As budgets get slashed and the bottom line becomes more important than a well-written one, the 36th annual Humanitas Prize kudos Thursday at the Montage Hotel recognized writers who write for purpose, not just a paycheck.
Still, part of the prize includes a check, though emcee Charlie Hauck joked, “Those checks have not cleared for years.” Documentary winner Jennifer Arnold (for “A Small Act”) embodied the Humanitas success story in her acceptance speech: “We started with almost no money, literally in the garage, with two people,” she said. “We never imagined we’d end up in a Beverly Hills ballroom.”
And in a room full of writers, the speeches better be good. Presenter Damon Lindelof took to the podium with a several-inches-thick binder of paper, joking that if he was going to present in the 90-minute category, his speech was going to be 90 minutes long.
Robert King and Michelle King, who won the 60-minute prize for “The Good Wife,” thanked Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer for providing the political sex scandals that inspired their show. “Glee” also won in the 60-minute category. Series co-creators Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk accepted the award. Ryan Murphy, the duo’s fellow “Glee” co-creator and exec producer, was not at the luncheon, so Brennan and Falchuk thanked themselves “because we’re who he would have thanked.”
On a more serious note, Geoffrey Fletcher won the feature category for “Precious,” and observed: “Precious wants the same things we all want — to love, to be loved and to contribute.” Other winners included Anne Rosellini and Debra Granik in the Sundance category for “Winter’s Bone,” Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson in the 90-minute category for “Temple Grandin,” Liz Brixus, Linda Wallem, and Evan Dunsky in the 30-minute category for “Nurse Jackie” and Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd for “Modern Family,” also in the 30-minute category.
The awards are given to writers who explore humanity through their work: As presenter David Shore put it, “The (awards) actually call on us not just to make good TV and films, but to make TV and films that do good.”
In her address to the ceremony, CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler lauded the org for saluting works that demonstrate “courage and excellence,” adding: “Courage beings with the writer putting words on paper.”