News Release: January 18, 2018
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer to Receive WGAW’S 2018 Paul Selvin Award for The Post
2018 Award Recipient
Screenwriters Liz Hannah and Josh Singer have been named recipients of the Writers Guild of America West’s 2018 Paul Selvin Award for their screenplay The Post. The acclaimed film chronicles The Washington Post’s decision in 1971 to publish the Pentagon Papers in defiance of the Nixon administration. The award is given each year for the script that “best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.”
Hannah and Singer will be honored in Los Angeles at the Writers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 11, at The Beverly Hilton.
“Liz and Josh’s work on The Post embodies what the Selvin Award is all about. Using the lens of history they’ve created a movie that dramatizes a timeless struggle: the vital importance of journalists holding our government accountable in the face of public servants’ bald and desperate efforts to hinder freedom of speech and the press. The WGAW Board of Directors is proud to honor these two exemplary writers on an amazing and timely film,” said WGAW President David A. Goodman.
“I am honored to receive the WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award on behalf of our work on The Post. It was always our intention to not only tell the story of The Washington Post and The New York Times’ fight to publish The Pentagon Papers in the face of suppression from their government, but to also to shed light on the weighted personal and professional decision made by Katharine Graham to publish,” said The Post co-screenwriter Hannah. “Thank you to the WGAW for recognizing not only Josh and me, but the story of these people who stood up for the freedoms we so often take for granted; who sought to protect their writers for not just this case, but for years to come.”
“I am honored to receive the WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award on behalf of my work with the exceptional Liz Hannah on The Post. As Picasso said, ‘Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.’ In these times, I hope our work will indeed serve as an instrument of war against all those who would suppress speech,” said The Post co-screenwriter Singer. “I'd like to thank the WGAW for not only recognizing Liz and I but also reiterating the thought behind Kay Graham's decision, that ‘only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.’”
Part journalistic thriller, character study, and political exposé, this real-life drama offers an insider’s perspective of how and why Washington Post Publisher Katherine Graham, the first female publisher in the newspaper’s history, and WaPo Editor Ben Bradlee joined forces to defy the Nixon White House and publish a large section of the Pentagon Papers. These classified documents, released to the press by former RAND Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg, chronicled a decades-long, massive U.S. government cover-up going back several Presidential administrations and detailed the increased escalation of America’s role in an essentially unwinnable Vietnam War. Essentially, the government had been lying to the American people for 30 years about the grim reality of the Vietnam conflict.
This awards season, The Post has garnered multiple accolades so far: Golden Globe nominations, including Best Screenplay, Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director– Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg), Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Motion Picture (Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep); a Humanitas Prize nomination (Feature – Drama); multiple BFCA nominations, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor; and an AFI Award for “Movie of the Year.” In addition, the National Board of Review recently named The Post 2017’s Best Film, Hanks Best Actor, and Streep Best Actress.
Originally from New York, Hannah moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school at the American Film Institute. After graduating with an MFA in producing, she spent the next few years working in development at Denver & Delilah, actress-producer Charlize Theron’s production company, before eventually leaving to pursue writing full time. The Post was her first screenplay, ranked #2 on 2016’s Black List, and acquired by producer Amy Pascal shortly before the 2016 Presidential election. The film quickly went from page to screen and was released by 20th Century Fox just before Christmas 2017.
Currently, Hannah is developing a female anthology series for Universal Cable Productions, and penning a feature film script, Only Plane in the Sky, for MGM, adapted from a Politico article by Garrett Graff, which follows President George W. Bush and his White House team on Air Force One in the harrowing hours after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Singer made his screenwriting debut in 2013 with the journalistic drama The Fifth Estate, which centered on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He co-wrote 2015’s Spotlight (with director/co-screenwriter Tom McCarthy), which chronicled The Boston Globe’s dogged investigation and ultimate exposé of systematic sexual abuse covered up by the Catholic Church. The film won Writers Guild, Academy, and BAFTA Awards for original screenplay and an Oscar for Best Picture, among numerous accolades.
Most recently, Singer wrote the script for the upcoming Damien Chazelle-directed Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as the pioneering astronaut, which will be released by Universal in October 2018. He is also currently working on a musical biopic on Leonard Bernstein with Martin Scorsese attached to direct for Paramount.
Prior to writing films, Singer worked on a number of critically acclaimed television shows, including Fox’s cult sci-fi series Fringe, NBC’s long-running hit Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and NBC’s Emmy-winning The West Wing, which earned him two WGA nominations.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, Singer graduated from Yale University, where he studied Mathematics and Economics, and earned his JD at Harvard Law School and MBA at Harvard Business School.
Named after the late Paul Selvin, general counsel to the Guild for 25 years, the WGAW’s honorary award is given each year to the WGA member(s) whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to which Selvin devoted his professional life. Previous Selvin recipients include Tony Kushner, Margaret Nagle, Dustin Lance Black, Eric Roth, Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, Alex Gibney, Tate Taylor, John McNamara, and most recently Susannah Grant.