In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about which films and performers got an Oscar bump out of the WGA, Annie and Cinematographers awards shows this past Saturday; check in on the Santa Barbara film festival’s celebration of Cate Blanchett and whether the controversy over her Blue Jasmine director in will spill over into the Oscar race; dissect the Academy’s defense of its de-nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the face of complaints by, particularly, religious and conservative critics; and discuss the highlights of Pete’s sit-down with Julia Roberts this week to discuss her supporting actress Oscar nomination for “August: Osage County.”
We’ll also get Pete’s take on the week’s notable movie debuts, including the true and likable WWII story The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney with a big-name cast, and The Lego Movie, a fast-moving and smart animated film that Pete suggests could be in the Oscar hunt a year from now.
You can listen to the podcast in your choice of formats here:
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.M4A version)
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The 2008 Writers Guild Awards fell on the waning days of the writers strike, with WGA West even cancelling their ceremony while the East Coast writers union held theirs as final touches were being put on the hard-fought new WGA-AMPTP agreement. Six years later, we’re in the final months of that agreement, and the 2014 WGA Awards tonight were held on the eve of the two sides kicking off negotiations on a new 3-year contract on Monday. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 6 years,” Christopher J Whitesell of best daytime drama winner Days Of Our Lives told Deadline. “Let’s hope it goes better this time than it did then.”
Related: WGA Sets February 3 As Start Of Talks With Producers
There has already been some contention, with WGA negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray on Thursday expressing concern over a “surprise”opening proposal by producers that includes “$60 million in rollbacks for writers.” At the New York ceremony, WGAE president Michael Winship rallied the troops with a battle cry, “Divided we beg, united we bargain.” Most writers attending the events sounded optimistic about the the negotiations when asked by Deadline. Veteran Garry Marshall, recipient of the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing, joked, “We always are going on strike, it’s happened 5 or 6 times.” But he noted that the swift new DGA deal “gave a good inroad” for successful negotiations and “I hope the Writers Guild will follow.” Writers spent 100 days on the picket lines six years ago but, “I don’t think there will be a strike this time,” Marshall said. “We’ll only go on strike if it rains.” Read More »
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.
Related: WGA Awards: Writers Hopeful As They Head Into Contract Negotiations With Producers
“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
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Tuesday night at the WGA West’s annual Beyond Words panel, ten WGA Awards-nominated scribes assembled to talk screenwriting and commiserate over the scripting challenges faced on eight very different films. A common theme of the night was distilling fiction from real life, as in Terence Winter‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer’s American Hustle, Billy Ray‘s Captain Phillips, and Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten’s Dallas Buyers Club. Nebraska writer Bob Nelson‘s advice seemed to ring true with more than a few: “The best thing to do as a screenwriter,” he declared, “is to pillage your family mercilessly.” Nelson modeled Bruce Dern‘s cranky Midwestern senior citizen Woody after his own father, and June Squibb‘s domineering character after his mother-in-law. “When my brother saw the movie he said, ‘That wasn’t writing – that was dictation.’”
Tracy Letts, who adapted his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County for the screen, echoed that sentiment. The contentious matriarch Violet, played by Meryl Streep in the film in an Oscar-nominated performance, sprung from Letts’ own memories of his grandmother. “She was a really monstrous figure in my mind,” he said. “When I started to write this I wasn’t looking to find a way to sympathize with her, necessarily, but I was trying to find a way to humanize her. .. what I found to my delight and surprise and horror was that she was your mother, too, and she’s everybody’s mother.”
“Jordan (Belfort) was very much based on my grandmother,” joked Winter, who recalled the task of filtering the real life Wall Street swindler into a protagonist that could win over the audience before revealing his true colors. “We have the most unreliable narrator in history and that’s basically license to tell the story in any manner that character sees fit. I wanted Jordan to sell us his story,” he said. Read More »
Brad Garrett has been tapped as host of the Writers Guild Awards in Los Angeles. A three-time Emmy winner, Garrett is perhaps best known for his role as Robert Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. Should be interesting as host, as his stand up routines can be a bit on the raunchy side. The awards are set for Saturday at the JW Marriott L.A. Live in downtown L.A. From today’s release: Read More »
It continues to be a good week for American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska. All followed up yesterday’s Producers Guild nominations with WGA noms this morning, making it 2-for-2 in the early guild contests of this new year. The WGA also gave a much-needed shot of adrenaline to August: Osage County, which was bypassed by the PGA but had three SAG nominations earlier and now an adapted screenplay bid for Tracy Letts that keeps it alive. But the news continues to be bad for the Coen brothers, who are usually awards darlings.
Related: An Early Look At A Crowded Best Picture Oscar Race
After being snubbed by SAG and yesterday’s PGA announcement, the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis also was bypassed by the WGA, even though it was eligible to be nominated for Original Screenplay. That’s the biggest surprise of the day. (Read the full list of WGA Awards nominees below.) Writers have loved their work in the past. Since the guilds often closely parallel Oscar nominations and have many of the same members, it does not bode well for the chances of the CBS Films release, which started the season by winning the Grand Prize (2nd) at Cannes but has not gotten much traction since. One source close to the film’s campaign told me this morning they think Inside Llewyn Davis will fare better under the more specialized Academy preferential voting system as opposed to the popularity contests of the guilds. Passionate fans of the film will have a better chance to be heard by giving it first-place votes.
Related: Will Critics & Precursor Awards Carry More Weight In A Jam-Packed Year?
Among other films eligible under WGA rules but omitted from the list: Nicole Holofcener’s most acclaimed film to date, Enough Said, was overlooked for Original Screenplay — a surprise given that the WGA nominated her previous film, Please Give, in 2010. Danny Strong’s ambitious script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler also missed the cut as it the film itself did at PGA and the Golden Globes. It is nominated for three SAG awards. And Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron’s original script for one of Oscar’s front-runners, Gravity, failed to impress the writers, who perhaps saw it as more of a technical achievement. Warner Bros has been trying to change that perception and has widely circulated the intricate and complex script but to no avail, at least as far as the WGA is concerned.
Related: Year-End: How A Growing Global Mandate And Franchise Fever Led To Movie Studio Tsuris
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Related: R.I.P. Thomas T.S. Cook
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West has named the late OscarTM and Emmy-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning writer Thomas S. Cook as its 2014 Morgan Cox Award honoree in recognition of his Guild service. The WGAW’s honorary award will be presented posthumously to Cook at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE.
“Tom was a beloved member of this Guild, renowned both for the remarkable work he produced and for his unending commitment to give something of himself back. His service touched on every corner of our mission and lasted over three wonderful decades. Even in his final days, as a Trustee of our Health and Pension Fund, he never forgot the needs of his fellow writers, and we, in turn, will never forget him,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 25, 1947, Cook passed away on January 5, 2013 at his home in Hollywood after a battle with cancer at age 65.
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The WGA Awards‘ TV nominations this morning provided a stark contrast to the PGA Award nominations on Tuesday, proving again how out of date the PGA Awards are on the TV side with their June-May eligibility window. The WGA … Read More »
HBO’s flagship drama Game Of Thrones won’t extend its streak of two consecutive WGA Awards nominations in the best drama series category due to a submission issue. “As a result of an inadvertent online entry error HBO’s Game … Read More »
The big news is that the Writers Guild awards to be held February 1, 2014, have revised their guidelines to allow eligibility for Netflix series like House Of Cards that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Show received 9 Emmy nominations last week and was not specifically named in today’s WGA announcement:
Los Angeles and New York – For the upcoming awards season, Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have changed awards eligibility and submission guidelines for the television and new media categories, and have added a new Quiz & Audience Participation writing award.
“Whether you’re watching content on a TV screen, online on a laptop, or with a hand-held device, outstanding writing and great storytelling deserve the same recognition,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser and WGAE President Michael Winship. “These changes in eligibility and submission guidelines reflect the evolution of distribution models in the entertainment industry. We are also looking forward to giving out the new Quiz & Audience Participation Award in 2014.”
TELEVISION AND NEW MEDIA
In the past year, several high profile series have been produced for initial exhibition in new media. Under the existing Writers Guild Awards rules, these shows would not have been eligible to compete against similar programs produced for TV. The new guidelines will permit online series to compete with TV series in the script and series categories.
Also in the last year, several daytime serials, which had been broadcast on network television for decades, moved to new media platforms. Although they are continuations of programs previously produced for television, the old rules would have placed them in the separate Derivative New Media award category. The new awards guidelines will allow online daytime serials to compete in the Daytime Drama category along with serials that continue to be produced for television.
Specific changes to Writers Guild Awards rules are as follows:
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Deadline Editor in Chief Nikki Finke is writing from on-scene coverage by Deadline’s Awards Columnist, Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, and contributor Ray Richmond. The 2013 WGA award winners are named here. There will be an update to this post on Monday morning:
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Deadline Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke is writing from on-scene reports. The winners are named at 2013 WGA Awards (LIVE). There will be an update to this post on Monday morning:
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Nora Ephron, the quintuple-threat director and screenwriter and playwright and author and columnist, died in June after quietly battling leukemia. She had been a staunch WGA member and received the WGA East’s Ian McClellan Hunter Award in 2003 honoring motion picture work, so this tribute set for the WGA’s New York awards show February 17 is fitting — she never won the guild award despite nominations for a heavy-hitter list of movies (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless In Seattle and Julie & Julia). Her last play, Lucky Guy, is set to begin previews on Broadway next month with Tom Hanks and Maura Tierney starring. Here’s the guild’s release announcing plans:
New York City – Writers Guild of America, East today announced a tribute to award-winning, screenwriter, director, playwright, author, and Guild, East member Nora Ephron. The tribute to Ephron, who died in June, will be led by the author Meg Wolitzer, whose novel, “This Is My Life,” was adapted and directed by Ephron in 1992 and presented at the Writers Guild Awards East Coast ceremony on Sunday February 17th, in New York City.
“At this year’s Writers Guild Awards East Coast ceremony, we will mark the passing of one of our most distinguished and creative members. Nora Ephron’s life and body of work were those of a quintessential New Yorker, but not only did she embody the sophistication, wit and energy of our city, she was also a loyal union member who walked the picket line and talked the talk on behalf of all her fellow writers,” said Michael Winship, President, Writers Guild of America, East.
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“It’s almost like it’s become a fad for politicians to use movies as a publicity platform,” screenwriter Mark Boal told Deadline of the political controversy still swirling around Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty tonight at the WGA‘s annual panel discussion with guild award nominees. Until recently the Oscar-nominated screenwriter, along with Oscar-snubbed director Bigelow, kept his feelings relatively close to his chest on the Senate critics who called for investigations into the accuracy and propriety of Zero Dark Thirty‘s account of the intelligence operations that led to bin Laden’s capture and death. With the Academy Awards less than three weeks away, he likened the Zero Dark Thirty political assault to McCarthyism: “You’re talking about an institution that has lower approval ratings than head lice and cockroaches in the American public, so I think anything they can do to, in some cases, avoid the issues that they’re voted in to do, they’ll do.”
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