More than 300 guests, gentleman in black-tie and ladies in cocktail attire, gathered Feb. 10 at the Doheny Memorial Library on the University of Southern California campus for the 30th annual Scripter Award ceremony.
The Scripter Award recognizes the year’s best cinematic adaptation of the written word, and includes feature film and television adaptations.
Guests first gathered in the marble-clad hall, with its soaring arches, for passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before being seated for the award ceremony and dinner served in the Los Angeles Times reference reading room, which has magnificent ceilings.
In a surprise appearance, the USC Marching Band, under the direction of Art Bartner, led the guests into the dining room. Yes, the sound of a marching band is always exciting to me, but to hear the band in the marble lined walls of the library was absolutely spectacular!
The band circled the reading room and then stood on the stage for a short concert while guests found their seats.The elegantly dressed dining tables were centered with glorious floral arrangements.
Catherine Quinlan, dean of USC Libraries, stepped to the podium to welcome those assembled. Later, she stopped by each table to have more intimate chats with guests.
Quinlan, who chooses her wardrobe carefully, looked beautiful in a designer gown that was accessorized elegantly.
In her welcoming remarks, Quinlan paid tribute to the legacy of the annual award. “Scripter is celebrating its 30th birthday, and whether it’s your first Scripter or your 30th, I’m grateful to everyone who has supported this fine, enduring Trojan tradition.”
Michael Quick, USC provost, also spoke about the importance of the library. “More than places where students have a space to learn and faculty have collections from which to launch their scholarship, libraries are the core for what we stand for in higher education,” he said.
In the television category, the selection committee chose “Offred,” the first episode of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for the award. Written for the screen by creator and executive producer Bruce Miller, the series, streaming on Hulu, is based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood.
In his acceptance speech, Miller acknowledged Doheny Library, which hosted the ceremony. “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’” has been very wonderfully and generously feted over the last few months, but there’s something about getting an award in a library that is particularly wonderful,” Miller said.
Other finalists were the writers behind episodes of “Alias Grace” (distributed by Netflix), “Big Little Lies” (HBO), “Genius” (National Geographic), “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO) and “Mindhunter” (Netflix).
In the film category, the winners were writer Andre Aciman, author of “Call Me by Your Name,” and screenwriter-director James Ivory, who adapted Aciman’s work for the screen.
Ivory, a USC alumnus, noted that he had been to Doheny Library before, “I left this building exactly 60 years ago when I graduated from the USC film school and they had the ceremony out in front of the library, and I haven’t been back since — not to this building. It’s amazing to come back. I’m glad to be back for an adaptation of a very good book. As you know, I’ve made my career and name through adaptations.”
The other finalist films were “The Disaster Artist,” “Logan,” “The Lost City of Z” and “Wonder Woman.”
Earlier in the evening, Quinlan honored USC trustees and longtime USC Libraries supporter Ronald and Valerie Sugar as the 2016 Ex Libris Award winners.
Francis Ford Coppola, legendary writer-director-producer, received the 2018 Literary Achievement Award. Coppola noted that his films based on earlier written works gave possessive credit to the original author. The 1972 classic “The Godfather,” for example, which Coppola directed and adapted for the screen, was marketed as “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather” — not as “Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.”
“Anyone who adapts screenplays,” Coppola said, “knows the author did the heavy lifting.”