News Release: January 12, 2011
Writers Seth Freeman and Susannah Grant Named 2011 WGAW Valentine Davies Award Honorees
2011 Award Recipient
Emmy Award-winning television writer Seth Freeman and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Susannah Grant have each been named recipients of the Writers Guild of America West’s 2011 Valentine Davies Award, recognizing their contributions to the entertainment industry and community at large. Freeman and Grant will both be feted, along with other honorees, at the 2011 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Saturday, February 5, 2011, in Hollywood.
The WGAW’s Valentine Davies service award honors Guild members whose humanitarian efforts and service have brought dignity and honor to writers everywhere. Past Valentine Davies recipients include Phil Alden Robinson, Norman Lear, Neal Baer, Larry Gelbart, Tom Schulman, Carl Reiner, and Victoria Riskin.
“Beyond the social and cultural impact their often topical bodies of work have made, Seth and Susannah’s ongoing personal service has made a real difference to many in the entertainment industry, our community, and the world. Embodying the best qualities of Writers Guild members, both of these deserving honorees continue to accomplish extraordinary efforts that positively impact not only people’s lives, but entire communities,” said WGAW President John Wells.
A multiple Emmy-winning television writer-producer, Freeman most recently created the ABC Family series Lincoln Heights, which ran for four seasons. Over the past four decades, Freeman has written, produced, directed, and/or created over 300 hours of television movies and series, writing episodes for such shows as The Waltons, The Blue Knight, Rhoda, Phyllis, and Doc before becoming a writer-producer on the long-running newspaper drama Lou Grant and other acclaimed TV series.
During his career, Freeman has earned three Emmy Awards (one for Outstanding Writing and sharing two for Outstanding Drama on Lou Grant), as well as garnering eight Emmy nominations: a total of seven for his work on Lou Grant and one for Brooklyn Bridge. Freeman also received a Writers Guild Award (1979, Episodic Drama) for penning the memorable Lou Grant episode “Prisoner.” In addition to receiving Golden Globe, Image, Christopher, and Peabody Awards for his frequently issue-driven TV writing over the years, Freeman received a PEN USA Teleplay Award in 1982 for the Lou Grant episode “Blacklist,” and was also a Humanitas finalist for his work on TV’s Doc. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.
Freeman started out writing for the stage, a medium to which he has recently returned. A short play, MacSpin, was performed off-Broadway in New York in December 2010 and will be part of a festival in Northern California in January 2011. A recent reading of his new full-length play, Tough Cookie, in Los Angeles starred John Larroquette, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Harold Gould, Jane Lynch, Joe Spano, Henry Simmons, and JoBeth Williams.
He has served on the Board of Advisors of the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica for 25 years and on the Board of Advisors of the UCLA Medical Center for twelve years. He recently joined the Board of Advisors of the newly established Institute for Patient Safety at UCLA. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Educational Advancement and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Writers Guild Foundation. As a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, Freeman traveled to Guatemala in March of 2010 as part of a task force examining violence against women and women’s and children’s health issues in that country.
A WGAW member since 1973, Freeman currently serves as Chair of the WGAW’s Television Credits Committee, as well as chairing the Guild’s Television Credits Review Committee. In addition to serving on several Guild committees, he has chaired the WGAW Awards Study Committee and continues to serve on the Writers Guild Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Freeman is also an active supporter of the Humane Society and Amnesty International. In addition to the WGAW, he is also a member of the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of Canada, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, PEN-USA, and the Dramatists Guild. Freeman has a degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley.
He continues to contribute to a wide variety of charities, ranging from human rights to the environment to the arts to medical research; among his notable community contributions:
- Endowed (supported with mentoring, script reading, etc.) a screenwriting award launched in 2007 via the Department of Film at Brooklyn College, his father’s alma mater.
- Volunteered to mentor war/military veterans during the inaugural weekend-long Veterans Writing Workshop sponsored by the Writers Guild Foundation this past summer.
- Developing a nutrition cookbook, in conjunction with dietitians at UCLA Medical Center, tailored for patients and families leaving the hospital after a major illness.
- Co-created (with Allan Burns) three short films for the Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica for use in the Center’s college and high school programs.
- Wrote and helped produce and edit a short film, In Our Own Backyard, for the Santa Monica YWCA to help raise the profile of their community programs.
A WGAW member since 1994, Grant’s own social concerns have often been reflected in her thought-provoking, issue-driven screenplays – from Erin Brockovich to The Soloist to 28 Days. In 2001, Grant received Academy Award, WGA, and BAFTA nominations for Original Screenplay for Erin Brockovich, and earned a PEN USA Award for the Oscar-nominated film’s screenplay. She has written or co-written screenplays for Pocahontas, Ever After: A Cinderella Story (co-written with Andy Tennant & Rick Parks), 28 Days, In Her Shoes (based upon on the novel by Jennifer Weiner), Charlotte's Web (co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick, based on the film story by Earl Hammer, Jr.; based on the book by E.B. White), and The Soloist (based on the book by Steve Lopez). In 2007, Grant wrote and made her directorial debut with the feature film Catch and Release, which premiered at the 2006 Austin Film Festival.
From 1995 to 1998, Grant was a writer-producer-director on the popular Fox television series Party of Five, which received a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Drama. She is currently working on a pilot for CBS, a feature for Disney, and a feature film musical featuring the music of the Beach Boys for 20th Century Fox.
A graduate of both Amherst College and the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies screenwriting program, Grant launched her screenwriting career in 1992 as a recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for her script Island Girl. Since then, she has served as Chair of AMPAS’ Nicholls Fellowships Committee for nearly ten years and, as a result, has played an instrumental role in helping develop and spotlight the work of young screenwriters.
She has also served as an advisor for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab for several years, mentoring the industry’s next generation of emerging screenwriters.
Grant also serves as a Board member of Street Poets, Inc., a remarkable L.A.-based program whose mission is to inspire at-risk youth in the juvenile detention facilities, schools, and streets of Los Angeles County to discover and develop their voices as writers, artists, and human beings. Their programs help these kids develop writing skills as a means towards self-awareness and transcending self-destructive lifestyles.
Over the years, Grant has also been intimately involved with Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, a hospital that was founded by her grandparents in Haiti that has been saving and improving lives for over 50 years, for which she continues fundraising efforts and personally visits each year.
Grant also served on the WGA Negotiating Committee during the Guild’s 2007 contract negotiations.