There was a lot of New York solidarity at the WGA East’s presentation of the union’s annual award ceremony — a simultaneous and presumably far more glamorous version of which was going on in L.A. at the same time. But the New Yorkers in the house had plenty of hometown pride.
The ceremonies were replete with laughter but also saw a heartfelt response for former Focus Features topper James Schamus (pictured above).
“When Netflix asked whether I wanted to be based on the east coast or the west coast, I said ‘Are you kidding me? You want to put me in a room with suntans and kale crisps?’” cracked presenter Beau Willimon, also a winner in the new TV series category for “House of Cards.”
“Here in New York it’s usually a bit looser, a bit more casual,” said “Wolf of Wall Street” nominee Terence Winter just before the show.
He was right. The Gotham edition, held in midtown supper club Edison Ballroom, was a laidback affair where the Gotham-based nominees (like the “30 Rock” scribes who won for episode “Hogcock” or the nominated staff of “Orange Is The New Black”) got some of the strongest cheers from the crowd.
In a ceremony hosted by Colin Quinn — riffing on “Her” and schlubby writers’ wardrobes — there was a lot of teasing of the winners who couldn’t accept their awards because they were too busy picking them up in L.A. The writers of “Breaking Bad,” for instance, got a hearty boo — not because the crowd didn’t agree with the award, but because the show’s writing staff had the gall to accept the trophy in L.A.
However, the scribe, indie stalwart and former Focus Features exec Schamus received a sustained standing O when he accepted the union’s Evelyn F. Burkey Award. In his acceptance speech he shrugged off the “honor and dignity” citation of the kudo. “The cocktail reception part of the evening was ample evidence of the ongoing dignity deficit among writers,” he cracked.
And then he got serious, talking about the power of writers in the business and saying that advocating for “a fair share of the spoils is still of the essence.”
“Honor and dignity are things writers fight for and take themselves,” he said.
David Simon, picking up his own award, also got a huge response from the room. “This is a lifetime achievement award, which means you motherfuckers think I’m gonna die,” he joked in his speech. “Or you saw the ‘Treme’ numbers and you think, ‘That’s it!’ “
Alessandro Nivola was there on behalf of his “American Hustle” director David O. Russell, ready to give an acceptance speech if Russell won the award for original screenplay. “I have it in a text message I got about an hour ago in the car,” he said right before the show. “As long as my battery lasts through the ceremony, I’ll have something to say!”
He didn’t need the speech, it turned out — the award went to Spike Jonze for “Her.” He wasn’t there, either, and no one accepted on his behalf.
After the staff of “The Colbert Report” stormed the stage as the winners of the final category (comedy/variety series), the writers were all sent off into the wilds of Times Square, currently transformed into the theme park of Super Bowl Boulevard.
“I remember when a $5 toboggan ride meant a whole other thing in Times Square,” Quinn cracked. “But that was a different era.”