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USC Scripter Awards for screen adaptations go to ‘American Fiction’ and ‘Slow Horses’

Kevin Crust – Los Angeles Times (TNS)

The writers of the Oscar-nominated film “American Fiction” and the Apple TV+ series “Slow Horses” earned top honors at the 36th USC Libraries Scripter Awards on Saturday night.

Established in 1988, the awards recognize adapted screenplays and their original source material. The prizes are given to both the author and screenwriter, acknowledging the collaborative process.

This year’s winners, Cord Jefferson and Percival Everett for “American Fiction,” and Mick Herron and Will Smith for “Slow Horses,” were announced by selection committee chair Howard Rodman at a black-tie ceremony at University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library.

“American Fiction,” Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel “Erasure,” is also nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture and adapted screenplay. The film stars best actor nominee Jeffrey Wright as a frustrated academic and novelist who pens an outlandish work under a pseudonym to underscore what he sees as Black stereotypes in popular culture. Tribune News Service critic Katie Walsh described the film as “a social satire that wields a scalpel, not a cleaving broadsword, as it surgically slices through the many hypocrisies of the culture industry at large.”

Accepting the award, Jefferson told the audience, “It felt like I was reading a book written specifically for me.” “It felt like I understood what was going on in these characters with the story at a molecular level.” Everett is the first USC professor to win a Scripter Award.

British screenwriter Smith adapted Herron’s 2010 novel (first in his “Slough House” series, of which there are now eight books), that follows a group of sidelined MI agents attempting to foil a potential terrorist plot. The duo were repeat winners, earning the award for the episode “Negotiating With Tigers” from Season 3 of “Slow Horses,” which Smith adapted from Herron’s book “Real Tigers.”


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