Acclaimed screenwriter-director Adam McKay (The Big Short) is set to receive the Writers Guild of America West’s 2019 Paul Selvin Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in writing for his audacious and subversively comedic film Vice, an unconventional, behind-the-scenes look at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s stealthy rise from Congressional intern to the most powerful man on the planet.
The WGAW’s special award is given for a script which “best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.” McKay will be honored at the WGAW’s 2019 Writers Guild Awards L.A. show on Sunday, February 17.
“Vice is that unique accomplishment of an exhaustively researched screenplay that wrestles with serious, complex questions of freedom and democracy, but never loses sight of the humanity (or lack thereof) of its characters. It is an inspiring piece of work, and the Paul Selvin Committee and the WGAW Board of Directors are thrilled to give Adam McKay this award,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman.
“I am thrilled to receive this tremendous honor on behalf of our film, Vice. Paul Selvin dedicated his life to shining a light on how essential constitutional rights and a free speech are to democratic societies. I hope we lived up to his spirit by making a film that depicts how misinformation, unchecked power and the erosion of civil liberties can lead to devastating and deadly consequences,” remarked Selvin Award honoree McKay.
Earning a 2019 WGA Original Screenplay nomination, McKay’s script covers half a century, challenging audiences as it mixes genres, breaks the fourth wall, includes a mock ending, and features a rogue’s gallery of acutely observed political figures who have regularly appeared in our nation’s collective news feed over the years: Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carrell), Colin Powell (Tyler Perry), Condoleezza Rice (LisaGay Hamilton), Scooter Libby (Justin Kirk), and more.
An Annapurna Pictures release, Vice has garnered multiple accolades so far this awards season, including earning eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay for McKay. The film also received six Golden Globes nominations, including Best Screenplay and Director for McKay, and Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), and earned a Golden Globe for Christian Bale, as well as two Critics’ Choices Awards for his lead performance (Best Actor and Best Actor in a Comedy), among the film’s nine BFCA noms; six BAFTA nominations (including Best Original Screenplay for McKay); a DGA nom for McKay (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures); and a PGA nom (Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures).
Writers Guild Awards and Oscar-winning screenwriter-director-producer McKay first made his name in the comedy world as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. In 1995, McKay and actor Will Ferrell started on the same day at NBC’s hit late-night comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live, where McKay served as a writer on the show for six years, ultimately rising to Head Writer. During his time on SNL, McKay won a 2010 Writers Guild Award for Comedy/Variety Series, as well as earned two WGA noms for the series in 2001 and 2002, in addition to an Emmy nom (2001, Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program).
McKay and Ferrell’s time at SNL led to successful collaborations that established their unique style, starting with the modern comedy classic Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004, Written by Ferrell & McKay) followed by the hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006, Written by Ferrell & McKay), both directed by McKay. Since forming the Gary Sanchez production company in 2006, McKay has continued to deliver a string of hit movies he has written (often with Ferrell) and directed, including Step Brothers (2008, Screenplay by Ferrell & McKay, Story by Ferrell & McKay & John C. Reilly), The Other Guys (2010, Written by McKay & Chris Henchy) and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013, Written by Ferrell & McKay). He has also produced numerous comedies, including The Campaign (2012, which he shared story credit on), Get Hard (2015, for which he shared story credit), Daddy’s Home (2015) and Daddy’s Home 2 (2017), as well as indie films such as Welcome to Me (2015).
In 2015, McKay and Charles Randolph adapted Michael Lewis’s New York Times best-selling book, The Big Short, to create a smart, dense satire which dissected the financial crisis of 2007-2008. McKay and Randolph won Academy, Writers Guild, BAFTA, and USC Scripter Awards for their adapted screenplay, and the acclaimed film received Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture. McKay also earned Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations for Best Director, and the picture earned a 2016 Producers Guild Award for Best Picture.
McKay’s additional screenwriting credits include co-writing 2015’s box-office superhero hit Ant-Man (Screenplay by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd, Story by Wright & Cornish). In 2017, McKay executive produced and directed the pilot for HBO’s Succession, and served as executive producer on the Hulu series I Love You, America.
Writing for television, McKay has earned three consecutive Emmy noms for his work on Drunk History (Outstanding Variety Sketch Series) in 2015, 2016, and 2017, as well as a 2009 Emmy nom for his work on You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special).
His upcoming feature film projects include Bad Blood, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the controversial blood-test company Theranos, as well as Irredeemable, a Boom! Comics comic book adaptation.
Named after the late Paul Selvin, general counsel to the Guild for 25 years, the WGAW’s special achievement award is given each year to a WGA member(s) whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to which Selvin devoted his professional life. Previous Selvin recipients include Tony Kushner, Margaret Nagle, Dustin Lance Black, Eric Roth, Alex Gibney, Tate Taylor, John McNamara, Susannah Grant, and most recently Liz Hannah and Josh Singer.