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‘Up in the Air’ Wins Scripter Award

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner take home top USC honor with novelist Walter Kirn

Former USC student Jason Reitman returned to campus in triumph Saturday night, as his script for "Up in the Air" was named the year’s top adaptation at the 22nd Annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards.

Reitman shared the honor with co-writer Sheldon Turner and with Walter Kirn, the writer of the 2001 novel on which the film is based. Scripter Awards honor both the screenwriter or screenwriters of the film, and the author of the original work on which the film is based.

Up in the Air posterThe dinner ceremony was held inside the Los Angeles Times research library, in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC Campus. The emcee was Catherine Quinlan, Dean of USC Libraries.

"Adaptation is collaboration," said Reitman when he accepted his award. "I’m really glad that you guys do this award, because it really speaks to how many writers work on a film."

Earlier, Reitman had drawn laughs when he began his speech by saying, "I am a Trojan. It is a thrill to finally come inside this library."

His father Ivan, he said, had actually spent more time in the library than Jason, because the elder Reitman shot the New York Public Library scenes from "Ghostbusters"at USC. 

The other nominees were "District 9" (screenplay by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, based on the short film by Blomkamp), "An Education" (screenplay by Nick Hornby, based on the memoir by Lynn Barber), "Precious" (screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher, based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire), and "Crazy Heart" (screenplay by Scott Cooper, based on the novel by Thomas Cobb).

"It still hasn’t completely sunk in what’s happening, but today is one of the best days I’ve had this awards season," said Fletcher, who in the morning appeared in a screenwriters panel at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Former Scripter winner and "Schindler’s List" writer Steven Zaillian presented the Scripter Literary Achievement Award to Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump," "The Insider," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), who remembered the two times he’d been nominated in the past.  "Both times I suffered the ignominity of losing to lesser works whose names escape me," he joked.

The writers who didn’t win can console themselves with this: Only six times in the 22 year history of the award has the Scripter winner gone on to win the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay.