CHRIS ALBERS AND TOM FONTANA TO RECEIVE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST RICHARD B. JABLOW AWARD

NEW YORK CITY–  Chris Albers and Tom Fontana have been selected to receive the Writers Guild of America, East’s (WGAE) Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted service to the Guild.  The award was created in honor of Richard B. Jablow, who helped found the WGAE, authored its constitution, and served as its first counsel. Albers and Fontana will receive their awards at the 61st Annual Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, February 7, 2009 at New York City’s Hudson Theatre.

Chris Albers served as president and Tom Fontana as vice president of the Writers Guild of America, East from 2005 – 2007. As a team, they were instrumental in bringing the Writers Guild, East and Writers Guild, West together, brokering the agreement that ended an extended period of hostility between the two unions. The guidelines established under this agreement ensured the unions would work as partners going forward.

“Chris Albers and Tom Fontana personify what the Jablow Award is about – service and dedication to the Writers Guild, East, and its membership. During their tenure as president and vice president, the two helped bring the Guild into the 21st century with a bold initiative to restore harmony and unity with our colleagues in the Writers Guild of America, West. This effort reaped enormous benefits during our 100-day strike when Chris and Tom, although officially out of office, continued to serve their union as strike captains, intermediaries, communicators and invaluable advisors,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East.

Individually, each also has contributed to the Guild. During Albers’ term as president, the WGAE was able to organize The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, which eventually led to the organizing of much of Comedy Central.  Prior to serving as president, Albers served on the WGAE Council and also headed its Organizing Committee.  He currently sits on the board of the WGAE Foundation. In addition to his leadership work at the WGAE, Albers has been a monologue writer at Late Night With Conan O’Brien since 1995. He has also written for Late Night With David Letterman, Late Show With David Letterman, The Jon Stewart Show, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, as well as numerous award shows and specials. He has won an Emmy Award for his writing on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and six Writers Guild Awards.

Tom Fontana is currently the president of the WGAE Foundation. In addition to his Guild work, Fontana has written and produced ground-breaking television series, such as St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life On The Street and Oz, for which he received three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers Guild Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, the Cable Ace Award the Humanitas Prize, a Special Edgar and the first prize at the Cinema Tout Ecran Festival in Geneva. He also wrote the HBO film Strip Search, contributed pieces to the September 11th special America: A Tribute To Heroes, and served as executive producer of American Tragedy, Shot In The Heart, the documentary The Press Secretary, and independent films Jean, In Good Conscience and Anytown USA. He is a past recipient of the WGAE’s Evelyn F. Burkey Award for lifetime achievement.

The Richard B. Jablow Award was established in 1978 to recognize devoted service to the Guild.  Past recipients have included: 2008 recipient Catherine Twohill, Gail Lee, Warren Leight, James Schamus, Ruth Gallo, John Auerbach, Stephen Schiff, Richard Wesley, Michael Winship, Herb Sargent, Edward Adler, Marc Siegel, Claire Labine, Jerome Coopersmith, Ernest Kinoy, Loring Mandel, and Ellen Violett. 

The 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2009 in New York City at the Hudson Theatre in the Millennium Broadway Hotel and simultaneously in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. For more information or to purchase tickets to the New York City awards, call 212-767-7800 or visit the WGAE website at www.wgaeast.org.

The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, new media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level.  For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org.