WGA Honors Steve Zaillian With Laurel Award

LOS ANGELES–Academy Award-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian will receive the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2011 Laurel Award for Screen, honoring lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for motion pictures, to be presented at the 2011 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Saturday, February 5, 2011, in Hollywood.

“Steven Zaillian’s best scripts not only function as intelligent, thought-provoking works that uplift and inspire audiences, but often, as in the case of his screenplays such as Schindler’s List, they act as witness to crucial chapters in our collective history. His impressive body of work provides a benchmark that all screenwriters aspire to,” said WGAW President John Wells.

Zaillian is perhaps best known for his screenplay for the acclaimed Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, based on the novel by Thomas Keneally. In 1994, Zaillian received an Academy Award for his screen adaptation of Schindler’s List, as the film went on to garner multiple awards that year, including Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture. Zaillian’s work on the film also earned him a Writers Guild Award (Best Screenplay, Based on Material Previously Produced or Published), a BAFTA Award (Best Adapted Screenplay), the Humanitas Prize (Feature Film), and PEN Center USA’s Literary Award.

Zaillian’s other screenplays include Awakenings, based on the book by Oliver Sacks, M.D., for which he received both Academy and Writers Guild Award nominations (Best Screenplay, Based on Material from Another Medium), The Falcon and the Snowman, based on the book by Robert Linsday; Jack the Bear, based on the novel by Dan McCall, and American Gangster.

His co-writing screen credits include box-office hits Hannibal (Screenplay by David Mamet and Steven Zaillian, based upon the novel by Thomas Harris), Clear and Present Danger (Screenplay by Donald Stewart and Steven Zaillian and John Milius, based on the novel by Tom Clancy), the Martin Scorsese-directed period drama Gangs of New York (Screenplay by Jay Cocks and Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan, Story by Jay Cocks), for which Zaillian shared both Oscar (Best Writing, Original Screenplay) and WGA nominations (Best Original Screenplay), and The Interpreter (Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Scott Frank and Steven Zaillian, Story by Martin Stellman & Brian Ward).

Not only sought-after as a screenwriter, four-time WGA nominee Zaillian has also carved out a career as an in-demand multi-hyphenate, having written and directed such acclaimed films as Searching for Bobby Fischer and the Writers Guild Award-nominated A Civil Action. Both films, as well as All the King’s Men, earned him Humanitas Prize nominations. In addition, Zaillian has served as executive producer or producer on many of the films he’s written and directed, as well as other films including Welcome to the Rileys. In 2009, Zaillian received the Austin Film Festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award.

Most recently, Zaillian has adapted Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel for the currently filming American remake of global phenomenon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, for which Zaillian is also serving as executive producer.

Born in 1953 and a WGAW member since 1980, screenwriter Zaillian grew up in Los Angeles and attended Sonoma State College, later graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in Communications in 1975.

Awarded to a Writers Guild member who has advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter, the WGAW’s Laurel Award for Screen has been presented in past years to such notable screenwriters such Horton Foote, David Mamet, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Benton, Budd Schulberg, and Barry Levinson.

The 2011 Writers Guild Awards will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011, simultaneously at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel-Grand Ballroom in Los Angeles and the AXA Equitable Center in New York City. For more information about the 2011 Writers Guild Awards, please visit www.wga.org or www.wgaeast.org.


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  1. Zareh said:

    It is great that Americans who have Armenian background, and that much…just background, can achieve great successes in their careers. There are a lot of Americans who have done the same…It’s wonderful and I’m sure they bring lots of joy and pride to their families.

    Why are we talking about them? If the purpose of this publication in Asbarez is to take pride in having “Armenian background” it is quite a narrow and self-defeating practice. If he does not care about his “Armenianness” then who are we to give permission to ourselves to tout this horn?

    To me, remembering quite clearly his Academy Award speech in 1994, Mr. Zaillian is a brilliant screen writer and I’m happy for him. However, If a film, such as Schindler List, with a topic of Genocide does not give this “Armenian” who has penned its screen writing, a moment’s contemplation of the suffering of his own people (which remains unrecognized) and say a few words from a podium that is watched by tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions), then in my opinion he does not care much about his belonging to the Armenian nation. For all intents and purposes he caries an Armenian name, but is not an Armenian.

  2. Michael said:

    Except for his last name – how’s Zalian connected to Armenians? We in vain hoped that he would mention the Armenian G word when accepting his Oscar for Schindler’s List. Was there any attempt to bring him back into the family?

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