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Words Come To Life At Academy Nicholl Fellowship Event

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

The 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellows were rewarded with a special treat this year. In addition to receiving a $35,000 grant presented to the five winners and a certificate recognizing their achievement, they heard their words come to life from the stage of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Breaking away from the tradition recognition dinner, this year’s finalist gathered before a crowd of Academy and Nicholl committee members, past Nicholl fellows and an assembly of invited guests at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater to enjoy a live read of their work. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia (director, Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child) and produced by Julie Lyn (Albert Nobbs, The Jane Austen Book Club) a fifteen minute section was presented by four highly acclaimed performs. Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow), Elle Fanning (Super 8, Ginger & Rosa), Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, the Harry Potter franchise) and Anton Yelchin (the Star Trek franchise, Like Crazy) read stage directions and performed assorted characters ranging from 19th century Oxford professors, Roman gladiators, modern day playboys, 14 year old violin protégés and a Jersey City mother focused on giving her son a better life.

Out of a submitted 7,251 scripts, five scripts were chosen for the top honors of Nicholl Fellows.  This year’s Fellows include one writing team and four solo writers.  Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges jointly written script “Legion” focused on a group of Roman soldiers who are abandoned in the German wilderness, left to find for themselves.   DeJohn is a professional business man from Santa Ynez while his partner Alton Hedges is a SWAT team leader.   Patty Jones, a writer from Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote “Joe Banks, “ a script Nicholl Committee Member Tom Rickman was certain had been written by a man. The script follows the ordeals of a son who learns his father is not a Nobel Peace Prize winner but a Lothario who writes trashy romance novels.   CAA employee Stephanie Shannon, a Los Angeles transplant from Dallas, Texas wrote “Queen of Hearts,” a romantic script set on the campus of Oxford University in the late 1800s.   Alan Roth’s “Jersey City Story” was loosely based on his own encounter with a young boy who, after his father passed away, is mentored by a professional basketball star.  Written by Barbara Stepansky, a native of Poland who moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago to pursue a film career, “Sugar in My Veins”   explores the relationship that develops when a 14 year old professional violinist falls in love with a lighting technician twice her age.

“As I was writing my script I kept looking at my director’s postcard signed by a former Nicholl winner who wrote ‘You Can Do it,’ and I kept going,” said Stepansky.  “I want to share those words with all the other writers out there who have a dream.  Don’t give up.  You can do it too.”

The Fellows were chosen from a pool of ten finalists.  The five finalists also participated in the evenings festivities.  Included in this list are Scott Adams (Slingshot), William Casey (Smut), Brian Forrester (Hear of the Monstyr), Noah Thomas Grossman (The Cupid Code) and Erin KLG (Lost Children).

To learn more about the Nicholl program and other Academy events, please visit: