The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air were the night’s big winners on the film side while Mad Men, 30 Rock and Modern Family took home the winged trophy for achievements on the small screen at the annual Writers Guild Awards, held Saturday in Los Angeles. While accepting one of two awards for Modern Family, creator/executive producer Steve Levitan told the crowd that because TV was “so screwed up and mismanaged,” many of his writing peers have been rooting for the single-camera comedy’s success on ABC. “Thanks for that, Jeff Zucker,” Levitan said — a reference to the NBC Universal Chairman’s failed attempt to launch Jay Leno’s show in prime time, which put many writers out of work this season.
Zucker, in fact, got name-checked twice during the night. Chris Rock, who was there to present the prizes for best variety show, used his time at the mike to criticize NBC’s recent treatment of Conan O’Brien. “Zucker is like the Elgin Baylor of TV,” said Rock, referencing the ex-vice president of the woeful L.A. Clippers NBA franchise. Rock also had a few side-splitting comments about Tiger Woods (unfortunately, they’re too dirty to repeat here).
Host Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) opened the night with a clever redux of The Music Man song “Trouble” that skewered the networks’ shameless reliance on writer-free, reality show programming. “Trouble…with a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for crap!” he sang. And Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), had a special message for Paddy Chayefsky, the acclaimed writer who inspired the Laurel Award that’s given annually to scribes who’ve made outstanding contributions. “I am very, very sorry,” said David, this year’s recipient.
Here were the night’s winners:
Original screenplay: The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal
Adapted screenplay: Up in the Air, screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
Documentary screenplay: The Cove, written by Mark Monroe
Drama series: Mad Men
Comedy series: 30 Rock
New series: Modern Family
Episodic drama: “Broken, Part 1 and Part 2,” House, written by Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, David Foster and David Shore
Episodic comedy: “Apollo, Apollo,” 30 Rock, written by Robert Carlock, and the pilot of Modern Family, written by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd
Animation, any length (all nominations in category were for The Simpsons): “Take My life, Please,” The Simpsons, written by Don Payne
Longform, original: Georgia O’Keeffe, written by Michael Cristofer
Longform, adaptation: Taking Chance, teleplay by Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Strobl, USMC (Ret.) and Ross Katz, Based on the short story by Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Strobl, USMC (Ret.).
Comedy/variety: Saturday Night Live & The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Daytime serial: The Young and the Restless
Children’s episodic: “Welcome to the Jungle,” The Troop, written by Max Burnett
Children’s script, longform: Another Cinderella Story, ABC Family, written by Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott