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‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,’ ‘Promising Young Woman’ Win at Writers Guild Awards 2021

Borat Promising Young Woman Ted Lasso
Courtesy of Amazon/Focus Features/Apple TV

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and “Promising Young Woman” took top narrative film honors on Sunday at the 73rd annual Writers Guild of America Awards.

Kal Penn hosted the virtual presentation that cemented “Borat” and “Promising Young Woman” as among the frontrunners for Oscar screenplay wins next month.

Amazon Studios’ “Borat” prevailed for adapted screenplay for a large contingent of scribes led by star and director Sacha Baron Cohen. Focus Features’ “Promising Young Woman” was recognized for original screenplay with the win for writer-director Emerald Fennell.

Fennell is on a white-hot streak as a writer, director and actor known for her role as Camilla Parker-Bowles on “The Crown,” which won the trophy for drama series. She made a point of noting the importance of the WGA to her career.

Speaking from what she described as her “bleak writer’s room in London,” Fennell told the crowd, “It’s such a big deal to me that I’m a member of this organization.”

Baron Cohen made a joke about most of the WGA’s membership having worked on his movie, which credits no less than nine writers for the script and story. The “unpredictable” nature of Baron Cohen’s improvisational milieu makes writing complicated, the auteur acknowledged — with a jab at one of the real-life figures who has a memorable scene in the film: “Rudolph Giuliani, who did everything we hoped for,” he said.

With its virtual format, the WGA kudos were shorter and more subdued than in years past. The WGA West and WGA East typically hold simultaneous ceremonies on both coasts, but this year the effort was consolidated. WGA West president David Goodman made a brief mention of the guild’s battle with Hollywood’s largest talent agencies and its success in bringing long-sought reforms to the rules that govern how agents represent guild members.

“Our agency campaign has made us true partners again with our agency representatives,” Goodman said after taking a jab at Ari Emanuel, CEO of WME parent Endeavor.

Apple TV comedy “Ted Lasso” also continued its hot streak, taking the award for new series as well as the top comedy series kudo, which comes on the heels of its Golden Globe comedy series win earlier this month. Past shows to pull off the new series and top drama or comedy series win in the same year at the WGA Awards include HBO’s “True Detective” in 2014, FX’s “Atlanta” in 2016 and Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 2017.

“Keep watching TV,” enthused “Ted Lasso” executive producer Bill Lawrence as he accepted the trophy for new series.

Showtime’s “Desus & Mero” took the win for comedy/variety talk series. Hulu’s “The Great” won for episodic comedy for writer Tom McNamara. Netflix’s “Ozark” scored for episodic drama series for “Fire Pink” penned by Miki Johnson.

“The Dissident,” from Briarcliff Entertainment, was recognized for documentary screenplay for writers Mark Monroe and Bryan Fogel.

Netflix scored another big win for adapted long form for “The Queen’s Gambit,” penned by Scott Frank and Allan Scott from the novel by Walter Tevis. FX was represented in the original long form heat for “Mrs. America,” for the team led by showrunner/executive producer Dahvi Waller.

Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” prevailed in the animation category, giving Nick Adams the trophy for the “Xerox of a Xerox” episode of the offbeat series’ final season. Showtime’s “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020” special clinched the laurel for comedy/variety special.

Here’s the full winners list:


Original Screenplay

“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros) – Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas

“Palm Springs” (Hulu/Neon) – Screenplay by Andy Siara, Story by Andy Siara & Max Barbakow

>>WINNER: “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features) – Written by Emerald Fennell

“Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios) – Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder, Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Written by Aaron Sorkin

Adapted Screenplay

>>WINNER: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios) – Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern, Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad, Based on Characters Created by Sacha Baron Cohen

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix) – Screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Based on the Play Written by August Wilson

“News of the World” (Universal Pictures) – Screenplay by Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies, Based upon the Novel by Paulette Jiles

“One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Screenplay by Kemp Powers, Based on the Stage Play “One Night in Miami” by Kemp Powers

“The White Tiger” (Netflix) – Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani, Based on the Book “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga

Documentary Screenplay

“All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios) – Written by Jack Youngelson

>>WINNER: “The Dissident” (Briarcliff Entertainment) – Written by Mark Monroe and Bryan Fogel

“Herb Alpert Is…” (Abramorama) – Written by John Scheinfeld

“Red Penguins” (Universal Pictures) – Written by Gabe Polsky

“Totally Under Control” (Neon) – Written by Alex Gibney


Drama Series

>>WINNER: “The Crown,” Written by Peter Morgan, Jonathan Wilson; Netflix

“Better Call Saul,” Written by Ann Cherkis, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Ariel Levine, Heather Marion, Thomas Schnauz, Gordon Smith, Alison Tatlock; AMC

“The Boys,” Written by Eric Kripke, Ellie Monahan, Anslem Richardson, Craig Rosenberg, Michael Saltzman, Rebecca Sonnenshine; Amazon Prime Video

“The Mandalorian,” Written by Rick Famuyiwa, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni; Disney Plus

“Ozark,” Written by Laura Deeley, Bill Dubuque, Paul Kolsby, Miki Johnson, Chris Mundy, John Shiban, Ning Zhou, Martin Zimmerman; Netflix

(Last Year’s Winner: “Succession”/HBO)

Comedy Series

>>WINNER: “Ted Lasso,” Written by Jane Becker, Leann Bowen, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, Bill Lawrence, Jamie Lee, Jason Sudeikis, Phoebe Walsh, Bill Wrubel; Apple TV Plus

“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Written by Larry David, Justin Hurwitz, Steve Leff, Carol Leifer, Jeff Schaffer; HBO

“The Great,” Written by Vanessa Alexander, Tony McNamara, Tess Morris, Amelia Roper, Gretel Vella, James Wood; Hulu

“PEN15,” Written by; Alyssa DiMari, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Josh Levine, Gabe Liedman, Rachele Lynn, Vera Santamaria, Diana Tay, Sam Zvibleman; Hulu

“What We Do in the Shadows,” Written by Jake Bender, Jemaine Clement, Zach Dunn, Joseph Furey, Shana Gohd, Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil, William Meny, Sarah Naftalis, Stefani Robinson, Marika Sawyer, Paul Simms; FX Networks

(Last Year’s Winner: “Barry”—HBO)

New Series

>>WINNER: “Ted Lasso,” Written by Jane Becker, Leann Bowen, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, Bill Lawrence, Jamie Lee, Jason Sudeikis, Phoebe Walsh, Bill Wrubel; Apple TV Plus

“Dave,” Written by Dave Burd, Vanessa McGee, Saladin Patterson, Luvh Rakhe, Alex Russell, Jeff Schaffer, Max Searle, Yamara Taylor; FX Networks

“The Flight Attendant,” Written by Kara Lee Corthron, Michael Foley, Ryan Jennifer Jones, Ticona S. Joy, Meredith Lavender, Jess Meyer, Daniele Nathanson, Marcie Ulin, Ian Weinreich, Steve Yockey; HBO Max

“The Great,” Written by Vanessa Alexander, Tony McNamara, Tess Morris, Amelia Roper, Gretel Vella, James Wood; Hulu

“Lovecraft Country,” Written by Misha Green, Shannon Houston, Jonathan Kidd, Kevin Lau, Ihuoma Ofordire, Wes Taylor, Sonya Winton; HBO

(Last Year’s Winner: “Watchmen”—HBO)

Original Long Form

>>WINNER: “Mrs. America,” Written by Tanya Barfield, Joshua Griffith, Sharon Hoffman, Boo Killebrew, Micah Schraft, April Shih, Dahvi Waller; FX Networks

“Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story,” Written by Aaron Carew, Alexandra Cunningham, Lex Edness, Kevin J. Hynes, Juliet Lashinsky-Revene, Stacy A. Littlejohn, Katherine B. McKenna; USA

“Hollywood,” Written by Ian Brennan, Janet Mock, Ryan Murphy, Reilly Smith; Netflix

“Safety,” Written by Nick Santora; Disney Plus

“Uncle Frank,” Written by Alan Ball; Amazon Prime Video

(Last Year’s Winner: “Chernobyl”—HBO)

Adapted Long Form

>>WINNER: “The Queen’s Gambit,” Written by Scott Frank, Allan Scott, Based on the novel by Walter Tevis; Netflix

“Bad Education,” Written by Mike Makowsky, Based on the New York Magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker; HBO

“Clouds,” Screenplay by Kara Holden; Story by Casey La Scala & Patrick Kopka and Kara Holden, Based on the book entitled “Fly A Little Higher’ by Laura Sobiech; Disney Plus

“The Good Lord Bird,” Written by Jeff Augustin, Ethan Hawke, Erika L. Johnson, Mark Richard, Kristen SaBerre, Lauren Signorino, Based on the Novel by James McBride; Showtime

“Little Fires Everywhere,” Written by Harris Danow, Rosa Handelman, Shannon Houston, Attica Locke, Raamla Mohamed, Amy Talkington, Liz Tigelaar, Nancy Won, Based on the book by Celeste Ng; Hulu

(Last Year’s Winner: “Fosse/Verdon”—FX)

Original and Adapted Short Form New Media

>>WINNER: “#FREERAYSHAWN,” Written by Marc Maurino; Quibi

“Better Call Saul Employee Training: Legal Ethics with Kim Wexler,” Written by Ariel Levine; AMC Digital on YouTube

“Most Dangerous Game,” Written by Nick Santora, Story by Josh Harmon and Scott Elder; Quibi

(Last Year’s Winner: “Special”—Netflix)

* Per Writers Guild Awards submission rules, if there are insufficient entries in any category, those entries may be placed in another category.


>>WINNER: “Xerox of a Xerox” (BoJack Horseman), Written by Nick Adams; Netflix

“A Springfield Summer Christmas For Christmas” (The Simpsons), Written by Jessica Conrad; Fox

“Bart The Bad Guy” (The Simpsons), Written by Dan Vebber; Fox

“I, Carumbus” (The Simpsons), Written by Cesar Mazariegos; Fox

“Prank You for Being A Friend” (Bob’s Burgers), Written by Katie Crown; Fox

“Three Dreams Denied” (The Simpsons), Written by Danielle Weisberg; Fox

(Last Year’s Winner: “The Simpsons” episode “Thanksgiving of Horror”—Fox)

Episodic Drama

>>WINNER: “Fire Pink” (Ozark), Written by Miki Johnson; Netflix

“Bad Choice Road” (Better Call Saul), Written by Thomas Schnauz; AMC

“JMM” (Better Call Saul), Written by Alison Tatlock; AMC

“Raised by Wolves” (Raised by Wolves), Written by Aaron Guzikowski; HBO Max

“Something Unforgivable” (Better Call Saul), Written by Peter Gould & Ariel Levine; AMC

“Trouble Don’t Last Always” (Euphoria), Written by Sam Levinson; HBO

(Last Year’s Winner: “Succession” episode “Tern Haven”—HBO)

Episodic Comedy

>>WINNER: “The Great” (The Great), Written by Tony McNamara; Hulu

“Grandma & Chill” (Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens), Written by Kyle Lau; Comedy Central

“It’s Not You, It’s Me” (Dead to Me), Written by Liz Feldman & Kelly Hutchinson; Netflix

“Pilot” (Ted Lasso), Teleplay by Jason Sudeikis & Bill Lawrence, Story by Jason Sudeikis & Bill Lawrence & Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly; Apple TV Plus

“The Tank” (Grace & Frankie), Written by Alex Kavallierou; Netflix

“Trick” (High Maintenance), Written by Isaac Oliver; HBO

(Last Year’s Winner: “Dead to Me” episode “Pilot”—Netflix)

Comedy/Variety Talk Series

>>WINNER: “Desus & Mero,” Writers: Daniel “Desus Nice” Baker, Claire Friedman, Ziwe Fumudoh, Josh Gondelman, Robert Kornhauser, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez, Heben Nigatu, Mike Pielocik, Julia Young; Showtime

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” Writers: Kristen Bartlett, Samantha Bee, Pat Cassels, Sean Crespo, Mike Drucker, Mathan Erhardt, Joe Grossman, Miles Kahn, Sahar Rizvi, Chris Thompson, Holly Walker, Alison Zeidman; TBS

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Writers: Johnathan Appel, Ali Barthwell, Tim Carvell, Liz Hynes, Greg Iwinski, Mark Kramer, Daniel O’Brien, John Oliver, Owen Parsons, Charlie Redd, Joanna Rothkopf, Chrissy Shackelford, Ben Silva, Seena Vali; HBO

“Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Head Writer: Alex Baze Writing Supervised by: Seth Reiss Closer Look Writing Supervised by: Sal Gentile Writers: Jermaine Affonso, Karen Chee, Bryan Donaldson, Matt Goldich, Dina Gusovsky, Jenny Hagel, Allison Hord, Mike Karnell, John Lutz, Seth Meyers, Ian Morgan, John Mulaney, Amber Ruffin, Mike Scollins, Mike Shoemaker, Ben Warheit, Jeff Wright; NBC

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Head Writers: Ariel Dumas, Jay Katsir Writers: Delmonte Bent, Michael Brumm, River Clegg, Aaron Cohen, Nicole Conlan, Stephen T. Colbert, Paul Dinello, Glenn Eichler, Django Gold, Gabe Gronli, Barry Julien, Michael Cruz Kayne, Eliana Kwartler, Matt Lappin, Felipe Torres Medina, Opus Moreschi, Asher Perlman, Tom Purcell, Kate Sidley, Brian Stack, John Thibodeaux, Steve Waltien; CBS

(Last Year’s Winner: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”—HBO)

Comedy/Variety Specials

>>WINNER: “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020,” Head Writers: Ariel Dumas, Jay Katsir Writers: Delmonte Bent, Michael Brumm, River Clegg, Aaron Cohen, Stephen T. Colbert, Nicole Conlan, Paul Dinello, Glenn Eichler, Django Gold, Gabe Gronli, Barry Julien, Michael Cruz Kayne, Eliana Kwartler, Matt Lappin, Felipe Torres Medina, Opus Moreschi, Asher Perlman, Tom Purcell, Kate Sidley, Brian Stack, John Thibodeaux, Steve Waltien; Showtime

“30 Rock: A One-Time Special,” Written by Tina Fey & Robert Carlock; NBC

“Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish),” Written by Nancy Meyers; YouTube

“Yearly Departed,” Head Writer: Bess Kalb Writers: Karen Chee, Akilah Green, Franchesca Ramsey, Jocelyn Richard; Amazon Studios

(Last Year’s Winner: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Part 2”)—TBS)

Comedy/Variety Sketch Series

>>WINNER: “At Home with Amy Sedaris,” Writers: Jeremy Beiler, Cole Escola, Peter Grosz, Amy Sedaris; truTV

“How To with John Wilson,” Writers: Alice Gregory, Michael Koman, John Wilson; HBO

“The Amber Ruffin Show,” Head Writer: Jenny Hagel Writers: Demi Adejuyigbe, Shantira Jackson, Dewayne Perkins, Amber Ruffin Additional Material by John Lutz; Peacock

(Last Year’s Winner: “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson”—Netflix)

Quiz and Audience Participation

>>WINNER: “Weakest Link,” Head Writer: Ann Slichter Writers: Chip Dornell, Paul Greenberg, Joyce Ikemi, Stuart Krasnow, Jon Macks, Mona Mira, Scott Saltzburg, Aaron Solomon, Chris Sturgeon, Grant Taylor; NBC

“Hollywood Game Night,” Head Writers: Ann Slichter, Grant Taylor Writers: Michael Agbabian, Allie Kokesh, Dwight D. Smith; NBC

“Jeopardy!,” Writers: Matthew Caruso, John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Billy Wisse; ABC

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Celebrity Season,” Head Writer: Bobby Patton Writers: Alan Bailey, Josh Halloway, Seth Harrington, Shawn Kennedy; Disney/ABC Syndication

(Last Year’s Winner: “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader”—Nickelodeon)

Daytime Drama

>>WINNER: “Days of Our Lives,” Head Writer: Ron Carlivati Writers: Lorraine Broderick, Joanna Cohen, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, David Kreizman, Rebecca McCarty, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Katherine D. Schock, Elizabeth Snyder; NBC

“General Hospital,” Head Writers: Dan O’Connor, Christopher Van Etten Associate Head Writer: Anna Theresa Cascio Writers: Barbara Bloom, Suzanne Flynn, Charlotte Gibson, Lucky Gold, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, David Rupel, Lisa Seidman, Donny Sheldon, Scott Sickles; ABC

(Last Year’s Winner: “The Young and the Restless”—CBS)

Children’s Episodic, Long Form and Specials

>>WINNER: “The Sleepover,” Written by Sarah Rothschild; Netflix

“Countdown” (The Astronauts), Written by Dan Knauf; Nickelodeon

“Mo Willems And The Storytime All Stars Present: Don’t Let The Pigeon Do Storytime,”
Written by Mo Willems, Based on the children’s books and published by Hyperion: Leonard the Terrible Monster; Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale; A Busy Creature’s Day Eating!; Elephant and Piggy’s Waiting is Not Easy!; and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus; HBO Max

“The Not Too Late Show with Elmo,” Writers: Geri Cole, Scott Gray, Benjamin Lehmann, Wendy Marston, Andrew Moriarty, Ken Scarborough, Moujan Zolfaghari; HBO Max

“The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special,” Written by Geri Cole; HBO Max

“Speaking of Cancer” (Alexa & Katie), Written by Leo Chu & Eric S. Garcia & Julia Miranda; Netflix

(Last Year’s Winner: “Remember Black Elvis?”—Netflix)

Documentary Script — Current Events

>>WINNER: “Agents of Chaos, Part II,” Written by Alex Gibney & Michael J. Palmer; HBO Documentary Films

“Agents of Chaos, Part I,” Written by Alex Gibney & Michael J. Palmer; HBO Documentary Films

“The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS

“Whose Vote Counts” (Frontline), Written by Jelani Cobb, June Cross & Tom Jennings; PBS

(Last Year’s Winner: “Trump’s Trade War”/Frontline—PBS)

Documentary Script — Other Than Current Events

>>WINNER: “Opioids, Inc.” (Frontline), Written by Tom Jennings PBS

“The Poison Squad” (American Experience), Written by John Maggio; PBS

“The Violence Paradox” (Nova), Written by Michael Bicks and Anna Lee Strachan; PBS

(Last Year’s Winner: “Right to Fail”/Frontline—PBS)

News Script — Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, or Breaking Report

>>WINNER: “Anger in America” (World News Tonight with David Muir), Written by Dave Bloch, David Muir, Karen Mooney, David Schoetz; ABC News

“Critical Condition” (60 Minutes), Written by Katie Kerbstat Jacobson, Scott Pelley, Nicole Young; CBS News

“Gale Sayers Obit,” Written by Joe McLaughlin; WCBS-TV

“The Wild West of Covid Testing” (60 Minutes), Written by Sharyn Alfonsi, Oriana Zill de Granados; CBS News

(Last Year’s Winner: “Terror in America: The Massacres in El Paso and Dayton”—CBS)

News Script – Analysis, Feature or Commentary

>>WINNER: “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming,” Written by Dave Bloch; ABC News

“Exhume the Truth” (60 Minutes), Written by Katie Kerbstat Jacobson, Scott Pelley, Nicole Young; CBS News

“The African Basketball Trail” (60 Minutes), Written by Oriana Zill de Granados; CBS News

(Last Year’s Winner: “Fly Like An Eagle”—60 Minutes/CBS)

Digital News

>>WINNER: “The Store That Called the Cops on George Floyd,” Written by Aymann Ismail; Slate.com

“Pornhub Doesn’t Care,” Written by Samantha Cole and Emanuel Maiberg; Vice.com

“This Week Has Happened Before,” Written by Julia Craven; Slate.com

“Why Did the Government Separate This Family?” Written by Jeremy Stahl; Slate.com

(Last Year’s Winner: “Stories About My Brother,” written by Prachi Gupta—Jezebel.com)

On-Air Promotion

>>WINNER: “Get Out The Vote – Check Out Those Moves,” Written by Meghana Reddy and
Angad Bhalla; Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

“Can You See It?” Written by Meghana Reddy and Angad Bhalla; Facebook

“Launch Trailers,” Written by Molly Neylan; CBS All Access

Radio/Audio News Script – Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report

>>WINNER: “Changemakers: Leaders Who Made a Difference,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS News Radio

“CBS News on the Hour with Norah O’Donnell, March 10, 2020,” Written by James Hutton; CBS New Radio

“World News This Week, November 13, 2020,” Written by Joan Harris; ABC News Radio/WNTW Podcasts

(Last Year’s Winner: “Hail and Farewell: Remembering Some Headline Makers,” written by Gail Lee; CBS News Radio)

Radio/Audio News Script – Analysis, Feature or Commentary

>>WINNER: “Against Those Thugs: Delores Tucker and Bill Bennett” (Slow Burn) Written by Joel Anderson, Christopher Johnson; Slate Podcasts

“Instrument of Hope,” Written by Christopher Barry; ABC News Audio

“The Gist: Spiel, April 3, 2020,” Written by Mike Pesca; Slate Podcasts

(Last Year’s Winner: “The Enduring Legacy of Jackie Kennedy Onassis,” written by Dianne E. James, Gail Lee; CBS News Radio)


Netflix 5
ABC News 2
Apple TV Plus 2
Showtime 2
Slate.com 2
CBS News Radio 1
FX Networks 1
Hulu 1
Quibi 1
TruTV 1
Facebook/Instagram/YouTube 1