Writer to receive lifetime achievement prize

The Writers Guild of America has tapped Tom Stoppard to receive its Laurel Award for Screen for lifetime achievement in writing for motion pictures. Stoppard will be honored at the WGA West Coast awards ceremony on Feb. 17 at L.A. Live.

“A television writer since 1965 and a screenwriter since 1975, Tom Stoppard brings wit, elegance and heart to all he composes,” said WGA West VP Howard A. Rodman. “We did not want to let his acknowledged brilliance as a playwright to blind us to his dramatic talents in our own field. From ‘The Romantic Englishwoman’ through ‘Despair,’ ‘The Human Factor,’ ‘Brazil,’ ‘Empire of the Sun,’ ‘The Russia House,’ ‘Billy Bathgate,’ ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ ‘Enigma,’ ‘Vatel’ and this past year’s ‘Anna Karenina,’ Stoppard’s screenplays delight, disturb, entrance. Whether adapting the masters — Nabokov, Greene, Ballard, le Carre, Doctorow, Tolstoy — or crafting his own tales, Stoppard brings dignity and coherence to the act of imagination.”

Stoppard has been a member of the WGA West since 1991. He and Marc Norman wrote the original screenplay for “Shakespeare In Love,” which won the Oscar, WGA and Golden Globe.

Stoppard was a born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and was 2 years old when his family fled imminent Nazi occupation for Singapore. He lived in India and began his career in England in 1954 as a journalist, then a film critic and became a playwright with “A Walk on the Water” in 1960.

He earned Tony Awards for Best Play for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Travesties,” “The Real Thing” and the three-play cycle “Coast of Utopia.”

Stoppard’s TV writing credits include the telefilms “A Separate Piece,” “Neutral Ground,” “The Boundary,” “Three Men in a Boat,” “On the Razzle,” “Squaring the Circle,” “Largo Desolato” and adaptations of his own plays “Travesties,” “A Walk on the Water,” and “The Dog It Was That Died.”

Previous winners of the Laurel Award for Screen include David Mamet, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Benton, Barry Levinson, Steven Zaillian, and Eric Roth.

Stoppard’s adaptation of “Anna Karenina” was not eligible for the WGA adapted screenplay award this year.

The guild’s restrictions require that scripts be produced under WGA jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. and that the scripts be formally submitted for consideration.

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