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Writers Guild Award Goes to ‘Dances With Wolves’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The epic Western “Dances With Wolves” picked up yet another honor Wednesday night on what appears to be a steady, sure march to Monday night’s Oscar ceremonies.

Sceenwriter Michael Blake’s script for the film, directed by and starring Kevin Costner, was honored by the Writers Guild of America as best screenplay of 1990 based on material from another medium.

In ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton, the Guild also gave screenwriter-director Barry Levinson an award for best original screenplay for “Avalon,” his personal tale of an immigrant family’s assimilation in America.

Both “Wolves” and “Avalon” are nominated in Oscar screenplay categories.

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On the television side, “The Incident,” a film starring Walter Matthau as a stateside small-town lawyer defending a German prisoner of war during World War II, picked up the Guild prize for best original long-form presentation. The CBS movie for “AT&T; Presents” was written by Michael Norell and James Norell.

Best adapted long-form film was “Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase, Part I,” written by E. Jack Neuman and based on the autobiography, “The Troops for Truddi Chase.” The ABC film starred Shelley Long.

The “Souvenirs” episode of ABC’s “China Beach,” written by John Sacret Young, was honored in the category of best dramatic series. CBS’ “Murphy Brown” won the prize for comedy series for the episode written by Diane English.

The CBS contemporary drama “Sisters,” written by Shelley List and Jonathan Estrin, won the award for best single-episode program.

Even though the TV writing awards are more plentiful, the evening’s focus veered toward feature films, since the movie industry is gearing up for the 63rd annual presentation of Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at the Shrine Auditorium.

The Guild’s award for “Wolves” comes on top of previous honors this year for the film--including the Directors Guild of America award to Costner for best feature film direction and Golden Globe awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for best dramatic picture, direction and screenplay adaptation.

Because of the track records that the directors award and Golden Globes have for presaging Oscar wins, “Wolves” is expected to walk away with many of the top honors Monday.

“Wolves"--the saga of a disillusioned Civil War-era Cavalry officer whose solitude at a remote wilderness outpost ends when he encounters a band of Sioux Indians--is nominated in 12 Oscar categories, the most for any movie since “Reds” in 1981. Costner is nominated in three categories--for best picture as co-producer, best actor and best director.

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Blake, who said he had struggled as a writer for 25 years, said he believes writers “don’t get enough respect, particularly in the movies. Writers need to come out and be involved. They need to come to the fore and make an impact (on current issues).”

Levinson, who has written and directed such films as “Diner” and the Oscar-winning “Rain Man,” said the “Avalon” story spanned 60 years of his own family’s life. He said he had given the screenplay to his mother to read. She never finished it, giving it to his father instead. What did his father think? “It’s not Academy Award material.”

In other television categories, “Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special,” on ABC, won the award for best variety-musical writing for nearly 50 writers who contributed.

Other Guild Award Winners:

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Daytime Serials--"Santa Barbara,” written by Charles Pratt Jr., Sheri Anderson, Sam Ratcliffe, Maralyn Thoma, Sam Hall, Josh Griffith, Patrick Mulcahey, Robert Guza Jr., Courtney Simon, Lynda Myles, Gary Tomlin, Frank Salisbury, Libby Beers and David J. Ross, NBC.

Children’s Script--"The Perfect Date,” written by Josef Anderson, ABC, and “American Eyes” written by Cynthia A. Cherbak, Elizabeth Hansen and Herb Stein, CBS.

Documentary, Other Than Current Events--"Mr. Sears’ Catalogue” written by Edward Gray and Mark Obenhaus, PBS.

Documentary, Current Events--"Seven Days in Bensonhurst” written by Thomas Lennon and Shelby Steele, WGBH (Boston).

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Television Spot News Script--"Persian Gulf Crisis,” written by Jerry Cipriano, Paul Fischer, John Mosedale, Paul Enger, Hugh Heckman and Thomas Phillips, CBS.

Television Graphic Art--Monika Hofelich, ABC.

Television Graphic Animation--Fourth of July, Anne Cadel, Joanne Dominick, CBS.

On-Air Promotion--CBS Sports promotions written by Joseph DiPietro.

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Radio Spot News--"Saddam Hussein,” written by Bruce Kauffman, CBS.

Radio Documentary--"Poems, Poets & Song,” written by Evalyn Lee, Jill Landes and Pam Rauscher, CBS, and “Waves of the Future: Water and the Environment” written by Richard Stapleton and Christopher Dinan, CBS.

Radio Drama / Comedy--"Produced Comedy,” written by Sarit Catz and Gloria Ketterer, ABC Radio Network.


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