RSVP : Celebrating the Power of the Pen


Frank Darabont, screenwriter and director of "The Shawshank Redemption," held aloft the Tiffany-designed crystal Scripter Award. "Just like the dessert--it's in the shape of a book. That's so cool," said the winner of the award, presented by Friends of the University of Southern California Libraries.

Gathered Saturday night at USC's Doheny Memorial Library, guests dined on warm scallop salad, rosemary herb crusted rack of lamb and a chocolate book, the cover stamped with the image of the escaped prisoner washed clean by a storm from the Oscar-nominated movie.

Beside each place setting was a paperback copy of "Different Seasons" by Stephen King, which includes the novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" from which the film is adapted. The Scripter Award--this was the seventh annual--honors an author and screenwriter for the best realization of a book as a film. This prisoner drama, much of it set in a prison library, won out over 33 other eligible films as the choice of the selection committee chaired by Marjorie Lord Volk.

Although the evening's emcee, Hal Kanter, referred to college libraries as "a safe nook to hide out in between high school and a hasty marriage,"most present spoke of libraries with more reverence.

"My husband got his education in a public library" said Kathy L'Amour, of the late author Louis L'Amour.

Indeed L'Amour was also honored by the evening. His Western novels are mentioned in the book and film script. "It's true that Louis' books are very popular in prison," Kathy L'Amour said. "One of them would trade for four or five of anything else and he used to get lots of mail from prisoners."

"Shawshank" cast members present included Gil Bellows, Brian Libby, Joseph Ragnol and Bob Gunton, who played the villainous warden. Gunton presented the author award, accepted by "The Stand" director Mick Garris on behalf of the prolific King, who, he said, was "working at home in Maine."

Darabont accepted his award from "Mask" director Chuck Russell and thanked the audience--which included Patricia Doheny and family, event chairwoman Sue Femino, honorary chairwoman Virginia Ramo and Friends president Elaine Leventhal--for recognizing the value of writers.

"What's the difference between the Scripter Award and Entertainment Weekly? One recognizes the value of the writer, the other doesn't," Darabont said, brandishing a copy of the show-biz magazine's "Complete Viewers Guide" to the Academy Awards that overlooks screenwriters in its feature stories about "all the top nominees."

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