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‘Sky’ scribe Colick wins Humanitas Prize

'Private Ryan,' 'Action' also in contention for $25,000 award

Lewis Colick, writer of “October Sky,” the true story of a miner’s son who becomes a rocket scientist, won the Humanitas Prize for a feature film that “enriches and enlightens” the audience.

The film beat “Saving Private Ryan” and “A Civil Action” on Thursday for the $25,000 award.

Awards in seven categories were given to scriptwriters Thursday at the 25th anniversary Humanitas Prize luncheon.

The prize is given to writers to encourage the creation of humanizing TV and motion picture productions.

The 90-minute-or-longer network award went to ABC’s “NYPD Blue” episode “Hearts and Souls,” with teleplay by Nicholas Wootton and story by Steven Bochco, David Milch and Bill Clark.

John Sacret Young garnered the 90-minute-or-longer PBS/cable award for Showtime’s “Thanks of a Grateful Nation.”

In the 60-minute category, the prize went to NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” episode “Shades of Gray,” teleplay by T.J. English, story by Julie Martin & David Simon.

“The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee Tech,” an episode of ABC’s “Sports Night” by Aaron Sorkin, Matt Tarses, David Walpert and Bill Wrubel won in the 30-minute category.

For children’s live action, Heather Conkie’s “Degas and the Dancer” (HBO’s “The Artists’ Specials”) took the prize.

Richard Gitelson’s “Hand Me Downs” won in the children’s animation category.

Keynote speaker was Father Elwood Kieser, president of the Humanitas Prize organization, who addressed the controversy concerning violence and the entertainment industry.

“The problem is not with media violence as such,” Kieser said. “No, the problem is with the superficial, distorted and exploitative way that violence is so often presented.”

Also at the prize luncheon, a new $10,000 award was announced that will be presented in conjunction with the Sundance Institute, to honor independent screenwriters. Films that are shown at the Sundance Film Festival or a product of one the festival’s labs will be eligible.

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