Five writers were selected as recipients of the 1999 Don and Gee Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy Foundation. Each was awarded $25,000 and honored at a gala dinner on November 17, 1999 as part of the the prestigious fellowship award. Marc Norman, who co-wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay of "Shakespeare in Love," was the event's keynote speaker.
Final judging for the competition was done by the Nicholl Committee, chaired by writer Fay Kanin and comprised of writers John Gay, Hal Kanter, Dan Petrie Jr., Frank Pierson, Tom Rickman and Daniel Taradash, cinematographer John Bailey, editor Mia Goldman, actor Eva Marie Saint, producers Gale Anne Hurd and Peter Samuelson, director Robert E. Wise and agent Ronald Mardigian. Saint, Goldman, Rickman, Hurd and Mardigian introduced this year's Fellows at the dinner.
The Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting were established in 1985. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000 or received a fellowship or prize that includes a "first look" clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer's work.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during the fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl Fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts
This year's competition drew 4,150 entries from 48 states, the District of Columbia and 26 countries. Since the program's inception, a total of 58 fellowships have been presented and several recipients have gone on to successful careers in screenwriting. Two of last year's Fellows, Robert Humphrey Gyde of Brooklyn and Michael Rich of Portland, Oregon, sold their entry scripts within months of being announced as winners in the competition. Allison Anders (a 1986 Fellow) saw her new film, "Sugar Town," premiere earlier in the year at the Sundance Film Festival; her past credits include "Gas Food Lodging," "Mi Vida Loca" and "Grace of My Heart." 1996 Fellow Ehren Kruger's "Arlington Road," "Reindeer Games" and "Scream 3," were released. "End of Days," written by 1992 Fellow Andrew Marlowe, also was released. Susannah Grant (a 1992 Fellow) wrote last year's "Ever After: A Cinderella Story," and also had writing credit on Disney's "Pocahontas." "Down in the Delta," written by 1993 Fellow Myron Goble, was released and Mark Lowenthal's "Where the Elephant Sits" received its world premiere at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival; Lowenthal was a 1989 Fellow.