The favorites won at Sunday night’s 46th annual Writers Guild of America awards, as the film writing nods went to Jane Campion for Miramax’s “The Piano” and Steven Zaillian for Universal’s “Schindler’s List.”
The victories position the two screenplays as front-runners for the March 21 Oscars.
The awards ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles and at New York City’s Tavern on the Green.
The kudos for TV’s original longform also went to a front-runner, Jane Anderson for HBO’s “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom,” while the nod for adapted longform resulted in oneof the evening’s two ties, between “Barbarians at the Gate” and “Silent Cries.”
Segments of “Seinfeld” and “Homicide: Life in the Street” took home the episodic trophies.
Campion’s award was for writing directly for the screen, while Zaillian won for his screenplay based on previously produced or published material.
Campion, who lost as best helmer to Steven Spielberg two weeks ago at the Directors Guild Awards, won over Gary Ross (“Dave”), Jeff Maguire (“In the Line of Fire”), Ron Nyswaner (“Philadelphia”), and Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch (“Sleepless in Seattle”).
Zaillian beat out Jeb Stuart and David Twohy (“The Fugitive”), Terry George and Jim Sheridan (“In the Name of the Father”), Amy Tan and Ronald Bass (“The Joy Luck Club”), and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (“The Remains of the Day”).
In other races, TV’s adapted longform category saw a tie between Larry Gelbart (for HBO’s “Barbarians at the Gate”) and Walter Halsey Davis and Vickie Patik (for NBC’s “Silent Cries”).
Larry David won the TV episodic-comedy contest for a seg of NBC’s “Seinfeld,” titled “The Contest”– the one where cast members competed for mastery of their domain. “Seinfeld” and ABC’s “Roseanne” each had two nominations in the category.
In episodic drama, Frank Pugliese seized the day with “The Night of the Dead Living” episode of NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street,” which was based on a story by Pugliese and series producer Tom Fontana.
The nod for variety/musical/special event went to ABC’s “This Just In, Show
2,” whose script was supervised by Matt Neuman and written by Larry Arnstein, Jon Ross, Lane Sarasohn and John Dereviany. It beat out its only other competitor, an NBC Bob Hope spec.
The TV daytime-serial loving cup went to the writers of ABC’s “Loving”: Millee Taggart, Robert Guza Jr., Laurie McCarthy, Addie Walsh, Craig Carlson, John Kuntz, Eugenie Hunt, Dana Herko, Lew Arit, Tony Lang, Lynda Myles, Juliette Mann, Andrew Gottlieb and Nancy Maxwell.
Robert L. Freedman won in the children’s script category for “A Deadly Secret: The Robert Bierer Story,” an episode of HBO’s “Lifestories: Families in Crisis.”
“Frontline: The Choice ’92” won the vote for Richard Ben Cramer, Thomas Lennon and Michael Epstein in the current-events documentary race.
The evening’s second tie was in the non-current-events docu category: David Grubin for PBS’ “Degenerate Art” and Ric Burns for PBS’ “The American Experience: The Donner Party.”
“CBS News Special Report: World Trade Center Bomb,” written by Paul Fischer, Tom Harris and Jerry Cipriano won for TV spot news script.
The television graphic art and animation award went to Karen Mcinnis (3-D animation) and Lou Palisano (art director) for their work on CBS Animation.
There were three sets of winners for work in radio. Stuart H. Chamberlain Jr. won the spot news category for ABC News Radio’s “World News This Week,” while Jill Landes and Evalyn Lee won for their CBS radio docu, “Out of Poverty.”
The on-air promotion award went to Joseph DiPietro for “CBS Sports On-Air Promotions.”
In L.A., the Writers Guild of America, West, presented honorary awards to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who received the Screen Laurel Award; Phil Alden Robinson, the Valentine Davies Award; Steven Bochco, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for TV; Richard Powell, the Morgan Cox Award; and Gary Ross, the Paul Selvin Award for his film script, “Dave.”
The Writers Guild, East, in New York, handed out honorary awards to Joan Ganz Cooney, who received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award; Walter Bernstein, the Ian McLellan Hunter Award; and George Malko, the Richard B. Jablow Award.
American University graduate student Joshua M. Kerns received the John Merriman Memorial Award.
Further coverage of last night’s ceremonies will appear in Tuesday’s Daily Variety.