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Former ‘Letterman’ Head Writer Merrill Markoe to Receive Writers Guild Honor

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Courtesy of WGA West

Merrill Markoe, longtime head writer at “Late Night With David Letterman,” will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement.

She will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards on Feb. 1 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“Merrill Markoe’s pioneering work created what was then a new language of comedy in television, and her writing has influenced every comedy variety series in the last three decades. We are truly honored to give her this award,” said WGA West president David A. Goodman.

Markoe has been a member of the WGA West since 1977. She’s best known as the co-creator and original head writer of 1980’s “The David Letterman Show,” for which she shared a Daytime Emmy Award. Markoe went on to earn six Emmy nominations and share three Emmy Awards for her work on “Late Night With David Letterman,” creating many of the show,s signature segments, including “Stupid Pet Tricks,” “Stupid Human Tricks” and “Viewer Mail.”

Markoe also shared a 1990 Writers Guild Award for her work as a writer-performer on HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News.” Markoe’s additional TV writing credits have included “Newhart,” “Moonlighting,” “Sex and the City,” “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “The Best Times” and “Buffalo Bill,” as well as several solo HBO specials.

Marko has published four novels and four books of humorous essays, including “Cool, Calm & Contentious,” “Nose Down, Eyes Up: A Novel,” “Walking in Circles Before Lying Down: A Novel,” “The Psycho Ex Game,” “It’s My F**king Birthday,” “Merrill Markoe’s Guide to Love” and “What the Dogs Have Taught Me: And Other Amazing Things I’ve Learned.”

The Chayefsky trophy is the WGA West’s highest award for television writing. Past recipients include Jenji Kohan, Diane English, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Bochco, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, Shonda Rhimes, David Chase, Marta Kauffman & David Crane, Larry David, Garry Marshall and Alison Cross.