April 14, 2024

News Release: January 31, 2002

Writers Guild of America, west to Present Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award to Glen and Les Charles

2002 Award Recipient

Glen and Les Charles, the team of brothers who have written some of television's greatest comedies, will jointly receive the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television from the Writers Guild of America, west at the annual Writers Guild Awards ceremony on March 2, 2002.

The Chayefsky Laurel is the Guild’s highest award for television writing, given to writers who have advanced the literature of television through the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer. Previous recipients include Steven Bochco, Madelyn Pugh Davis, Bob Carroll Jr., Jess Oppenheimer, Larry Gelbart, Rod Serling, Carl Reiner and last year’s recipient, David Lloyd.

"The Charles brothers have always brought comedic wit and style to their television writing, from M*A*S*H to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, Cheers and right on up to Frasier," said Victoria Riskin, President of the WGAw. "The brilliance of their work has elevated the art of television. The Writers Guild is proud to honor them with its highest award for television, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award."

Glen and Les Charles began their television careers in 1974 as writers of an episode of M*A*S*H. They then became part of the stable of writers at MTM in its heyday under Grant Tinker, working with and learning from one of the best group of comedy writers ever assembled in one company. The Charles brothers wrote episodes for several MTM shows, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and eventually became producers for the first time on its spin-off Phyllis. They also produced the last season of The Bob Newhart Show. In 1978, they moved to Paramount to become producers and head writers of Taxi, along with creators Jim Brooks, Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels and David Davis. It became one of the most honored shows in television history. The Charleses stayed with it for four years, writing some 25 episodes before leaving, along with James Burrows, to create their own show.

Their pilot script for Cheers won both the Emmy and the Writers Guild Award for best comedy episode of 1982. It laid the groundwork for a series that, under their guidance, lasted 11 years, rose from a slow beginning to number one in the ratings its last two seasons, and won numerous awards in America and abroad. Cheers is second on the list of most Emmys won by a series (28), including four for best comedy, and holds the record for most Emmy nominations ever with 117. It also resulted in Frasier, television’s most successful spin-off. Glen and Les oversaw the writing of Cheers, creating both the original characters and the additions as the cast changed over the years. The final episode, which they wrote, was one of the most-watched television programs of all time.

Glen and Les Charles have won a total of eight Emmys for writing and producing, as well as the above-mentioned Writers Guild Award, for "Give Me a Ring Sometime," the pilot episode of Cheers, which aired Sept. 30, 1982. They were also nominated for two episodes of Taxi.

According to their production company, CBC Productions (Charles-Burrows-Charles), they have "recently been involved in various movie and TV projects, and are now working on a Broadway comedy, a novel, a grand opera and a VCR instruction manual."

Paddy Chayefsky (1923-81) was one of the most highly acclaimed writers in the history of television. His stories—many of which represented the viewpoint of the common person and satirized large institutions—brought him recognition in the theater, television and films. Probably his best known television play was Marty (1953), which was remade as a film two years later, when it won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1955. In later years, Chayefsky worked exclusively for films, receiving two additional Academy Awards for his writing of The Hospital and Network.