Iconic screenwriter-director-producer James L. Brooks, whose acclaimed films include Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, and As Good As It Gets, has been named the recipient of the Writers Guild of America West’s 2018 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement in recognition of his extraordinary career and body of work. He will be honored at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Sunday, February 11, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.
“James L. Brooks looms large for writers in our business. His movie scripts walk a razor’s edge; they are comedies that are tinged with tragedy, they have moments of absurdity mixed with sharply observed truths. The beauty of his work is that you never hear the writer behind it, his characters talk like real people and his scripts feel like life. We at the WGAW Board of Directors consider it our honor to give him this award,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman.
One of the most revered and influential creative artists in film and television, Brooks is a three-time Academy Award winner, an 18-time Emmy Award winner, and four-time Writers Guild Award winner.
Brooks launched his TV writing career during the mid-’60s, landing a gig writing for CBS News broadcasts based in New York, before moving to Los Angeles to pen several episodes of The Wolper Specials documentary series. He then segued into scripted programming, writing for numerous TV series, including Men in Crisis, My Mother the Car, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, and That Girl, which earned him his first WGA Episodic Comedy nomination in 1968.
A WGAW member since 1965, Brooks soon emerged as a major force in television, going on to create or co-create, write, and produce numerous hit television series that helped define an era, including the ground-breaking The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77, Created by Brooks and Allan Burns) – one of the first primetime TV series to feature an independent working woman at its center – and its trio of hit spin-offs, Rhoda (1974-78, Created by Brooks & Allan Burns, Developed by David Davis & Lorenzo Music), Lou Grant (1977-82, Created by Brooks and Allan Burns and Gene Reynolds, Developed by Leon Tokatyan), and Phyllis (1975-77, Created by Ed Weinberger & Stan Daniels) – as well as Taxi (1978-83, Created by Brooks and Stan Daniels and David Davis and Ed Weinberger).
After an extensive and prolific career in television during the ’60s and ’70s, Brooks made the transition to the big screen at the close of the decade, penning the screenplay for 1979’s Starting Over, based on the novel by Dan Wakefield, which he co-produced with Alan J. Pakula, which earned Brooks a WGA screenplay nomination (Comedy Adapted from Another Medium).
He went on to write, direct, and produce the acclaimed 1983 dramedy classic, Terms of Endearment, adapted from the novel by Larry McMurtry. The film, which garnered eleven Oscar nominations, earned Brooks three Academy Awards, including Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium), Best Director, and a Best Picture Oscar, as well as a Writers Guild Award for his screenplay (Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium) and a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. Terms co-stars Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine also earned Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars for their performances.
Next, he wrote, directed, and produced 1987’s Broadcast News, a sharp, incisive behind-the-scenes glimpse of a network TV news room based on his own experiences, which won the New York Dramas Critics Award for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, received Oscar noms for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and earned WGA and Golden Globe screenplay noms.
Through his own Gracie Films production banner, established in 1984, Brooks executive produced the feature film Say Anything…, which was Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut, produced The War of the Roses (screenplay by Michael Leeson) and produced Big with Robert Greenhut, which was Anne Spielberg & Gary Ross’ first screenplay.
Brooks made a leap to the stage, writing, directing, and producing his debut play, “Brooklyn Laundry,” which premiered in Los Angeles in 1990. That same year, Brooks’ production company, Gracie Films, inked an overall deal with Sony Pictures. He produced two new series for ABC – primetime animated series The Critic and Phenom – as well as directed the innovative musical dramedy feature film, I’ll Do Anything. In 1996, Brooks executive produced, Bottle Rocket, the debut film co-written and directed by Wes Anderson, and produced Jerry Maguire, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, sharing a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
In 1997, Brooks co-wrote, produced, and directed the box-office smash, As Good As It Gets (Screenplay by Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks, Story by Mark Andrus). The well-received film received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), as well as Best Actor and Best Actress wins for co-stars Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. Brooks also earned a Writers Guild Award (Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), shared with co-screenwriter Andrus.
Following up the critical and commercial success of As Good As It Gets, Brooks wrote and directed the 2004 dramedy Spanglish, and in 2007 Brooks co-wrote and produced The Simpsons Movie, the big-screen version of Fox’s hit animated series, the longest-running scripted series on television to date. In 2010, Brooks wrote and directed the romantic comedy How Do You Know, and most recently produced the 2016’s Edge of Seventeen, written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, making her directorial debut.
Brooks’ other TV writing credits include creating the trail-blazing high school drama Room 222, which aired from 1969-1974 and was notable as one of the first TV series to feature a black male in a lead role, as well as co-creating The Tracy Ullman Show (Created by Brooks, Jerry Belson, Ken Estrin, Heide Perlman), a boundary-pushing comedy-variety series which ran from 1987-1990 and debuted The Simpsons characters in a series of inspired animated shorts, which ultimately led to the launch of The Simpsons animated TV series (Created by Matt Groening, Developed by Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon) that would leave an indelible mark on pop culture, and the telefilm, Thursday’s Game, which he wrote and produced. Brooks was also part of the writing team for TV’s Stand Up to Cancer telethons in 2008 and 2010, which raised millions to combat cancer.
In addition to his acclaimed film career, Brooks has received numerous accolades for his work on television: In addition to multiple Emmy noms for his work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, including noms Outstanding New Series and Outstanding Comedy Series for its debut season, and WGA Episodic Comedy noms for MTM in 1973 and 1978, Brooks earned an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy (shared with Allan Burns) in 1971, a trio of shared Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1975, 1976, and 1977, as well as a ’77 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the series’ memorable final episode, “The Last Show” (shared with co-writers Burns, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, and Bob Ellison). In addition, MTM spin-off shows – from sitcom (Rhoda) to drama (Lou Grant) – earned Brooks Emmy noms for Outstanding Drama Series (Lou Grant, 1978) and Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (Rhoda, 1975).
Brooks followed his MTM run by garnering three Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys for the critically acclaimed comedy series Taxi in 1979, 1980, and 1981. In addition to multiple Emmy noms, Brooks shared an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program for The Tracey Ullman Show in 1989, as well as an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program in 1990. As a co-developer and executive producer of Fox’s The Simpsons, Brooks has received numerous Emmy noms over the show’s decades-long run and earned ten shared Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program between 1990 and 2008.
In 1998, Brooks received the WGAW’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement, the Guild’s highest honor for television writing, shared with his frequent TV writing partner Allan Burns. In 2006, Brooks received the WGAE’s Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence, given to a writer who “embodies the spirit, commitment, and comic genius” of the late Sargent.
In 2007, he received the Gold Derby TV Award for lifetime achievement, in 2015 he received TCA’s Career Achievement Award, and in 2017 received the PGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Television for his prolific career.
Next up, Brooks is in the home stretch to finish his latest screenplay.
The WGAW’s Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement is awarded to a Writers Guild member who has advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter. Past recipients include Elaine May, Oliver Stone, Harold Ramis, David Mamet, Robert Towne, Tom Stoppard, Paul Mazursky, Lawrence Kasdan, Eric Roth, and Steven Zaillian.
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!