‘American Fiction’ and ‘Slow Horses’ Take Top Honors at USC Scripter Awards

Rexa Vella

‘American Fiction’ and ‘Slow Horses’ Take Top Honors at USC Scripter Awards

Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction” won outstanding film adaptation at the 36th annual USC Libraries Script Awards on Saturday, while Apple TV+’s “Slow Horses” won in the episodic series category for the second year in a row.

Jefferson and Percival Everett accepted the award for “American Fiction.” In his speech, Jefferson recalled his experience reading Everett’s novel “Erasure” in 2020, which he went on to adapt into “American Fiction.”

“It felt like I was reading a book written specifically for me. It felt like I understood what was going on in these characters in the story on a molecular level,” he said. “It felt like somebody crawled into my brain and put it into words on a page. It felt like the book was electrified as I was holding it.”

Jefferson then reached out to Everett about adapting the novel. After a half-hour conversation, Everett agreed to give Jefferson the rights to the book for free for six months — a rare occurrence in the entertainment industry.

“This is not the first time that a book has changed my life. I’m sure it won’t be the last time a book has changed my life,” Jefferson said, wrapping up his speech.

Everett is the first USC professor to be honored with the Scripter.

Novelist Mick Herron and screenwriter Will Smith of “Slow Horses” became repeat winners in the episodic series category — a first for the awards. They were honored for the Season 3 episode “Negotiating with Tigers,” which Smith adapted from Herron’s book “Real Tigers.” Smith could not attend due to shooting Season 5 of “Slow Horses.” Herron accepted on behalf of both of them, relaying a message from Smith.

“This award is very important to me because it also celebrates the author, without whom the show would not exist. I see my role on the show as a conduit between Mick and the actors, which is why the only reviews that really matter to me are those from Gary Oldman and Mick Herron,” Smith’s message said.

“American Fiction,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer,” “Origin” and “Poor Things” comprised the film nominees, while “The Crown,” “Daisy Jones and the Six,” “The Last of Us,” “Slow Horses” and “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” received TV nominations. 

Considered an indicator for the best adapted screenplay category at the Oscars, past Scripter winners that have gone on to win at the Academy Awards include “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “The Imitation Game” (2014), “The Big Short” (2015), “Moonlight” (2016), “Call Me by Your Name” (2017), “Nomadland” (2020) and “Women Talking” (2022). Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” (2019) is the only film to win the Oscar for adapted screenplay without also receiving a Scipter nomination.

“American Fiction,” “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things” all received Oscar nods in the adapted screenplay category, along with “Barbie” and “The Zone of Interest.” However, the “Barbie” awards team confirmed to Variety that the film was not submitted for consideration at the Scripters. It is unclear whether the film was eligible for submission, as it was not based on a book or printed material. Instead, it is credited as “based on ‘Barbie’ by Mattel” — a toy company.

The Scripter finalists were selected from a field of 80 films and 56 episodic series.

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