nicholl timeline - Nicholl Timeline
Gee Nicholl and Julian Blaustein met with the Academy’s then-Executive Director Jim Roberts and then-Executive Administrator Bruce Davis to discuss the development of a program that would aid new screenwriters. That program ultimately became the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
The first Nicholl fellowships are awarded to Allison Anders, Dennis Clontz, and Jeff Eugenides at a reception held in the Academy’s Grand Lobby. In the initial year of competition, the 99 entrants were not required to submit screenplays; they could submit a screenplay, a teleplay, a TV series episode, fiction or a stageplay. The competition was limited to California college students.
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships expanded eligibility to include college students in nine states and to residents of Texas.
Eligibility was expanded again to include all United States residents who had not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay.
Rules for judging were modified to: EARLY ROUNDS – paid, professional readers narrow thousands of entries to the top five percent which are then passed onto the quarterfinal round. QUARTERFINAL ROUND – Academy members volunteer to select the semifinal scripts – less than half are passed to the next round. In 2002, as the number of entries continued to rise, paid, professional readers replaced Academy readers in the Quarterfinal round. Readers do not read the same scripts round to round. SEMIFINAL ROUND – Academy members volunteer their time to select the 10 finalist scripts, which are presented to the Nicholl Fellowship Committee. FINALISTS – In October, the Nicholl Fellowship Committee meets for a lengthy and spirited discussion to select up to five winning scripts. Often committee members champion their favorites and dismiss the scripts they did not appreciate. It’s quite common for one member’s frontrunner to leave another member cold.
At a meeting of the Nicholl Committee, former Academy president Robert Wise declared that “the best parties have chairs.” The committee and Gee Nicholl agreed and the ceremony became an awards dinner. The first Nicholl Dinner was held at Chasen’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. Eligibility was expanded to include international entrants writing in English who had not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay. Radha Bharadwaj, a 1989 fellow, becomes the first fellow to have her Nicholl entry script released as a feature film. “Closet Land” opened in March 1991.
Dennis Clontz received a Pulitzer prize for spot journalism as part of the Los Angeles Times team reporting on the Northridge earthquake.
At the encouragement of then-Nicholl Committee Chair Gale Anne Hurd, the Academy began inviting finalists as well as fellows to participate in Nicholl Awards week festivities.
Susannah Grant, a 1992 fellow, earned an Academy Award nomination for her original screenplay “Erin Brockovich.”
Nicholl eligibility was expanded to include writing teams (of exactly 2).
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