April 14, 2024

News Release: March 26, 2008

Sopranos' Creator-Writer David Chase to Receive WGAW's 2008 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television

2008 Award Recipient

Acclaimed television writer and The Sopranos creator David Chase will receive the Writers Guild of America West's coveted 2008 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television, honoring lifetime achievement for outstanding writing, at the WGAW's upcoming Honorary Awards Luncheon on April 23 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

“We had to give this award to David Chase following the remarkable run of The Sopranos.  Not doing so would be to deny him the closure that -,” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone.

Whether contributing his diverse talents as writer, director, or producer - and often all three - Chase has been the creative force behind some of the most ground-breaking, indelible programming ever broadcast on network and cable television, including one of the most critically and commercially successful TV series, HBO's The Sopranos.

Born in Mount Vernon, NY, Chase was raised in northern New Jersey, a locale that would later provide inspiration for The Sopranos. He earned a Masters degree in Communications from Stanford University, majoring in film. Chase served as both writer and producer of TV's The Rockford Files, which earned Chase his first Emmy in 1978 for the popular series (Outstanding Drama Series), shared with the show's producers, as well as the Edgar Allen Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Two years later, he went on to write and produce the acclaimed 1980 ABC telefilm, Off the Minnesota Strip, an exploration of teenage runaways and prostitution, for which he won an Emmy in 1980 (Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or Special) as well as a Writers Guild Award (Original Anthology Drama). Chase's first chance to direct came with the '80s incarnation of the classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents, when he directed an episode he wrote. That experience inspired Chase to forge an identity as multi-hyphenate, going on to both write, direct, and executive produce the critically acclaimed short-lived series, Almost Grown.

Chase was instrumental in the success of such cutting-edge TV series as I'll Fly Away and Northern Exposure, bringing to each of these acclaimed shows a rich sense of character, a taste of iconoclastic humor, an eye for cinematic complexities, and a resistance to convention. As a result, I'll Fly Away was twice nominated for an Emmy for Best Series. The series was ultimately purchased for syndication by PBS Public Television, the only time a network show has been so honored.

Writer-director Chase's sobering, innovative worldview of contract killings, depression, and the deep interpersonal dynamics of a dysfunctional Italian-American family became the iconic HBO series The Sopranos, which launched in 1999 and quickly became a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon, adding buzzwords and catchphrases to the American lexicon. During the show's long run, which capped in 2007 with a flurry of industry accolades for the show's final season, Chase has received many awards for his visionary work on the series.

A six-time WGA nominee, Chase's most recent Writers Guild Award win was for Dramatic Series in 2007 for The Sopranos, shared with Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider, Matthew Weiner, and Terence Winter. Over the past decade, Chase has earned multiple Emmys for his work on The Sopranos, including Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 2007 (for the episode “Made in America”), in 2003 (for the episode “Whitecaps,” co-written with Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess), and in 1999 (for the episode “College,” co-written with James Manos, Jr.), as well Emmys in 2007 and 2004 for Outstanding Drama Series, shared with the show's producers. In 2000, he took home the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series for the show. In addition, The Sopranos was twice awarded the prestigious Peabody Award in 1999 and 2000.

The Sopranos episodes garnered universal appeal, as evidenced by the 2000 Biarritz International Festival's Silver FIPA for Best Foreign Series and the Reims International Television Festival's Award for Best Script in 1999.

Chase's many other awards and honors include the DGA Honors Award (2006), the Special Edgar for the Creation of Breakthrough Television by the Mystery Writers of America (2005), the Award of Excellence from the Banff Television Festival (2003), and the Crystal Apple Award (2000). In addition, over the years, he has garnered several shared PGA Television Producer of the Year Awards in Episodic for The Sopranos in 2008, 2005, and 2000, as well as the PGA Award in 1993 for I'll Fly Away.

Named after one of the most acclaimed writers in TV history, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television is the Guild's highest award for television writing, given to writers who have “advanced the literature of television throughout the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer.” Previous award recipients include Steven Bochco, David E. Kelley, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, and last year's honoree, John Wells.