Scripter Press Releases - January 22, 2003

The Hours' Cunningham and Hare Win 15th Annual USC Scripter Award

January 22, 2003

Author Michael Cunningham and screenwriter David Hare are the winners of the 15th USC Scripter Award - the only honor that recognizes both the author and screenwriter of a film adaptation - for their work on Paramount Pictures' and Miramax Films' The Hours.

The Hours chronicles a day in the life of three women in different eras linked by common fears and desires. Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf in 1920s suburban London as she begins writing Mrs. Dalloway; Julianne Moore plays a post-World War II housewife and mother who is reading Mrs. Dalloway and contemplating a major change in her life; and Meryl Streep plays a modern "Mrs. Dalloway," so nicknamed by her former lover, for whom she is throwing a party - paralleling Woolf's heroine in the novel.

Michael Cunningham received both the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Hours. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993, Cunningham also received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1988 and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa in 1982. He published his first novel, A Home at the End of the World, in 1990, followed by Flesh and Blood in 1995.

David Hare began writing in 1975 for the National Theatre in London, which produced his plays Plenty (1978), A Map of the World (1983) and Pravda (1985). His screen credits include 1985's Plenty, starring Meryl Streep and Sting, and Damage (aka Fatale), the 1992 Louis Malle film starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche. Hare has directed many of his own works, as well as those of other playwrights, and has written several teleplays for the BBC. The prolific Hare's most recent plays include Amy's View (1997) and The Judas Kiss (1998). His work has garnered a BAFTA Award (1979), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1983), the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear (1985), the Olivier Award (1990) and the London Theatre Critics' Award (1990).

Winner of this year's Golden Globe for best drama and best actress-drama (Nicole Kidman), The Hours also was named best picture by the National Board of Review. The Seattle Film Critics awarded David Hare kudos for best adapted screenplay. The Hours is directed by Stephen Daldry, who was nominated for an Academy Award® for best director for Billy Elliot in 2001.

Legendary screenwriter Robert Towne (Academy Award® winner for Chinatown) - chair of this year's 56-member selection committee - announced the winners today on behalf of the Friends of the USC Libraries, which sponsors the award.

"I want to congratulate not just Mr. Hare and Mr. Cunningham, but all of the nominees for the intelligence, talent and, indeed, the originality that informed these adaptations," said Towne. "I'd also like to thank the selection committee for its considerable efforts. Having to compare and contrast the source material, the film adaptation and the film itself is a highly demanding process."

The selection committee is comprised of Writers Guild of America members, Academy Award®-winning and -nominated screenwriters, authors, film industry executives, faculty, and selected members of the Friends of the USC Libraries. The committee narrows down the year's eligible films to five nominees and then chooses that year's best film adaptation.

The annual black-tie dinner honoring the winning collaboration will be held on Saturday, March 15 in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus. This year's emcee and presenters will be announced over the next few weeks.

The other nominees for the 15th Scripter® Award were author Louis Begley and screenwriters Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor for About Schmidt; Susan Orlean, whose book The Orchid Thief provided the inspiration for Adaptation, and screenwriters Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman; author J.R.R. Tolkien and screenwriters Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair & Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; and screenwriter Ronald Harwood and the late Wladyslaw Szpilman, on whose life and book, Death of a City, the film The Pianist is based.

The Scripter Award is given annually to honor the best adaptation among English-language films based on books or novellas that were released the previous year. Past Scripter winners include the authors and screenwriters of A Beautiful Mind, Wonder Boys, A Civil Action, L.A. Confidential, The English Patient, Sense and Sensibility, The Shawshank Redemption and Schindler's List.