The honor aims to highlight transformative works that inspire audiences in the same way that Nichols did throughout his career.
Kenneth Lonergan will receive the inaugural Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award, honoring the year’s best writing for performance, by PEN America, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The honor, bestowed by the writers’ organization for freedom of expression, aims to highlight transformative works that inspire audiences in the same way that comedian and filmmaker Nichols did throughout his career and up until his death in 2014. The award will be presented annually to honor Nichols’ legacy as a playwright, screenwriter and director, as well as his decades-long career that spanned a number of genres including comedy, drama, stage and film.
The recipient of the award will also be given a prize of $25,000 and will assume a unique place of prominence within PEN America’s preeminent national literary awards program.
Lonergan is best known for co-writing Gangs of New York (2002) and for writing and directing the films You Can Count On Me (2000), Margaret (2011) and Manchester by the Sea (2016).
Matthew Broderick, who is a longtime friend and collaborator of Lonergan’s, will present the award.
“We are thrilled to honor the indelible legacy of Mike Nichols and his transformative influence on American comedy, film and theatre,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel in a statement. “Kenneth Lonergan is a tailor-made inaugural honoree whose work pushes boundaries, breaks new thematic and artistic ground and has infected our culture in the best tradition of Mike Nichols.”
“The Literary Awards program is one of PEN America’s crown jewels,” added PEN America president Jennifer Egan. “With more and more writers working powerfully across genres, it’s a special joy to recognize performance as a literary form in partnership with Mike Nichols’ dear friend Lorne Michaels and the Nichols family.”
During his career, Nichols directed Broadway hits including Barefoot in the Park andThe Odd Couple. His directing credits in film include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate and Silkwood. Nichols is one of the 15 people to earn the highly coveted EGOT, which means he has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
Lonergan will receive the award during the PEN America Literary Awards ceremony Feb. 26 at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York.