TV, Film Writers Named as Finalists for Humanitas Prizes : Awards: Steven Zaillian earns nominations for ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer,’ ‘Schindler’s List’ in the new feature category.

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Episodes of “Picket Fences,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law & Order” were among the finalists announced Thursday for the annual Humanitas Prizes, given to writers whose screen work “enriches and enlightens” audiences.

The cash awards, given by the Pacific Palisades-based Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute, in the past have been given only to TV writers, but they are expanding this year to include feature films.

Steven Zaillian nabbed two of the nominations in the new feature film category, for his screenplays of “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and “Schindler’s List.” Other nominees are William Nicholson for “Shadowlands” and Terry George and Jim Sheridan for “In the Name of the Father.”


The winners will be announced at a luncheon July 14.

The other finalists, as selected by judges from nearly 400 submissions:

* 60-minute prime-time program: David E. Kelly, “Picket Fences (Abominable Snowmen),” CBS; Burton Armus, David Milch, “NYPD Blue (Personal Foul),” ABC; Michael S. Chernuchin, William N. Fordes, “Law & Order (Sanctuary),” NBC.

* 30-minute prime-time program: Jane Wagner, “Edith Ann (A Few Pieces of the Puzzle),” ABC; Don Reo, Judith D. Allison, “The John Larroquette Show (Amends),” NBC; Rob Bragin, “Murphy Brown (Reaper Madness),” CBS; David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee, “Frasier (The Good Son),” NBC.

* 2-hour prime-time program: Bob Randall, “David’s Mother,” CBS; Barbara Turner, “Out of Darkness,” ABC; Bobby Smith Jr., “There Are No Children Here,” ABC.

* PBS/Cable: Arnold Schulman, “And the Band Played On,” HBO; Susan Black, Lance Gentile, “State of Emergency,” HBO; Dena Kleiman, “Strapped,” HBO.

* Children’s live action program: Susan Rohrer, “CBS Schoolbreak Special: If I Die Before I Wake,” CBS; Joseph Maurer, “CBS Schoolbreak Special: Love in the Dark Ages,” CBS; Marilyn Weber, Regge Bulman, “ABC Afterschool Special: Montana Crossroads,” ABC.

* Children’s animated program: James Howard Kunstler, “American Heroes and Legends: Johnny Appleseed,” Showtime; Martha Moran, “Madeline (Madeline and the 40 Thieves),” Family Channel; Bruce Shelly, Reed Shelly, “Madeline (Madeline and the Missing Clown,” Family Channel.