LEAH SYDNEY reports from the West Coast Writers Guild awards ceremony: Cleverness, graciousness and wit were the orders of the night at the WGA West Awards. Writers are a supportive bunch and all were touting each other’s work. Before the ceremony began, David O. Russell was the toast of the night. It seemed like everyone was telling him how much they love “Silver Linings.” Gracious David was chatting with all. “Lincoln” screenwriter Tony Kushner went over to Mindy Kaling to tell her how much he loved her show, ‘The Mindy Project.”
Jessica Chastain joined in. Jessica told me she’s finally catching up on some rest now that her Broadway stint in ‘The Heiress’ is over. Jackie Weaver told honoree Phil Rosenthal that it’s still her and her husband’s favorite show. Jackie told me that her husband, who is also an actor, can’t make it to the Academy Awards because he’s working. Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow–the “Zero Dark Thirty” pair– were very much together. Mark told me that he tries to remain even-keeled about it all. “It is what it is,” he said.
The ceremony began with host Nathan Fillion of TV’s “Castle” remarking,” We can all agree on one thing, that Producers can sure be dicks…right? ”
When the best daytime drama was announced, (Young and Restless later won) ‘serious’ clips of the soaps were shown cracking up the crowd.
The mood shifted when Steven Spielberg gave the Paul Selvin Award to Tony Kushner. Steven remarked, “Nothing gives a filmmaker more security than having a writer by your side. Tony’s background is in theater, I got notes from him every half hour. His love for the great American experiment is unlike I’ve ever seen. One of the greatest values of Democracy is to speak up for the marginalized. Tony gives them a voice. I believe Tony got to know Lincoln in a profound way.”
Tony countered by calling Steven, “a monumental mensch.” Tony also commented that, “it was great knowing I was going to get this. It took some of the edge off.”
The famed playwright Tom Stoppard received the Laurel Award for Screen. Tom’s wish list of the two lines he had written? Tom says, “I’m not a great screenwriter, I’m a bit talkative,” Tom then went on, “I would have given so much to have written that line when Tommy Lee Jones says to Harrison Ford in ‘The Fugitive,’ I don’t care.” The other line is when Bill Murray in ‘Ghostbusters,’ zapped the Amazonian deity and said, ‘That chick is toast.”
Phil Rosenthal, who received the Valentine Davies Award from Brad Garrett, whom Phil called “my favorite oversized Hebrew.” Phil got the biggest laughs of the night. Phil then went on to say, “if you’re lucky enough to do well in life, it’s your obligation to help those around you,” which got the biggest applause of the night. Not to be too serious, Phil ended his funny speech with, “thanks to the WGA West, not the East, they’re assholes.”
Chris Terrio (“Argo”) won and honestly recounted how when he started to write the script in 2008, “I was broke, I couldn’t pay my rent, I defaulted on my student loans.” Chris later went on to thank Ben Affleck, “Ben told me he’s watching on the internet. He’s a kind, good man.”
Mark Boal later won and thanked Kathyrn Bigelow profusely, “She took this script and made it live and fly. “