Humanitas prizes awarded

From a Times staff writer

“Freedom Writers” writer-director Richard LaGravenese tied with “Venus” writer Hanif Kureishi for the $25,000 feature film Humanitas prize, one of 12 announced at a lunch on Tuesday. “MASH” writer Larry Gelbart was honored with the Kieser Award for telling the truth about war with his legendary series.

The Humanitas Prizes honor TV shows and movies that “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.”

LaGravenese’s “Freedom Writers” screenplay for the Hilary Swank film, about a Long Beach teacher who inspires troubled students to write, was cited for its belief that one person can change lives.


Kureishi’s “Venus,” a drama starring Peter O’Toole, was cited “for its insistence on human dignity and emotional honesty” when faced with aging.

Other winners include writer Peter Morgan for “Longford,” the HBO film based on the life of a British lord, Frank Pakenham, and his friendship with child killer Myra Hindley; R. Scott Gemmill and David Zabel for the “There Are No Angels Here” episode of NBC’s “ER”; and Jennifer Crittenden for the “Oh God, Yes” episode of CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

Sindy McKay, Dennis Haley and Marcy Brown won for work on the PBS children’s animated series “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks.” Anna Sandor won for the Disney Channel’s teleplay “Molly: An American Girl on the Homefront.”

Salvatore Stabile won for his Sundance feature film “Where God Left His Shoes.” And USC student Jonny Mais won the David and Lynn Angell Fellowship in Comedy Writing.