John Waters, writer-director of “Pink Flamingos” and the original “Hairspray,” has been selected by the Writers Guild of America East to receive its Ian McLellan Hunter Award to honor his body of work.
Waters will be honored at the 2017 Writers Guild Awards, to be held at New York’s Edison Ballroom on Feb. 19. The Ian McLellan Hunter Award was established in 1992.
“Decades ago, a critic once wrote that my screenplays ‘were merely clotheslines to hang out my dirty wash,'” Waters said. “I’m glad the WGAE disagrees — or maybe they DO agree, who knows? Either way, I couldn’t be more honored and excited to get this award.”
David Simon will present the award. Simon was previously honored with the Hunter Award for his work on “The Wire,” “Treme,” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
“The metropolis of Baltimore, Maryland contains multitudes: The stolid rowhouse folk of Mencken’s ‘Heathen Days’; the post-Yiddishe wit of Barry Levinson’s assimilating ‘Diner’ guys; Anne Tyler’s hermetic yet idiosyncratic ‘Roland Park’; Laura Lippman’s crime narratives of Bawlmer women and their carried secrets; ‘The Wire’s’ inverse economies of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable,” Simon, a Baltimore native, said.
“But only John Waters has made being not right, not normal, not ordinary, nor expected seem so, well, Baltimore,” Simon added. “Time and again, on film and in prose and eventually on Broadway, he has celebrated the very American notion that there is, in fact, no normal. That we are all, if we are honest, at least two standard deviations from the mean. In Baltimore, it is our goddamn birthright. I’ve shared my crew with this man. I’ve shared some cast, at points. I’ve shared some meals and jokes and the very real benefit of his having been a pioneer for a film community that has punched well beyond its weight class. But most of all, like damn near every Baltimorean, I am proud that I share a city with this fine storyteller.”
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The Hunter Award has been presented to Andrew Bergman, John Sayles, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Richard LaGravenese, John Patrick Shanley, Claire Labine, and Nora Ephron.
In 1972, Waters wrote and directed “Pink Flamingos,” which became one of his most notorious films. He followed the success with “Female Trouble,” “Desperate Living,” “Polyester,” and 1988’s “Hairspray,” which has been remade, turned into a musical, and a live TV event.
Waters also directed “Serial Mom,” “Pecker,” “Cecil B. Demented,” and 2004’s “A Dirty Shame.”