WGA fetes Cody, Coens, then eyes pact
Diablo Cody, who penned Fox Searchlight’s “Juno,” took the WGA’s original screenplay award while Ethan and Joel Coen won adapted screenplay for Miramax’s “No Country for Old Men.”The WGA West had scrubbed its black-tie awards ceremony last month due to the work stoppage, while the WGA East held a low-key “recognition reception” affair attended by about 400 at the Broadway Millenium Hotel in Gotham a few hours after the membership meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Saturday night’s announcements in New York came minutes before the crucial WGA membership meeting at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, where guild leaders presented the details of the tentative pact to end the three-month writers strike. Cody’s whimsical dramedy of teen pregnancy topped the scripts for “Michael Clayton,” “The Savages,” “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Knocked Up.” The Coen brothers’ grim adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed novel about a Texas crime spree won over the scripts for “There Will Be Blood,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Into the Wild” and “Zodiac.” Based on voting by the 12,000 WGA members, the victories maintain momentum for both pics, particularly “No Country,” which also copped awards from the DGA, SAG and the PGA. In the original category, WGA winners have matched Oscar winners in eight of the past 13 years, including last year, when Michael Arndt won for “Little Miss Sunshine.” The guild’s winner in the adapted category has doubled as Oscar winner nine times in the past 13 years, with William Monahan winning both trophies last year for “The Departed.” Alex Gibney drew documentary kudos for ThinkFilm’s “Taxi to the Dark Side.” Gibney also won the WGA award — now in its fourth year — for 2006’s “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” On Saturday at the East Coast reception, Walter Bernstein received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award. Nod is presented “in recognition of contributions that have brought honor and dignity to writers everywhere,” the guild said. Bernstein’s feature credits include “Fail Safe,” “The Money Trap,” “The Front” and “Semi-Tough.” He also wrote “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Train” uncredited. Bernstein has penned TV movies including “Miss Evers’ Boys” and “Failsafe.” Meanwhile, NBC’s “30 Rock,” HBO’s “The Wire,” AMC’s “Mad Men,” HBO’s “The Sopranos” and NBC’s “The Office” won the top TV series honors at the WGA Awards. Writers on comedy winner “30 Rock” include Brett Baer, Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Dave Finkel, Daisy Gardner, Donald Glover, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher and Ron Weiner. Scribes for winning drama “The Wire” include Ed Burns, Chris Collins, Dennis Lehane, David Mills, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon and William F. Zorzi. Writers on new-series winner “Mad Men” include Lisa Albert, Bridget Bedard, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Tom Palmer, Chris Provenzano, Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner. “The Sopranos” won the outstanding episode award in drama series for “The Second Coming,” penned by Terence Winter; “The Office” took the comedy episode award for “The Job,” penned by Paul Liberstein & Michael Schur. Hallmark’s “Pandemic” won the longform original trophy for writers Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel. TNT’s “The Company: A Story of the CIA” took the longform adaptation award for Ken Nolan, based on the novel by Robert Littell. Mood was lighthearted at the New York event amid the presumption that the strike will be over soon. However, WGA East president Michael Winship warned that the work stoppage had not been called off, adding, “My mother’s from Texas, and she always says to never buy your ticket until you hear that train whistle.” “Saturday Night” cast member Seth Meyers, who’s been a constant presence on picket lines, elicited big laughs when he told the audience, “As I look at you, I can’t help but express how sick and tired I am of seeing your faces.” And Triumph the Insult Comic Dog told the crowd, “We have an agreement that you can pretend to be proud of.” WGA East exec director Mona Mangan told Daily Variety that the event was scaled back because it would been unseemly to have a full-blown formal affair with a strike going on. “But it really is a night to celebrate because we have a contract — depending on the membership vote — so this is really a well-timed event,” she added.