Seabiscuit and Mystic River
The 16th annual USC Scripter® Award marked the first time in the history of the award that the writers of two films tied for the prize. Mystic River author Dennis Lehane and screenwriter Brian Helgeland, along with Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand and screenwriter Gary Ross, were honored at the ceremony on Sunday, February 15, 2004.
On hand to present Gary Ross with his Scripter crystal book were fellow screenwriters Paul Attanasio (an Academy Award® nominee for Donnie Brasco and Quiz Show) and Callie Khouri (Oscar winner for Thelma and Louise). Award-winning writer and historian Richard Reeves presented the Scripter award to Seabiscuit actors Elizabeth Banks and Gary Stevens, who accepted on behalf of author Laura Hillenbrand.
Actress and author Elaine Kagan presented the Scripter award to Kevin Chapman and Adam Nelson, who played the Savage brothers in Mystic River and accepted on behalf of Dennis Lehane. Actress and longtime selection committee member Anne Archer presented the Scripter to Alan Wertheimer, who accepted on behalf of Brian Helgeland.
Other presenters were film critic and USC faculty member Leonard Maltin and Academy Award-winning screenwriter and USC alumnus John Singleton (Boyz 'N the Hood). Legendary screenwriter Robert Towne (who won an Oscar for Chinatown) served as the selection committee chair for the second year in a row.
Actress Sharon Gless emceed the evening, with comedy legend Hal Kanter serving as grand master of ceremonies. The evening also included a special tribute to the late John Ritter, an alumnus of the USC School of Theatre who served as master of ceremonies for the 15th Annual USC Scripter® Awards.