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With USC’s Scripter, Argo adds another win to its arsenal

USC President C. L. Max Nikias, USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan and writer Joshuah Bearman (Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Authors Joshuah Bearman and Antonio Mendez and screenwriter Chris Terrio received the 25th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for their contributions to Argo on Feb. 9 at Doheny Memorial Library.

“I think that with adaptation you hope another writer can come and take a look at your work,” Bearman said in his acceptance speech “and see a new perspective and add insight, which is certainly the case with Chris Terrio.”

The win for Argo added to the accolades for the Warner Bros. film, including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for best film. The film, which tells the true story of the 1979 rescue of six U.S. diplomats in Iran, is nominated for seven Academy Awards.

The Scripter Award, established by the Friends of the USC Libraries in 1988, honors the screenwriter or screenwriters of the year’s most accomplished cinematic adaptation, as well as the author of the written work upon which the screenplay is based. It is the only award of its kind that recognizes authors of the original work alongside the adapting screenwriters.

Terrio based his adaptation on Mendez’s autobiographical work, The Master of Disguise (William Morrow, 2000) and Bearman’s article “The Great Escape,” which appeared in Wired magazine in 2007.

USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan welcomed the attendees gathered in the Los Angeles Times Reference Room of Doheny Memorial Library.

“In the context of the library, Scripter at 25 years old is a young tradition,” Quinlan said. “But it is a tradition that helps our libraries collect knowledge that is far older than 25 years and one that will support discoveries by our USC community far beyond the next quarter-century.”

The other finalists for this year’s Scripter, in alphabetical order by film title, were Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Silver Linings Playbook.

Previous Scripter winners include the screenwriters and authors of The DescendantsThe Social Network and Schindler’s List.

Co-chaired by Golden Globe-winning screenwriter Naomi Foner and USC screenwriting professor and vice president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Howard Rodman, the Scripter selection committee chose Argo from a field of 84 eligible films. A tie in the first round of voting resulted in six finalist films this year, rather than the usual five.

The 41-member selection committee included film critics Leonard Maltin and Kenneth Turan; screenwriters Geoffrey Fletcher, Eric Roth and Robin Swicord; authors Michael Chabon and Mona Simpson; and USC deans Quinlan, Elizabeth M. Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Madeline Puzo of the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

The USC Libraries also honored Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana with the Literary Achievement Award for their body of work to date. USC President C. L. Max Nikias presented the honor.

“With deep reserves of imagination and intellect, Mr. McMurtry and Ms. Ossana inspire USC’s entire creative arts community,” Nikias said. “And for this, we warmly salute them.”

Over the course of their writing partnership, McMurtry and Ossana have collaborated on dozens of novels and screenplays, including Brokeback Mountain, which won the 2005 Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, as well as the award-winning miniseries Streets of Laredo. The writers are currently collaborating on the screen adaptation of Paulette Jiles’s novel The Color of Lightning.

This year’s event featured a silent auction, the proceeds of which support the USC Libraries’ collections. Donors to the auction included Bennett Farms, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Hawaii Five-0 and Eye Productions, Hungry Cat Santa Monica, LA Saddlery, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Namale Resort & Spa in Fiji, Paperblanks, the PGA Tour, Picca Peruvian Cantina, the National Football League, Pizzeria Mozza, Pleasant Holidays, South Coast Winery, the Sundance Institute, Terranea Resort, Robbins Research International, Montage Beverly Hills, the Wine of the Month Club and the USC Thornton School of Music.

In-kind sponsors this year included John and Dana Agamalian and Blue Ice Vodka, Esquire Bar & Lounge of Pasadena, Calif., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Paperblanks, Penguin Books and the Wine of the Month Club.

For more information about the Scripter Award, visit


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With USC’s Scripter, Argo adds another win to its arsenal

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