It was a big night at the Writers Guild of America Awards for the Television Series Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Americans, and The Assassination of Gianni Versace. A string of series were also honored over last night, as well as over the past several months, including FX’s spy family drama The Americans which earned the drama series honor for its final season. Amazon retro darling The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won for comedy series, FX’s true-crime limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story won for adapted longform series, and Hulu’s Stephen King-inspired thriller Castle Rock for original longform series. HBO’s hitman comedy Barry also garnered two award wins for both new series and episodic comedy.
Host Chelsea Peretti took to the podium at the West Coast ceremony, starting with a self-aware self-deprecating monologue of the Hollywood scribes, characterizing the galas as having “all the glitz and glamour of the Oscars without the pressure of public interest.” “I’ve been going to so many Hollywood parties, it’s refreshing to just look out and remember what regular people look like,” Peretti quipped. Indeed, even the evening’s biggest winners lived up to the writers’ out-of-the-spotlight reputation, as a litany of honorees offered worshipful onstage shout-outs to Howard, who sat stage-side in L.A. awaiting his turn to pay tribute to his frequent screenwriting duo Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement.
When Howard finally took the stage, he likened the experience to seeing the many A-list actors that spread themselves out amongst the Academy Awards ceremony,”[But] this is the WGA — you get Ron Howard.” Next to Howard’s famed duo came Joan Meyerson who received the Morgan Cox Award for her guild service; and showrunner Jenji Kohan who received the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement for her game-changing work on series including Weeds, Orange is the New Black, and Glow.
In New York, hot Roy Wood Jr. from Daily Show fame opened his monologue by jokingly urging his fellow guilders to follow President Trump’s lead when negotiating with the Association of Talent Agents. “There’s a great book that I want to recommend to you. It’s called The Art of the Deal. A brilliant author, an amazing author,” he joked. “I want you to negotiate with the agents the same way our government has negotiated recently with the Democrats. I want you to stand your ground on the funding you need. If you don’t get the funding you need, then you shut down all work, and then return to work and agree to a deal that gets you less money than you would’ve gotten had you not stopped working in the first place.”
He also poked fun at the recent political missteps, joking that the WGA “knew by hiring me there’d be no blackface scandal.” Going on to mention and quip about Netflix, Amazon, and the man who directed and starred in A Quiet Place, John Krasinski.
And near the end of the show came some special achievement awards as the Julianna Margulies presented Tom Fontana with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for career achievement. The 35-time Emmy award nomination creator was well deserved for such prestige, as was Black List founder Franklin Leonard who received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award. Leonard spoke with the Hollywood Reporter before the ceremony where he indicated how truly grateful he was to be recognized by his peers, “I’ve always thought of it as the biggest honor of my career to support writers, so to have them think that I have been helpful is definitely the greatest honor of my life. It feels a bit like a dream.”
He would go on to surmise that writers should “do more.” Stating: “I ask you to tell the stories of people whose stories have not yet been told: The women, the people of color, the poor, the gay, the trans, the people who are all of the above. Find other writers who can and will do so and give them what they need to have so that they can be in this room nominated for the awards that you’re nominated for and winning the awards you’re receiving tonight,” Leonard told the audience. “It is good for business. It is good for the culture and it is good for the world. You writers are the only ones who can. Whatever happens, I and the Black List will be here to help.”