In keeping with the mood of current mood of Hollywood’s creative community, the 2018 Writers Guild of America West Awards was largely focused on rewarding projects that flexed the power of using a voice to either shed light and understanding on subjects too long dismissed, ignored or marginalized, or to critique, satirize or allegorize unjust social conditions or political agendas.
The proudly defiant sentiment resulted big wins for perspective-rich projects such as Get Out (original screenplay) Call Me by Your Name (adapted screenplay), The Handmaid’s Tale (drama series and new series), Veep (comedy series), Flint (original longform program), Big Little Lies (adapted longform Program), Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (comedy/variety talk series) and Saturday Night Live (comedy/variety sketch series)
Along the way, there was plenty of both playful and pointed jabs at the rapidly changing entertainment industry itself, beginning with L.A. host Patton Oswalt’s opening line to the assembled screenwriters, producers, directors and actors in the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom, in a nod to the current wave of corporate mega-consolidation: “Good evening, fellow Disney employees.” (The WGA Awards were handed out Sunday night at simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.)
Oswalt also pointed out that from his reckoning it was the 2008 writers strike that led producers “who had to make their alimony payments” to desperately scramble to seek out no-scripted content including The Apprentice” the reality competition series that made a household name and “launched the unchecked ascent” of President Trump.
“The best way to make comedy without writers was to point cameras at assholes,” Oswalt noted. “The next time you think of taking away writers’ jobs and developing a show without a true scribe, I want you to imagine one thing. … President Theodore Nugent. And never fuck with writers again.”
In a comic nod to how the #MeToo movement had also made the use of pretty models to hand out awards trophies unpalatable, the comedian also introduced the “Trophy Maids,” a pair of female presenters in full Handmaid’s Tale regalia to deliver the statuettes, whom he noted were named, in the series’ style, “Ofwilliamgoldman and Ofgavinpalone.”
Later in the show, Oswalt welcomed California’s U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, who’s made headlines of late battling for declassification of the Democratic rebuttal to the infamous Republican-crafted memo claiming FBI surveillance abuses, thus far stymied by Trump.
“Adam has written the hottest spec script in town. And he can’t get his boss to read it,” quipped Oswalt.
WGA West president David A. Goodman also didn’t shy away from hot topics in his remarks, pledging to throw the guild’s support firmly behind battling sexual harassment, and adding, self-reflectively, that “I’m tired of the president of the WGA being a white Jewish male.”
“I ran for this position unopposed – I’m not beloved,” noted Goodman. “If you’re tired of being led by a guy who sounds like Ray Romano and looks like the guy from the Subway commercials, get involved, stay involved and lead.”
Comedienne Kathy Griffin, appearing as a presenter, also added an element of danger to the proceedings with a lengthy preamble that left some in the crowd squirming and some cheering: nine months after experiencing a powerful backlash and loss of work after posting a photo of herself with a simulated decapitated head of Trump on social media, Griffin led with faux-thanking “all the powerful writers and showrunners in this room for fucking no support. Where the fuck have you been? I was supposed to thank everyone for their support – no one’s lifted a finger.”
Griffin also decried that the fact her writing has been limited to “shitty, low budget cable my whole career,” due in her view to her gender and her age, and pointed out that she also holds records for writing more stand-up comedy specials – 23 – than anyone else, male or female, but none of them were union. “I hope that we can bridge that gap,” she said.
“I want you to learn from my experience, because if you think you can’t happen to you, it can, and it can happen like that,” she said with the snap of a finger. “You may have hated that photo, and that’s OK, but if one of your 12-year-old kids puts it on Twitter, they shouldn’t have to be under a two-month federal investigation, be on the no-fly list, be on the Interpol list.”
(Excerpt) Read More in: The Hollywood Reporter