This year's recipients are (listed alphabetically by script title):
“Fenian's Trace,” Sean Mahoney, Nicasio, California
“The Gaza Golem,” Daniel Lawrence, Los Angeles
“Letter Quest,” Doug Davidson, Baldwin, New York
“The Secret Boy,” Whit Rummel, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“Split Infinity,” John Sinclair and Nova Jacobs, Los Angeles
This is the second consecutive year that a script written by a team earned its writers a fellowship; collaborative efforts were first allowed into the competition in 2001. The program began in 1985.
A record 6,073 scripts were submitted for this year's competition. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000 or received a fellowship or prize that includes a "first look" clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer's work.
Nicholl dinner keynoter Ed Zwick's screenplay credits include “The Last Samurai” and “The Siege.” As a producer, he took home an Oscar statuette for Best Picture winner “Shakespeare in Love” in 1998 and earned a nomination as one of the producers of Best Picture nominee “Traffic” in 2000.
The five 2004 fellowship-winning scripts were selected from a pool of ten of finalists by the Nicholl Committee, chaired by writer and 1992 Nicholl Fellow Susannah Grant and comprised of writers John Gay, Fay Kanin, Hal Kanter, Dan Petrie Jr. and Steven Zaillian, cinematographer Steven Poster, editor Mia Goldman, actor Eva Marie Saint, executive Bill Mechanic, producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Nicksay and Buffy Shutt, and agent Ron Mardigian. All are members of the Academy.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during the fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl Fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.
Since the program's inception in 1985, 83 fellowships have been awarded, and a number of the fellows have achieved considerable success. This year saw the release of the critically acclaimed "Mean Creek," written and directed by Jacob Estes from his 1998 Nicholl-winning script, and "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," co-written by 1993 fellow Victoria Arch. "Admissions" (aka "Island of Brilliance"), Dawn O'Leary's 1993 winning script, premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
1998 Fellow Mike Rich wrote "Radio," "The Rookie" and "Finding Forrester," which was his Nicholl-winning script. Other produced Nicholl-winning scripts include 1998 Fellow Karen Moncrieff's "Blue Car" and 1996 Fellow Ehren Kruger's "Arlington Road." Kruger also wrote "The Ring," "Scream 3" and "Reindeer Games" and has four films slated for release in 2005.
Allison Anders, a 1986 Fellow, is the co-writer and director of "Things Behind the Sun" and the writer-director of "Gas Food Lodging" and "Mi Vida Loca." Grant, who joined the committee in 2001, received an Academy Award nomination for her "Erin Brockovich" screenplay, and also wrote or co-wrote "28 Days," "Ever After," and "Pocahontas." 1992 Fellow Andrew Marlowe wrote "Air Force One," "Hollow Man" and "End of Days." Raymond De Felitta, a 1991 Fellow, wrote and directed "Two Family House" (from his Nicholl Fellowship year script) and "Cafe Society." 1986 Fellow Jeffrey Eugenides won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "Middlesex."
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