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Scripter Award honors Moonlight, The Night Manager and The People v. O.J. Simpson

The USC Libraries prize recognizes the authors of printed works alongside the writers who adapt their stories

group photo of winner of Scripter award
People v. O.J. Simpson screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan, The Night Manager Executive Producer Stephen Cornwell, Scripter Selection Committee Chair Howard Rodman, and USC Provost Michael Quick (Photo/Sarah Golonka)

The authors and screenwriters of the film Moonlight and the television series The Night Manager and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story received the 29th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award on Saturday at USC’s Doheny Memorial Library.

The Scripter Award recognizes last year’s best adaptation of printed works in film and television.

In the film category, the winners were playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, author of In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, and screenwriter-director Barry Jenkins, who adapted McCraney’s work into the screenplay for A24’s Moonlight.

Accepting the award via video from the United Kingdom on behalf of himself and McCraney, Jenkins said that he’s often described the experience of first reading McCraney’s original piece as it being “halfway between the stage and the screen. I love that this award is for the adaptation because I feel like blending Tarell’s voice with mine . . . has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

The other finalist films were Arrival (distributed by Paramount Pictures), Fences (Paramount Pictures), Hidden Figures (Twentieth Century Fox) and Lion (The Weinstein Co).

A tie in television

In the television category, the selection committee deadlocked in voting between The Night Manager, adapted by David Farr into a six-part miniseries for AMC, based on the 1993 novel by John le Carré, and FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, adapted by USC School of Cinematic Arts alums Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski from the nonfiction book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin.

In accepting the award, Karaszewski said “libraries saved my life, they were literally a sanctuary for me.”

Accepting on behalf of The Night Manager was executive producer and son of author John le Carré, Stephen Cornwell, who spoke of his father and his story, “Nothing would have existed without his mind and his imagination. The Night Manager is a character and a story of strange brilliance, a morality tale wrapped in a thriller.”

The other finalists were the writers behind episodes of Game of Thrones (distributed by HBO), The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) and Orange is the New Black (Netflix).

The origin of the Scripter

In her welcoming remarks, USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan described the genesis of Scripter, founded by the libraries’ board of councilors in order to “celebrate the art of transforming the written word into visual stories” and to honor “the work of artists who find inspiration in the stories that surround us in a great library like ours.”

USC Provost Michael Quick spoke of the key role libraries play in the academic life of the university.

The libraries represent the absolute best of what it means to be human, of what it means to revere the truth, of what it means to make a difference in the world.

Michael Quick

“They are the core of what we stand for in higher education. The unfettered search for truth, the accumulation over time of the knowledge that allows us to progress as humans, our launching point for future leaders,” he said. “The libraries represent the absolute best of what it means to be human, of what it means to revere the truth, of what it means to make a difference in the world.”

Earlier in the evening, Quinlan honored USC Trustee and longtime USC Libraries supporter Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan as the 2017 Ex Libris Award winner. In receiving the award, Kostlan said, “Above all, I wish to remember my wonderful parents, Tom and Dorothy Leavey. In addition to passing down their philanthropic spirit, they instilled in my sister and myself a passion for learning and respect for the printed word.”

Writer-director Carl Reiner received the 2017 Literary Achievement Award and accepted the honor via video. Reiner joked that the award is one of two similarly exciting honors, the other being his donation of a toupee to the Smithsonian.

In presenting the award to Reiner, Quinlan described the privilege of “honoring a single person who has contributed so immeasurably to our shared culture.”

Scripter began in 1988, co-founded by USC Libraries board members Glenn Sonnenberg and Marjorie Lord.

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Scripter Award honors Moonlight, The Night Manager and The People v. O.J. Simpson

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