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WGAW to Honor TV Writer DIANE ENGLISH

hollywoodnews.com:Emmy Award-winning Murphy Brown creator Diane English has been named recipient of the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2011 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television, honoring lifetime achievement for outstanding television writing. English will be feted, along with other honorees, at the 2011 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Saturday, February 5, 2011, in Hollywood.

“Diane English is a total class act – a trailblazing, supremely talented writer whose groundbreaking body of work has helped to both equalize and revolutionize television, while raising the bar for insightful, caustic, and moving writing on primetime TV. Her unique voice influenced not only a generation of women writers, but all creative artists who strive to deliver quality work,” said WGAW President John Wells.

A WGAW member since 1977, multiple award-winning writer-producer English first began her career at WNET/13, New York City’s PBS affiliate. She worked first as a story editor for the Theatre in America series, and then as Associate Director of the Television Laboratory. From 1977 to 1980, she also found time to contribute a monthly column on television for Vogue magazine.

In 1980, she co-wrote the visionary sci-fi telefilm The Lathe of Heaven, PBS’ first full-length motion picture-for-television. For her adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel, she received her first Writers Guild Award nomination (1981, Anthology Drama, Adapted; Teleplay by Roger Swaybill and Diane English). English followed that success with the television movies My Life as a Man for NBC and Classified Love for CBS.

In 1985, English created the critically acclaimed Foley Square, her first half-hour comedy series. She served as producer and writer of the show, which aired on CBS from 1985-86. During the 1986 and 1987 TV seasons, she executive produced and wrote the CBS comedy series My Sister Sam, starring Pam Dawber.

Soon after, English went on to create, write, and produce the groundbreaking comedy Murphy Brown, starring Candice Bergen in the title role, which ran for ten high-rated seasons on CBS. During its decade-long run, Murphy Brown received 62 Emmy nominations, as well as earning 18 Emmy Awards (including two for Best Comedy Series, and one Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the show’s pilot episode, “Respect,” penned by English), and a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series in 1990. Murphy Brown was twice named Best Comedy Series by the Television Critics Association (TCA). It also received the 1991 George Foster Peabody Award for Significant and Meritorious Achievement. Murphy Brown earned English four WGA nominations, including one for the show’s final episode, “Never Can Say Goodbye, Parts I & II,” as well as two Writers Guild Awards, one for the episode “Uh-Oh, Part II” (1993, Teleplay by Diane English, Story by Korby Siamis & Diane English)), and another for the episode “Brown Like Me, Parts I & II” (1991).

Under the Shukovsky English Entertainment banner, English later created the multiple Emmy-nominated series Love & War (CBS), followed by the co-creation of Double Rush (CBS), co-created by Stephen Nathan, and Ink (CBS), and executive produced Living In Captivity (Fox).

Most recently, English wrote, produced, and directed the 2008 big-screen remake of the classic dramedy The Women, an adaptation of Clare Booth Luce’s iconic play and George Cukor’s 1939 film (screenplay by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin). Critic Roger Ebert wrote of the film, which featured an all-star female cast including Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, and Bette Midler: “What a pleasure this movie is…a well-crafted, well-written, and well-acted entertainment.”

English has also been the recipient of numerous individual honors, including three Emmy Awards for my her work on Murphy Brown, the 1997 Astral Award of Excellence at the Banff Television Festival, a Genie Award from the American Women in Radio and Television, the Commissioners’ Award from the National Commission on Working Women for her positive portrayal of women on television, and the 1992 Freedom-to-Write-Award from PEN Center USA West for her stance on behalf of freedom of expression and against censorship and cultural tyranny.

Born in 1948 in Buffalo, NY, in 1994 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from her alma mater, Buffalo State College. She was named one of the “50 Greatest Women in Radio & Television” by the American Women in Radio & Television and is featured in the organization’s book, Making Waves. In 2004, she was honored by Planned Parenthood for her indefatigable commitment to women’s rights, reproductive healthcare, and freedom of choice. In 2005, she was inducted into the Museum of Television and Radio’s “She Made It” collection as part of its inaugural class.

In 2008, English received the prestigious Crystal Award from Women in Film for her work on The Women, as well as receiving the 2008 Diversity Award from the Multicultural Motion Picture Association (MMPA) for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Women.

Named after one of the most influential writers in entertainment history, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television is the WGAW’s highest award for television writing, given to writers who have advanced the literature of television throughout the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer. Past Television Laurel Award recipients include Steven Bochco, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, David Chase, William Blinn, and Larry David.

Photo credit: Claudette Barius

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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