News Release: February 26, 2003

John Wierick and Jacob Kruger to Receive Paul Selvin Award from Writers Guild of America, west

The Writers Guild of America, west has chosen John Wierick and Jacob Krueger, who co-wrote The Matthew Shepard Story, to be this year's recipient of the Paul Selvin Award, at the guild's 55th awards ceremony on Saturday, March 8, 2003.

The Paul Selvin Award goes to that member (or those members) whose script "best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere, and to whose defense Paul Selvin committed his professional life." Selvin served as counsel for the Guild for 25 years. Previous recipients include Allison Cross, George Stevens Jr., Cynthia Whitcomb, Gary Ross, David E. Kelley, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Eric Roth and Michael Mann, and last year's recipient, Tim Sexton.

"John and Jacob have told a story that is about more than the hate crime upon which it is based," said WGAw President Victoria Riskin. "They have dealt with the universal issues of fear, violence and intolerance in a way that deserves to receive special recognition for its importance."

The Matthew Shepard Story is the journey of a young man, struggling to find himself in a world where homophobia is still seen as an "acceptable" form of intolerance. His story is juxtaposed with that of his parents, whose struggle to put together a statement about their son's life forces them to wrestle with their own intolerance, and ultimately leads them to forego the death penalty for his killers, in hopes of inspiring others to bring about a more loving and tolerant society.

John Wierick grew up in the family of a Baptist minister father who pastored churches in Texas, Louisiana and also in Mississippi. He is an advisor to the Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles, co-organizer with the WGAw of the Literacy in Media Awards. He has written for television and film since 1989; his work includes the feature film Bopha! (1993), the television films Double Teamed!, Crossed Over, and Ready to Run, and the television series Touched By An Angel, Family Man, and Step By Step.

The Matthew Shepard Story is Jacob Krueger's first produced screenplay. Krueger, who grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is a former executive at Alliance Atlantis Entertainment. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1997, and was a Presidential Scholar in Creative Writing. Introduced to the entertainment industry as a directing intern for the Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, he is currently collaborating on two original film musicals: Snowball and Blind Love.

Founded in 1933, the Writers Guild of America, west represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable and new media industries for collective bargaining. The guild conducts numerous programs, seminars and events throughout the world on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers.