July 19, 2019

Tribe Members Take Home Writers Guild Awards

Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz. Photo by Armando Koghan

Members of the Tribe were out in full force at the Writers Guild of America West Awards on Feb. 17 at the Beverly Hilton. Nominees, winners and presenters included Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Sarah Silverman (“I Love You, America”), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”), Alec Berg (“Barry”), Nathan Fielder (“Nathan for You”) and Nicole Holofcener (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”). 

Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (“Parenthood,” “Splash”) received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement. It was presented to them by Ron Howard, who made his directorial debut in 1982 with “Night Shift.” That script was written by Ganz and Mandel. 

Speaking with the Journal after the ceremony, Ganz and Mandel offered advice for those hoping to break into the industry. “I’m not one of those people who says, ‘Oh, college, they don’t teach you anything.’ They teach you plenty,” Ganz said. “But nothing teaches you like being around where people are trying to get the work done. That’s where you really learn. So any way you can be around an actual production, that’s what you should do.”

“We were both raised in an environment where it was all about family,” Mandel added. “We were raised by funny people. They all had a great sense of humor, but it was all about love. I had parents [who said], ‘Whatever you want. You have a dream, we’re here.’ We turned [that support] back to our kids, our grandkids.”

Jenji Kohan (“Weeds,” “Orange Is the New Black”) won the Paddy Chayefsky Award for Television Writing Achievement. Kohan couldn’t attend the awards but sent her thanks via video. 

“If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s stop thinking of writing as art; think of it as work.” — Jenji Kohan

“When I was in college, I was on a Quiz Bowl team with people who were much smarter than I,” she said. “Then a question came up that none of the brainiacs could answer: ‘Which illustrious American screenwriter won Academy Awards for the films “Marty,” “The Hospital” and “Network”’? I rang my buzzer and shouted, ‘Paddy Chayefsky,’ because I was a child of Hollywood and I was the pop culture ringer. And we won.”

She added, “Paddy Chayefsky is also responsible for one of my favorite quotes: ‘Artists don’t talk about art, they talk about work.’ If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s stop thinking of writing as art; think of it as work.” 

The concise — and most Jewy — speech of the night came from Jen Kirkman and Sheila Lawrence, who represented the writers of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” in Los Angeles when it received the award for comedy series writing. 

Taking to the stage, the duo exchanged the following acceptance speech:

Kirkman: “Kugel.” 

Lawrence: “Knish.” 

Kirkman: “Brisket.”

Lawrence: “Thank you.”

Other Jewish writers on the show are Kate Fodor, Noah Gardenswartz, Daniel Goldfarb and show creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino.  

Here is a list of some of the night’s winners. (MOTs in bold):

Adapted Screenplay: “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty. Based on the book by Lee Israel.

Drama Series: “The Americans,” written by Peter Ackerman, Hilary Bettis, Joshua Brand, Joel Fields, Sarah Nolen, Stephen Schiff, Justin Weinberger, Joe Weisberg and Tracey Scott Wilson.

New Series: “Barry,” written by Alec Berg, Duffy Boudreau, Bill Hader, Emily Heller, Liz Sarnoff, Ben Smith and Sarah Solemani.

Episodic Comedy: “Chapter One: ‘Make Your Mark’ ” (“Barry”), written by Alec Berg and Bill Hader.