Unstoppable awards juggernaut “Argo” won yet another award Saturday night as New York screenwriter Chris Terrio, Wired journalist Joshuah Bearman (“The Great Escape”) and ex-CIA analyst Tony Mendez (“The Master of Disguise”) won USC’s 25th annual Scripter Award. The Scripters go to adapted scripts as well as the original writers. It may have been just as well that the expected Scripter winners, “Team of Rivals” author Doris Kearns Goodwin and “Lincoln” screenwriter Tony Kushner, were snowed in on the East Coast.
“We’re an anxious breed,” said Bearman as he accepted for the BAFTA-bound Terrio and Mendez. Adaptations are scary, he added. But in this case producer David Klawans, who encouraged him to write the Tony Mendez story after it became declassified in 1997, saying it would make a great movie, and Smokehouse’s Grant Heslov and George Clooney, who optioned the material adapted by Terrio, and finally director Ben Affleck delivered a movie he could be proud of, Bearman said.
The question is whether this award, which is voted on by 41 critics, screenwriters and film professionals (including me), suggests that the movie is heading toward another upset over “Lincoln” at the Writers Guild next week –not to mention the adapted screenplay Oscar. “Argo” was one of six Scripter nominees including “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Every year the USC libraries mount the elegant fundraiser dinner at the book-lined Doheny Library. The dinner looks like “Hogwarts on steroids,” said USC Libraries board president Glenn Sonnenberg.
The other winners Saturday, accepting the USC Scripter Literary Achievement Award, were writing partners Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Films garnered from McMurtry’s writing (“Hud,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Terms of Endearment,” “Brokeback Mountain”) have won 13 Oscars over the years.
Variety broke the news at 7 am that “Argo” had won the Scripter, breaking the embargo, and then removed the link, posting again at 10:45 PM. Other media showed up to cover the awards live.
“Bureaucracies and organizations make it hard to do the right thing sometimes,” Terrio told THR. “So ultimately I hope that this movie is kind of about somebody trying to do the right thing amidst a lot of reasons not to.”