and that the-then Columbia Pictures executives were “carrying me out of the room on their shoulders.” Mazursky thought he was done, but it was the New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael who redeemed the film and assured the filmmaker that it would make a ton of money. “‘Vincent Canby is a schmuck’ Pauline told me. God bless her — she’s living somewhere in Maine now or Lake Michigan,” he joked about the deceased critic. This is a long rambling talk (hearing people checking their phones now) but hey why not?
In NY, former Focus Features boss James Schamus is receiving the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for career achievement, presented by Pariah director Dee Rees.
QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Jeopardy!, Written by John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC
It’s the only nominee in the category’s first year. Alex Trebeck presented and Billy Wisse accepted. Trebeck called producers “rat bastards” for asking him to present “following Paul Mazursky and Mel Brooks”— graciously not mentioning Mazursky’s funny but endless monologue. Garrett was not so kind, dead-panning that because of Mazursky the 2015 WGA Awards would directly follow tonight’s ceremony.
LONG FORM – ADAPTED
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Written by Shawn Slovo, Based on the book by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace; HBO
Valentine Davies Award
Jennifer Tilly is shouting her speech to introduce her ex-husband, who needs a cane to walk onstage — which takes a while. “I forgot my speech I’ll be right back,” he joked when he arrived. Remarking on Tilly’s listing of his massive philanthropy: “There’s no one more qualified to comment on my check-writing than my ex-wife Jennifer Tilly,” he said. “True happiness is the happiness that comes from being honored. I love scrolls, I love plaques, I have a building named after me.” (Tilly is taking cell phone pics of Simon onstage.) Simon said it’s been a year since his cancer diagnosis that includes colon, liver, kidneys brain and other vital organs. He was given three months to live. “Two things I would ask of you tonight,” he says. 1) If you’re over 40, get yourself a colonoscopy. 2) Tell someone that you haven’t told yet that you love them. I know to some people in this room, the colonoscopy sounds better, but do the best you can.”
The Last of Us, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment
Morgan Cox Award
Thomas S. Cook (posthumous)
Robert Isley is presenting.
Days of Our Lives, Written by Lorraine Broderick, David Cherrill, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Christopher Dunn, Janet Iacobuzio, David A. Levinson, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Melissa Salmons, Christopher J. Whitesell; NBC
Paul Selvin Award
Alex Gibney, We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks
It’s the first time a documentary has won the award, which is presented to that member “whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to those whose defense Paul Selvin committed his professional life.” Gibney might be out of this year’s Oscar conversation, but the past Oscar winner took to a proper soapbox, saying how it is our duty, not matter how low our status is in society, to leak information to protect the greater good of others. “Our government is spying on writers — journalists who speak to sources are now in danger of being accessories to conspiracies,” he said. With writers’ free expression in check, he warns it leaves “those in power to police themselves.”
UH OH ALERT: The WGA East has gotten ahead of themselves again, with outlets reporting winners announced in NY that have not been announced here. Is it the Mazursky Effect? Nope, just one side of the guild not able to communicate with the other. Maybe they’ll fix it — next year.
SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA – ORIGINAL
“Episode 4: The Collected Sylvia” (Sylvia Plath: Girl Detective), Written by Mike Simses;
Spiky-haired presenter Walton Goggins comes on to introduce the Docu Feature award. Garrett jokes that he actor deserved the “Brian Grazer Award.” Garrett admonished, “Tease your hair, don’t piss it off.”
Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
The Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement
The intro is by Marshall’s Happy Days star Henry Winkler, who reminded the crowd that “Garry owned ABC’s comedy block for 10 years” with Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. Winkler said Marshall was a guy who not only had the superhero powers to fix a comedy situation (“He would tip his head and 90 solutions would fall off the top”), but also a guy who never put one member of the cast above another: Winkler recalled a moment when the Happy Days cast was at a Little Rock, AK event for the TV show, and Winkler asked Marshall to hurry so he could make a flight. “He took me by the collar and shoved me against the wall and said, ‘Everyone has to wait just like you do!’ Garry was thinking of the entire cast,” Winkler reflected. “He once told me, ‘Other people make important television, I make recess. Well, Garry, you made recess very important for advancing the literature of TV.”
Accepting his honor, Marshall spoke about how Chayefsky was also a Bronx-native like him and an alum of his high school, DeWitt Clinton. “It was an all boys school, so we had no other business but to write about girls,” he said. Remembering his start in the business, Marshall mentioned that one would cut their teeth and excel in the ranks by writing musical skits at the old WGA Award shows — and one of his caught the attention of Lucille Ball. Later, after quipping that ”Lifetime Achivement Awards should be earlier — my bedtime was at the soap opera (award), he dispelled some advice: “Like Samuel Beckett, I always say ‘Fail, fail again and fail better. You’ll get ahead.’ We both wrote pieces that were called Happy Days and they’re both still writing. And let me remind you all, that the hardest job is always filling the blank sheet of paper.”
Backstage, a photographer took an alarming tumble scrambling to grab a shot of Marshall. ”You have a stunt man?” Marshall cracked.
ON-AIR PROMOTION (TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA OR RADIO)
“The Crazy Ones – Building a Better Comedy,” Written by Erial Tompkins; CBS
“2012 Year in Review,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio News
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
“Remembering C. Everett Koop,” Written by Scott Saloway; CBS Radio News
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
“Afternoon Drive,” Written by Bill Spadaro; CBS Radio/1010 WINS
TELEVISION GRAPHIC ART AND ANIMATION
CBS News Animations: “Brain Injury,” “Pills,” “Bionic Leg,” “Midland Parade,” “Concordia Salvage;” Animation by David Rosen; CBS News
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
“Lethal Medicine” (60 Minutes), Written by Michael Rey, Oriana Zill de Granados, Michael Radutzky; CBS
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
“Tragedy at Newtown” Special Edition (ABC World News with Diane Sawyer), Written by Lisa Ferri and Matt Negrin; ABC
DOCUMENTARY – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS
“The Choice 2012” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk; PBS
“Silicon Valley” (American Experience), Telescript by Randall MacLowry and Michelle Ferrari; Story by Randall MacLowry; PBS
DOCUMENTARY – CURRENT EVENTS
“Egypt in Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria & Martin Smith; PBS
COMEDY / VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES – SPECIALS
Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, Head Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts; Writers: Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders; NBC
COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES
The Colbert Report, Writers: Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Dan Guterman, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Bobby Mort, Meredith Scardino, Max Werner; Comedy Central
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC
“This has been an amazing last seven years, for us, personally, particularly this last year,” Vince Gilligan said of his win tonight, matching the show’s previous awards-season triumphs. “To eat a lot of dinners at events such as this. We’ve got some good ones coming up. My point being, not to show off, first of all, none of us saw this coming. Second, at each one of these dinners, I’m continually reminded this is a collaborative medium.” Later: “I think about the fact that it all starts with the written word. If I got to choose what’d go on my tombstone, above all these other hyphenate options, writer would be it — the most important thing.”
Veep, Written by Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO
“Veep” writers are currently in production in Maryland — so they’re no shows.
Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, And Dangerous Days At Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern presented the award, hailing the writers in the audience as the group of people who “make a business work — scribes.” After announcing Ray, Dern added another tribute to the “wonderful writers in the room tonight” and said: “Once, just once, (I hope) you can know the kind of luck I had on this movie.”
Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.