Opting for two tales of CIA heroics, showbiz scribes have selected “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” for the key screenplay awards from the Writers Guild of America.
Mark Boal’s screenplay for “Zero Dark Thirty” won best original category and Chris Terrio
’s adaptation of “Argo” took adapted screenplay in ceremonies Sunday in Los Angeles and New York.
With awards season in its final stage, the victory for “Argo” culminated a guild awards sweep following wins from the PGA, SAG and the DGA.
“It’s a unique thing to be honored by your peers,” Boal said in his acceptance and noted that director Kathryn Bigelow was attending the ceremonies at LA Live.
“Kathryn, you took this script and made it live, breathe and fly,” he added.
A visibly moved Terrio said in his acceptance that when he began work on “Argo” five years ago, he was out of money and had defaulted on his student loan.
“I had my specs and Writers Guild card; I can’t tell you how that propped me up,” Terrio added. “In a very lonely profession, I was in the same club as all you guys.”
Boal’s screenplay won over “Flight,” “Looper,” “The Master” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” “Argo” topped “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
“Searching for Sugar Man” kept up its momentum in the documentary award for Malik Bendjelloul, following victories at the PGA and DGA. “Sugar Man” is one of five nominees for the documentary feature Oscar.
In television, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” won for best drama for the third straight year, while FX’s “Louie” won best comedy series. HBO’s “Girls” won for best new series.
Emmy drama series winner “Homeland” was shut out, but Emmy comedy winner “Modern Family” took a trophy with Elaine Ko
winning the episodic comedy award for “Virgin Territory.”
Semi Chellas and Matt Weiner won episodic drama award for “Mad Men” with the segment “The Other Woman” — topping four episodes of “Breaking Bad” and one of “Homeland.”
“Portlandia” scored an upset in taking the comedy variety series award over seven other nominees, including “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” “The 66th Annual Tony Awards” received the comedy variety special award.
Danny Strong took the longform adapted trophy for “Game Change” and Ted Mann and Ronald Parker won the longform original award for “Hatfields and McCoys.” Jeff Westbrook took the animated award for “Ned N Edna’s Blend Agenda” segment of “The Simpsons,” winning over two other “Simpsons” episodes and single segs of “Family Guy” and “Futurama.”
The daytime drama award went to “The Young and the Restless.” Richard Farrese and Jill Murray took the videogame writing award for “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation.”
Results were based on voting by the 12,000 WGA members. Writers represent about 6 percent of voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
As has occurred in the past, the screenplay awards were announced first in New York ceremonies at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill a full hour before they were announced at the Los Angeles ceremonies at the Marriott at LA Live — even though the events are scheduled to run concurrently, with dinner at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles.
“I wish my grandparents could be here to see us eating dinner this early,” WGA West president Christopher Keyser noted in his remarks.
Keyser told Variety after the show he did not know why the timing of the announcements had not been more closely coordinated, adding, “We’ll have to talk with them about that.”
“Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” will face competition at Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards from a somewhat different field. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is an Oscar nominee in the adapted field, along with “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
“Zero Dark Thirty” is competing in the original screenplay category against “Amour,” “Django Unchained,” “Flight” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” Boal won the WGA and Oscar in the category three years ago for “The Hurt Locker.”
“Amour,” “Beasts” and “Django” were excluded from the WGA awards
consideration since they were not written under jurisdiction of the WGA or another writers guild.
Even with exclusions, the WGA winners have a reliable track record for predicting the Oscar screenplay winners. Woody Allen won both in the original category for “Midnight in Paris” last year for the 12th match in 18 years; Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash won both trophies in adapted for “The Descendants,” marking the 13th match in 18 years.
Both ceremonies featured previously announced honors with notables such as Steven Spielberg making the presentations. Spielberg gave tribute to “Lincoln” writer Tony Kushner for the Paul Selvin award for civil liberties, noting, “He believes the political and personal are always intertwined.”
Tom Stoppard received the Laurel Award for Screen by saying, “I’m not a great screenwriter; I’m a bit talkative.”
Stoppard also listed two lines of dialogue he wished he had written — Tommy Lee Jones saying “I don’t care” to Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive” and Bill Murray, on zapping an Amazonian deity in “Ghostbusters,” saying “That chick is toast.”
Phil Rosenthal received major applause for receiving the Valentine Davies Award and saying, “If you’re lucky enough to do well in life, it’s your obligation to help those around you.”
Nathan Filion hosted in Los Angeles and drew big laughs when he introduced himself as “eight-time Comic-Con panelist.” Richard Kind, part of the cast of “Argo,” handled MC duties in New York and went onstage at one point costumed as the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“Zero Dark Thirty” – Written by Mark Boal; Columbia Pictures
“Argo” – Screenplay by Chris Terrio; based on a selection from “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman; Warner Bros. Pictures
“Searching for Sugar Man” – Written by Malik Bendejelloul; Sony Pictures Classics
“Breaking Bad” – Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC
“Louie” – Written by Pamela Adlon, Vernon Chatman, Louis C.K.; FX
“Girls” – Written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO
COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES
“Portlandia” – Writers: Fred R. Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Karey Dornetto, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley; IFC
COMEDY / VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES – SPECIALS
66th Annual Tony Awards – Written by Dave Boone; Special Material by Paul Greenberg; Opening and Closing Songs by David Javerbaum, Adam Schlesinger; CBS
“The Other Woman” (“Mad Men”) – Written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner; AMC
“Virgin Territory” (“Modern Family” )- Written by Elaine Ko; ABC
LONG FORM – ORIGINAL
“Hatfields and McCoys,” (Nights Two and Three) – Teleplay by Ted Mann and Ronald Parker, Story by Bill Kerby and Ted Mann; History Channel
LONG FORM – ADAPTED
“Game Change” – Written by Danny Strong, Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann; HBO
“Ned and Edna’s Blend Agenda” (The Simpsons) – Written by Jeff Westbrook; Fox
“The Young & The Restless – Written by Amanda Beall, Jeff Beldner, Brent Boyd, Susan Dansby, Janice Ferri Esser, Jay Gibson, Scott Hamner, Maria Kanelos, Natalie Minardi Slater, Beth Milstein, Michael Montgomery, Anne Schoettle, Linda Schreiber, Lisa Seidman, Sarah K. Smith, Christopher J. Whitesell, Teresa Zimmerman; CBS
CHILDREN’S – EPISODIC & SPECIAL
“The Good Sport” (Sesame Street); Written by Christine Ferraro; PBS
CHILDREN’S – LONG FORM OR SPECIAL
“Girl vs. Monster,” Story by Annie De Young; Teleplay by Annie De Young and Ron McGee; Disney Channel
DOCUMENTARY – CURRENT EVENTS
“Money, Power and Wall Street: Episode One” (Frontline) – Written by Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria; PBS
DOCUMENTARY – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS
“The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time” (Nova) – Written by Randall MacLowry; PBS
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
“Tragedy In Colorado: The Movie Theatre Massacre” – Written by Lisa Ferri, Joel Siegel; ABC News
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
“The Ghost of Joe McCarthy” (Moyers & Company), Written by Bill Moyers, Michael Winship; Thirteen/ WNET
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED OR BREAKING REPORT
“World News This Year 2011” – Written by Darren Reynolds; ABC News Radio
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE OR COMMENTARY
“Dishin Digital” – Written by Robert Hawley; WCBS-AM
PROMOTIONAL WRITING AND GRAPHIC ANIMATION CATEGORIES
ON-AIR PROMOTION (RADIO OR TELEVISION)
“Partners” – Written by Dan A. Greenberger; CBS
TELEVISION GRAPHIC ANIMATION
“The Oscars” (Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood), Animation by Bob Pook; CBS
NEW MEDIA AND VIDEOGAME
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING ORIGINAL NEW MEDIA
“The Compromises, Episode 1,” “The Pest, Episode 3,” The Snake, Episode 4,” “The Bonding, Episode 6,” “The Future, Episode 7/Series Finale” (Jack in a Box) – Written by Michael Cyril Creighton; jackinaboxsite.com
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING DERIVATIVE NEW MEDIA
“Hide And Seek,” “Keys to the Kingdom,” “The Chosen Ones,” “Parting Shots” – “The Walking Dead: Cold Storage” – Written by John Esposito; amctv.com
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VIDEOGAME WRITING
“Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” – Scriptwriting by Richard Farrese, Jill Murray; Ubisoft