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Hollywood writers honor Coppola, 'Splendor'

'American Splendor,' starring Hope Davis and Paul Giamatti, won the Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay.
'American Splendor,' starring Hope Davis and Paul Giamatti, won the Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Hollywood's screenwriters Saturday snubbed the final installment of the highly acclaimed "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and instead awarded a key prize to a low-budget film based on a comic book writer.

"American Splendor," which revolves around the travails of comics connoisseur Harvey Pekar, won the Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay, while writer/director Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," about a pair of mismatched Americans languishing in Tokyo, nabbed the trophy for original screenplay.

The "American Splendor" screenplay was written by the film's directors, Robert Springer and Shari Springer Berman, who were not present at the awards. The Writers Guild of America Awards were handed out simultaneously in Los Angeles and New York.

Coppola said she was excited to be honored by the union.

"I find it difficult to write, so it's very encouraging and exciting to get an award," Coppola told Reuters after the event.

Coppola's competition was Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra for "Bend it Like Beckham," Steven Knight for "Dirty Pretty Things," Irish director Jim Sheridan and his daughters Naomi and Kirsten for "In America," and first-time writer/director Tom McCarthy for "The Station Agent."

The other adapted screenplay nominees were director Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," Anthony Minghella for "Cold Mountain," Brian Helgeland for "Mystic River," and writer/director Gary Ross for "Seabiscuit."

Coppola, Knight and the Sheridans will vie for the Academy Award next week, along with the writers of "The Barbarian Invasions" and "Finding Nemo."

Apart from "Cold Mountain," all the Writers Guild of America adapted screenplay contenders will compete for the Oscar, along with the Brazilian drama "City of God."

In the last 12 years, eight of the Writers Guild of America adapted screenplay winners and seven of its original screenplay winners have gone on to Oscar glory.

"Lost in Translation" has already picked up three Golden Globes -- an Oscar bellwether -- including best screenplay. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which has 11 Oscar nominations, has collected four Golden Globes and prizes from Hollywood's producers and directors guilds.



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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