The Writers Guild of America West has named screenwriter John McNamara the recipient of its Paul Selvin Award for his screenplay for “Trumbo.”
Based on the biography by Bruce Cook, the film chronicles the life of Blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, exploring issues of political freedom, censorship and civil liberties.
McNamara, who is also a producer on “Trumbo,” will be recognized at the Writers Guild Awards L.A. ceremony on Feb. 13, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. He recently received a WGA Adapted Screenplay nomination for his script.
“The Paul Selvin Award honors ‘that member whose work best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere,’” said WGA West President Howard A. Rodman. “Though we’ve given it since 1989, it might as well have been purpose-built for John McNamara’s ‘Trumbo.’ In shining light on a dark corner of our history, while at the same time illuminating Dalton Trumbo from within, John McNamara has both illustrated and embodied the importance of courageous writing.”
McNamara said he had met several blacklisted screenwriters while a student at NYU.
“Arthur Laurents, Waldo Salt and Ring Lardner, Jr. eloquently and selflessly brought that dark time to life for me, while Ian McLellan Hunter painted a both ennobling and warty portrait of his good friend Dalton Trumbo,” he said. “In the same way I share this award with biographer Bruce Cook, ShivHans, Bleecker Street, director Jay Roach and the crew, Michael London and our fellow producers, Bryan Cranston and the whole cast, I share it with my four fellow writers whose words first convinced me this story needed telling.”
Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Ten, targeted for their political beliefs by the House Un-American Activities Committee during its investigation into alleged Communist influences in the entertainment industry. He refused to name names and served nearly a year in federal prison after being convicted of contempt of Congress.
Trumbo has Academy Awards for screenplays he wrote while being blacklisted: “Roman Holiday” – credited to his “front,” fellow screenwriter Ian McLellan Hunter – and for his screenplay for “The Brave One,” originally credited to “Robert Rich,” Trumbo’s pseudonym.
It was not until 1975 that the Academy formally recognized “Trumbo” for “The Brave One” and presented him with his Oscar statuette. In 1993 he was posthumously awarded his Oscar for writing “Roman Holiday” and in 2011, the Writers Guild formally announced that Trumbo’s screenwriting credit for “Roman Holiday” had been restored.
McNamara has been a WGA member since 1985. He created 2015’s NBC period crime drama series “Aquarius” and is a co-creator of the new SyFy series “The Magicians” and “Eyes and Profit.” He was also a writer and producer on ABC’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”
Previous recipients of the Paul Selvin Award include Tony Kushner, Dustin Lance Black, Tate Taylor, Eric Roth, Michael Mann, Larry Karaszewski & Scott Alexander, Robert Eisele & Jeffrey Porro, Anthony Peckham, Alex Gibney and, most recently, Margaret Nagle.