The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented its 1992 Nicholl Fellowships in screenwriting Thursday night at Chasen’s.
Writer-director Andrew Bergman delivered the keynote address before the five winners of the fellowships–Robert N. Cohen, Susannah Grant, Andrew W. Marlowe, Terri Edda Miller and Michelle Wollmers–and a packed house of Academy members and celebrities that included Jack Lemmon and Eva Marie-Saint.
The Don & Gee Nicholl Fellowships program was established in 1985 by the Academy to identify and encourage new screenwriters. In the past, $ 20,000 has been awarded to each of the winners, but it was announced at Thursday’s dinner that the award is being raised to $ 25,000.
“America has always been known as the land of opportunity,” Gee Nicholl told the audience, “and we’re giving people an opportunity for their dreams.”
The recipients were selected by the Nicholl Committee, made up of former Acad presidents Fay Kanin, Daniel Taradash and Robert E. Wise; Academy members John Gay, Hal Kanter, Lemmon, Saint and Michael Zimring; and Nicholl Committee chairman Julian Blaustein.
This year’s program drew more than 3,000 scripts.
Bergman, who wrote and directed the recent “Honeymoon in Vegas,” told the assembled winners, “You are entering a profession that suffers from more self-hatred than any profession except dentistry.”
Most of the evening’s comedy highlights were provided by writer Hal Kanter, who opened with, “Good evening, ladies and bozos,” a reference to President Bush’s recent comment about President-elect Clinton.
Kanter’s biggest laugh of the evening, though, came when he said, “They wanted to get Woody Allen to do what I’m doing tonight, but he’s at Doctors Hospital awaiting the birth of his next girlfriend.”