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‘Big Short’ Helmer Adam McKay Calls On Country to ‘Slow Things Down’ at USC Scripter Awards

The housing bubble Oscar contender won alongside inaugural TV recipient 'Show Me a Hero.'

Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” and HBO’s “Show Me a Hero” took home USC Libraries Scripter Awards Saturday night at the 28th annual event, held at the Doheny Memorial Library on the campus of the University of Southern California.

The prize distinguishes itself from the awards season fray by not only recognizing screenwriters, but the authors of the source material that inspired them as well. “Hero” author Belkin, in accepting the inaugural TV prize, made mention of that unique quality in her remarks.

“John le Carré supposedly said that watching your book become film is like watching your oxen be turned into beef jerky,” she said. “So I was a little worried. But it was not like that at all … I’d like to thank the Scripter committee because they embrace the oxen, and are the only people who do. This award is very, very special.”

Paul Haggis directed the six-part mini-series, which was scripted by David Simon and William F. Zorzi.

In accepting the film honor, Adam McKay — joined on stage by his co-writer Charles Randolph — spoke of picking Michael Lewis’ portrait of the “outsiders” who saw the 2008 housing crisis coming, at 9pm one evening and not putting it down until 6:30 the next morning. He went on to recount what he saw as a shift in American culture in the 1980s, when “about $4-6 trillion of extra money went online in the global economy. I feel like [our country] just lost our minds,” he said.

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Having watched the primary returns roll in from Nevada and South Carolina, McKay — an avowed Bernie Sanders supporter — said he had been depressed earlier in the afternoon, but that coming to the USC campus was comforting, “because I feel like there’s a meditative quality to thought and reading, and coming to this library slows things down,” he said. “I think that’s kind of what our country needs to do right now, is slow things down. And I think that’s kind of what this movie was about. It’s about outsiders that weren’t a part of our crazy, fast-paced culture, and they were able to think and look at facts. The job of this place is to think and slow things down and look at things.”

The room held a particularly special place for Randolph: He wrote his first screenplay surrounded by those very four walls. “It’s a space that filled me with the importance of words and the importance of ideas,” he said. “These spaces are invaluable.”

Co-winners Lewis and Simon did not attend.

The Big Short” — which won screenplay honors from the Writers Guild and the British Academy in recent weeks — is favored to win the best adapted screenplay Oscar next weekend.

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