By Ray Pride

USC Libraries Scripter 2017 honors “Moonlight,” “The Night Manager,” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson”

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11, 2017 – The authors and screenwriters behind the film “Moonlight,” and the television series “The Night Manager” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” received the 29th-annual USC Libraries Scripter Award in a Feb. 11 ceremony at USC’s Doheny Memorial Library.

The Scripter Award recognizes the year’s best cinematic adaptation of the written word, and includes feature film and television adaptations.

In her welcoming remarks, USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan described the genesis of Scripter, founded by the libraries’ board of councilors in order to “celebrate the art of transforming the written word into visual stories” and to honor “the work of artists who find inspiration in the stories that surround us in a great library like ours.”

USC Provost Michael Quick spoke of the key role libraries play in the academic life of the university, “They are the core of what we stand for in higher education. The unfettered search for truth, the accumulation over time of the knowledge that allows us to progress as humans, our launching point for future leaders. The libraries represent the absolute best of what it means to be human, of what it means to revere the truth, of what it means to make a difference in the world.”

In the television category, the selection committee deadlocked in voting between “The Night Manager,” adapted by David Farr into a six-part miniseries for AMC, based on the 1993 novel by John le Carré, and FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” adapted by USC School of Cinematic Arts alums Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski from the nonfiction book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” by Jeffrey Toobin.

In accepting the award, Larry Karaszewski said “libraries saved my life, they were literally a sanctuary for me.”

Accepting on behalf of “The Night Manager” was executive producer, and son of author John le Carré, Stephen Cornwell, who spoke of his father and his story, “Nothing would have existed without his mind and his imagination. The Night Manager is a character and a story of strange brilliance, a morality tale wrapped in a thriller.”

The other finalists were the writers behind episodes of “Game of Thrones” (distributed by HBO), “The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon), and “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix).

In the film category, the winners were playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, author of “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” and screenwriter-director Barry Jenkins, who adapted McCraney’s work into the screenplay for A24s’ “Moonlight.”

Accepting the award via video from the U.K. on behalf of himself and McCraney, Jenkins said that he’s often described the experience of first reading McCraney’s original piece as it being “halfway between the stage and the screen. I love that this award is for the adaptation because I feel like blending Tarell’s voice with mine . . . has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

The other finalist films were “Arrival” (distributed by Paramount Pictures), “Fences” (Paramount Pictures), “Hidden Figures” (Twentieth Century Fox), and “Lion” (The Weinstein Company).

Earlier in the evening, Quinlan honored USC trustee and longtime USC Libraries supporter Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan as the 2017 Ex Libris Award winner. In receiving the award, Kostlan said, “Above all, I wish to remember my wonderful parents, Tom and Dorothy Leavey. In addition to passing down their philanthropic spirit, they instilled in my sister and myself a passion for learning and respect for the printed word.”

Comedic writer-director Carl Reiner received the 2017 Literary Achievement Award and accepted the honor via video. Reiner joked that the award is one of two similarly exciting honors, the other being his donation of a toupee to the Smithsonian.

In presenting the award to Reiner, Quinlan described the privilege of “honoring a single person who has contributed so immeasurably to our shared culture.”

In-kind donors to the event included A24 Films, Bogart’s Spirits, Bridget Gless Keller and Paul Keller, Catalina View Wines, Christina Kenney Sarno & Russ Sarno, Hartley & Marks, James and Martha Childs, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Merle Norman, ONE Archives Foundation, OPI Products, Paramount Studios, Penguin Random House and Urth Caffé.

Scripter began in 1988, co-founded by USC Libraries board members Glenn Sonnenberg and Marjorie Lord. For more information about Scripter—including additional images from the ceremony—visit

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

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~ David Simon