Coen brothers win top prize at USC honors

Industry vets rubbed elbows and clinked glasses with academia at the 20th annual Scripter Awards, presented by the Friends of USC Libraries Saturday night at the school’s Doheny Memorial Library.

The minds behind “No Country for Old Men” won the award, which honors both the author and screenwriter of a film adaptation. On the scribe side, Joel Coen briefly accepted the award, tipping his hat to the book’s author, Cormac McCarthy.

“We had the advantage of starting with a great novel from a great American writer,” he said. Brother Ethan Coen was unable to attend.

McCarthy’s award was accepted by “Chicago Hope” thesp and Scripter committee member Christine Lahti.

Selection committee chair and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal said the Coen brothers’ treatment brought McCarthy’s book to life.

“Sometimes (an adaptation) rises to the height of perfection and provides insight and possibility that a reader alone would never come to. … Such an adaptation is ‘No Country for Old Men,'” she said.

Emcee Jason Alexander added a humorous touch to the evening’s gravitas. By the end of the evening, he was cracking jokes off-script and revisiting his past Friar’s Club roasting duties, to the audience’s delight.

Triple Scripter winner Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) took home the org’s first Literary Achievement award. Zaillian joked that he was glad the honor wasn’t a “lifetime achievement” award and thanked the often-unacknowledged authors who inspired his winning scripts. Good adaptations, he said, “respect the author of the book that inspired them.”

The scribe also told Variety he was eager to get back to his pre-strike project, an adaptation of “1,000 Splendid Suns,” author Khaled Hosseini’s follow-up to “The Kite Runner.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more