The Writers Guild of America represents writers in the writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable and "new technologies" industries. "New technologies" encompasses "CD-ROMs, Internet videos, original creative sites, digital animation (including Flash and Shockwave animated presentations) and other innovations." I think they added this category back when people thought interactive CD-ROMs and episodic web sites (remember The Spot?) were thought to be the next big thing. I wonder how many "new technologies" Guild members there are? The WGA website doesn't answer that question, but since they don't give awards for new technologies writing, my guess is, not many.
They do give awards for television and film writing though. The nominees for the adapted screenplay award are About A Boy, About Schmidt, Adaptation, Chicago, and The Hours. No surprises there, except perhaps that so many of them start with the letter A. The original screenplay nominees are a bit more surprising: Antwone Fisher, Bowling for Columbine, Far From Heaven, Gangs of New York, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I don't recall Antwone Fisher as being all that well received, so it surprised me that the WGA thought highly enough of it to give it a nomination. And the nod for Bowling for Columbine is interesting because you don't see documentaries nominated outside of documentary categories very often. Chalk it up to the influence of Hollywood lib'ruls, I guess. And some people might be surprised to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding nominated as an original screenplay, since it's rather well-known that Tom Hanks decided to finance the film after seeing Nia Vardalos's one-woman show of the same name, but in fact the screenplay was written first, and she based the stage show on it after she was unable to sell it. But I wasn't surprised because I already knew that.
The television awards are always more fun than the film awards, because the writers get to nominate their own scripts, so you don't necessarily see the same things nominated for WGA awards as you do for, say, the Emmys. What's more, the writer can submit any version of the script, so the nominated script may bear little to no resemblance to the episode that actually aired. (Famously, Harlan Ellison submitted his original script for the Star Trek episode "The City of the Edge of Forever," because he was mad about the changes Gene Roddenberry made for the shooting script. The original version won the WGA award, but the shooting script version won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Draw your own conclusions.)
Anyway, on to the current nominees. There's a new animation category this year, and Fox swept it. The nominees include three episodes of The Simpsons, one each of Futurama and King of the Hill, and an animated special called Santa, Baby. I'm particularly pleased with the nomination for Futurama; the nominated episode, "Godfellas," is, in my opinion, among the top ten episodes of that series. Interestingly, two of the three nominated Simpsons episodes involved the family traveling to a foreign country (Canada and Brazil).
In the Episodic Drama category, we have the usual suspects -- The West Wing, Six Feet Under, ER and The Sopranos -- but a couple of unexpected nominees as well. The pilot episode of The Education of Max Bickford got a nomination. You know, Max Bickford wasn't a great show by any stretch of the imagination, but I do agree that the pilot was well-written. I tend not to have strong emotional reactions to fictional characters, but I found Max to be deeply annoying and almost completely unlikable. Any script that can create that kind of emotional reaction in me must be pretty good. The other unexpected nominee in this category was the Showtime series Resurrection Blvd., which I've never seen and about which I know only what I just looked up in the IMDb.
In the episodic comedy category, we have three episodes of Sex and the City (ugh), the pilot of The Bernie Mac Show, an episode of Frasier, the episode of Ed in which Carol didn't get married (which, come to think of it, actually describes every episode of Ed to date), and ... wait, what this? I don't believe it! The pilot episode of Scrubs! Finally, a little love for the Scrubsters. I love Scrubs. Too bad it was bumped last night in favor of a lackluster Friends rerun. And speaking of which, the lack of nominations for Friends reinforces my perception that in recent seasons the cast has elevated the scripts, which in my experience is unusual. It's usually the other way around.
I don't really care about the rest of the television categories, or the shows nominated in them, so I'm going to ignore them and jump down to the radio categories, which are surprising in that there are no nominees from NPR. Nor, having looked back over the nominees from recent years, have there ever been any nominees from NPR, at least as far back as 1996, which is as far back as the records go online. There must be some rule that prohibits material that airs on NPR from being considered. Maybe NPR writers aren't allow to join the Guild? Unfortunately, the WGA website was of little help to me. How dare they!
The awards will be announced March 8, but will apparently not be televised. What's up with that? I'd watch.