Robert Towne Honored With USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award

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The Friends of the USC Libraries have selected Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Towne as the 2014 USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award honoree. The USC Libraries will present the award to Towne at the 26th-annualScripter Award ceremony on Saturday, February 8, 2014.

The Literary Achievement Award is a separate honor—distinct from the annual Scripter Award—that recognizes writers who have made significant, sustained contributions to the art of adaptation throughout their careers. USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan and the Friends of the USC Libraries established the Literary Achievement Award in 2008.

“I am gratified to receive the USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award, knowing that it is an award I share with all those whose work I have drawn upon in the adaptation process and, indeed, all those whose work has edified and inspired me,” said Towne of the honor.

Towne is a native of Southern California, having grown up in San Pedro and Palos Verdes, and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont. The region has informed much of his work, particularly his scripts for the Depression-era original screenplay Chinatown and Ask the Dust, which Towne adapted from the 1939 novel by John Fante.

In 1991, the Library of Congress selected Chinatown for preservation in the National Film Registry, a designation reserved for films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

“On behalf of our libraries at USC, I’m proud to honor Robert Towne’s talent as a literary and cinematic artist of such enduring, global caliber,” said Catherine Quinlan, dean of the USC Libraries. “Through his adaptation of the seminal L.A. novel Ask the Dust, Robert Towne brought an important piece of Los Angeles history and culture to the world, and his entire body of adapted work stands as great inspiration for filmmakers who transform one medium of creative expression into another.”

In addition to the Oscar win for Chinatown, Towne has been nominated three other times, for The Last Detail in 1973, Shampoo in 1975, and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan in 1984. Towne is a sought-after script doctor, who polished screenplays for Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, and Heaven Can Wait, among othersHe has recently joined the writing team for the final season of AMC’s Mad Men, currently in production by Lionsgate Television.

Previous Literary Achievement Award winners include Michael Chabon, Paul Haggis, Eric Roth, Steven Zaillian, and the team of Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.

The winners of the 26th-annual Scripter Award—for the year’s best adaptation of the printed word into a feature film released in calendar year 2013—will be announced at the ceremony on February 8. For tickets or additional information about the 26th-annual Scripter award ceremony, visit

About the USC Libraries Scripter Award

Established in 1988, the USC Libraries Scripter Award is an honor bestowed annually by the Friends of the USC Libraries in recognition of the most accomplished adaptation of the printed word into a feature film. The award celebrates screenwriters and screenwriting as well as the author of the original material upon which the screenwriters base their work. Scripter is the only award of its kind to recognize authors alongside the screenwriters who transform their stories into a cinematic experience.

Current silent auction donors for the 2014 Scripter ceremony include AOC, Arthur Murray Santa Monica, At Your Side Private Exercise, BBC Worldwide Productions, Bennett Farms, Bouchon Beverly Hills, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Coravin Wine Access System, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fess Parker Inn, Flight Deck, Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, Fred Segal Salon, French Reflections, The Geffen Playhouse, Daryle Ann and Mark Giardino, The Grammy Museum, Kinara Spa, The Kitchen For Exploring Foods, Knock, Knock, Sam Morano and Metropolitan Fine Arts, Montage Beverly Hills, The LA Opera, The Los Angeles Clippers, NBC’s The Voice, the NFL, Neiman Marcus, Lee Olvera, Christine Ofiesh, OPI, OSEA Malibu, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Plumleigh, Porto Via Beverly Hills, Poseidon Stand Up Paddleboards, Joel and Cheryl Prell, Rivera, The San Diego Chargers, SBE Restaurant Group, Stephen’s Hay and Grain, Total Wine and More, USC Athletics, WEN by Chaz Dean, Wilshire Dental Center.  Other event sponsors include Al and Diane Cabraloff, Greg and Gina Felikian, John and Dana Agamalian, Paul and Sandra Kalemkiarian (Wine of the Month Club), and K Chocolatier.

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