“Capote” received the USC Scripter Award for film adaptation at Saturday night’s 18th annual fete, held on campus in the Doheny Memorial Library.
Selection committee chair Tom Schulman presented the author award to “Capote” biographer Gerald Clarke, who said, “A mystical bond unites all writers. To quote Henry James: ‘We work in the dark, we do what we can … The rest is the madness of art.’ ”
Bestowing the Scripter to his “friend of over 20 years,” “Capote” helmer Bennett Miller praised screenwriter Dan Futterman.
“When you make a movie, the most you can hope for is that it becomes a fixture of the culture,” he said. “One thing that impresses me the most is that Danny labored for years before anyone else got involved.”
Onstage, Futterman illustrated his work on the project, reading aloud years’ worth of his email correspondence with Clarke. Futterman initially contacted the author to acquire letters sent by imprisoned murderers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock to Capote that Clarke had in his possession.
Leading up to the presentations, emcee Henry Winkler introduced a congratulatory video message from “Capote” thesp Bob Balaban and set up several clips from the film.
“Everything begins and ends with the word,” Winkler said. “If we do not have writing, everyone stands waiting.”
Comedy writer and grand master of ceremonies Hal Kanter delivered his annual monologue, joking about this year’s Academy accolades: “It will be interesting to see who wins the Oscar: the fussy hot-blooded cowboys or a fussy cold-blooded writer.”
Selection committee member Howard Rodman and dean of USC Libraries Jerry Campbell also served as presenters.
This year, 47 films were considered for the award. After the selection committee narrowed the competition to five finalists, “Capote” was named winner in the final vote.