For Immediate Release
March 18, 2002
A Beautiful Event Honors Writers of A Beautiful Mind
LOS ANGELES - Author Sylvia Nasar and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman were honored on March 16 with the USC Scripter® Award for their portraits of afflicted genius John Forbes Nash in the book and film of A Beautiful Mind. The sold-out event drew a crowd of 370 and netted $100,000 for the Doheny Library Preservation Fund. On hand to fete their peers were a number of literary luminaries, including Scripter finalists Helen Fielding (author and co-screenwriter of Bridget Jones's Diary) and Rob Festinger (co-screenwriter of In the Bedroom). Actress Anne Archer and A Beautiful Mind co-stars Paul Bettany and Josh Lucas were presenters at the event, which was emceed by actor Gavin MacLeod. Comedy legend Hal Kanter served as grand master of ceremonies.
After declaring herself honored to join the ranks of past Scripter winners, Nasar - whose biography of Nash won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award - drew an analogy between the mathematician's innovations and those of screenwriter Goldsman.
She noted that Nash's original idea was to take mathematical ideas developed for physics and apply them to economics.
"It was pure genius of Akiva," she said, to use devices from vastly different, non-biographical genres of film - notably science fiction - to tell the story of a brilliant mind afflicted with schizophrenia. [Nash's] delusions," she said, "came to him the way his mathematics did. And Akiva let the audience see the world through Nash's eyes."
Goldsman paid reverent tribute to his mother, a psychologist who created one of the nation's first group homes for the care of troubled children, for providing him with the sympathetic insight into mental illness that infuses his screenplay. As a child, Goldsman said, he lived with his mother's patients, "children who dreamed while they were awake."
"Nothing those kids were doing was without a reason. We just didn't understand the reason," said the screenwriter, adding that he, with director Howard, had "tried to create for just a second the experience of what it might be to suffer" from delusions. And, he said, "if going home from the movie one person who saw it looked at the person standing on the street corner screaming at empty air with more understanding, then we'll have done our jobs," said Goldsman.
"My mom taught me something," said Goldsman, "It's great to have a beautiful mind, but it's even better to discover a beautiful heart."
The University of Southern California's Scripter® Award was created to recognize both the author and screenwriter behind the year's best film adaptation of a book while raising visibility and support for the USC Libraries. The black-tie dinner honoring the writers was held in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus. This year's ceremony marked the return of the event to Doheny Library, which had been closed during the last two Scripter® Award seasons for a seismic retrofit and renovation.
Among the guests at the sold-out event were trustees of the university, film industry executives and talent, and friends and supporters of USC. Dean of the University Libraries and Chief Information Officer Jerry D. Campbell spoke about the significance of the Scripter® Award to the USC Libraries.
"We are proud to honor those individuals who give libraries their purpose," Campbell said. "After all, without writers - and the books and publications they produce - there would be no need for libraries, nor for the breakthrough technology designed to link people with information, knowledge and ideas. And writers, in turn, need good libraries. Books, journals, periodicals and archived documents undergird much of the research that goes into creating a great story."
Opened in 1932, Doheny Library is one of the university's oldest buildings and a Los Angeles historical landmark. Last October Doheny was reintroduced to the university community after an 18-month seismic retrofit. Doheny Library won a 2001 Preservation Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy for the project.