| “I guess the WGA thought it would be fun for the children’s category to be presented|
by a foul-mouthed puppet—but unfortunately, Sean Spicer wasn’t available.” - Triumph
But this year's Writers' Guild East Awards (a parallel ceremony was being staged live in LA simultaneously) - because of a perfect storm of host, presenters, political situation, nominees, victors, and honorees -- was remarkably rewarding and entertaining for me. Not just as a member, or as a TV viewer, but as a former journalist And it ended with a hilarious near-tragedy-turned comedy, involving Triumph the Comic Insult Dog's missing trophy.
|Cobb (right) applauds Bernstein (center)|
I had the happy task of ushering New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, who produced the Frontline documentary Policing the Police and was being given the first Walter Bernstein Award, for writers "who have demonstrated with creativity, grace and bravery a willingness to confront social injustice in the face of adversity." The award is named after the Blacklisted screenwriter hero - who is still sharp at age 97 and was sitting at the table with Cobb (left) - a living testament to standing up to governmental malfeasance.
From the get-go, the proceedings had a special charge to them. It's hard to explain how much harder the East Coast community of writers has to work to succeed in showbiz, which prefers everyone to be under its eye and thumb in L.A. -- and have stuck to their creative guns while doing so. Among those in the room: Simon, Waters, Tina Fey, Kenneth Lonergan, Jill Kargman, John Patrick Shanley, Americans showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, the staffs of John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Colbert, as well as unionized broadcast news journalists like our President, longtime Bill Moyers writer Michael Winship.
The intro to Lewis Black - another inveterate New Yorker who I first encountered when he was staging plays by aspiring playwrights like Aaron Sorkin downstairs at the West Bank Cafe in the 80's - correctly stated, "He was the voice of Anger in Inside Out, and was also the voice of anger in literally everything he's ever done."
He spoke of watching Trump's recent press conference while trying to write his monologue, "and I was forced to realize yet again that we are living at the intersection of satire and reality."