Thomas S. Cook set to receive WGA West’s Big Humanitarian Award

by Team TVWriter™ New Service

Tom CookThe Writers Guild of America, West has named the late OscarTM and Emmy-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning writer Thomas S. Cook as its 2014 Morgan Cox Award honoree in recognition of his Guild service. The WGAW’s honorary award will be presented posthumously to Cook at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE.

“Tom was a beloved member of this Guild, renowned both for the remarkable work he produced and for his unending commitment to give something of himself back. His service touched on every corner of our mission and lasted over three wonderful decades. Even in his final days, as a Trustee of our Health and Pension Fund, he never forgot the needs of his fellow writers, and we, in turn, will never forget him,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 25, 1947, Cook passed away on January 5, 2013 at his home in Hollywood after a battle with cancer at age 65. He is survived by his wife, Monique de Varennes, his children, Kate and Chris; his mother, Betty; and his brothers, Jim and Bill.

T. S. Cook was best known for co-writing the screenplay for 1979’s nuclear power thriller The China Syndrome (Written by Mike Gray & T.S. Cook and James Bridges), for which he shared Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA screenplay nominations, as well as received a Writers Guild Award for Original Drama – Screen.

A Writers Guild, West member since 1975, prolific writer Cook penned numerous telefilms and television series over the past four decades. His TV movie writing or co-writing credits include Red Flag: The Ultimate Game (1981), for which he received a 1982 WGA nomination for Television: Anthology Drama – Original, Attack on Fear (1982, Based on the book The Light on Synanon by Dave Mitchell, Cathy Mitchell, and Richard Ofshe), Out of the Darkness (1985), Nightbreaker (1989, Based in part on Atomic Soldiers by Howard Rosenberg), for which Cook received a Writers Guild Award for Original Long Form; High Desert Kill (1989, Teleplay by T.S. Cook, Story by Mike Marvin and Darnell Fry), In the Line of Duty: Street War(1992, Based on the New York Daily News magazine article “Living Large” by Mark Kriegel), The Switch (1992, Teleplay by T.S. Cook, Story by T.S. Cook & Ron Schultz), Texas Justice (1994, Based on the book Blood Will Tell by Gary Cartwright),The Tuskegee Airmen (1995, Teleplay by Trey Ellis and Ron Hutchinson and Paris Qualles, Story by T.S. Cook and Robert Williams), for which he shared an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Special; Forgotten Sins(1995, Based on magazine articles by Lawrence Wright), a small-screen remake of Western classic High Noon (2000, Teleplay by Carl Foreman and T.S. Cook, Based on the screenplay High Noon by Carl Foreman and the magazine story “The Tin Star” by John W. Cunningham), the Lucille Ball biopic Lucy (2003, Written by Katie Ford and T.S. Cook), The Hive(2007), and NYC: Tornado Warning (2008). Cook’s TV series writing or co-writing credits include Airwolf, The Paper Chase,and Baretta, as well as the hard-hitting TV movie Scared Straight: Another Story (1980).

An active Guild member and tenacious advocate for writers over the course of his career, Cook served on the WGAW’s Board of Directors (1995-97), and was a strike captain during the WGA’s 1988 and 2007-08 strikes. He also served on several WGAW committees, including Board Nominating (1991, 2008), Officers Nominating (1989, 2007), Election Review (2011-13), Committee on Professional Status of Writers [CPSW – Television, 1997-2002), Publications (1981-86), Television Writers Council (1999-2002), Strike Fund (1988), Strike Planning and Service (1989), Waiver (1995-2002), and Writers Image Campaign (1996-97). From 2006 through 2013, Cook served as a Pension & Health Trustee, first as an alternate trustee from 2006-11, then as a principal P&H trustee until his death.

Cook also served on the Writers Guild Foundation’s Board of Directors for several terms (1998-2007), as well as acted as Treasurer (2002-06) and chair of the WGF’s Oral History Committee.

In recent years, Cook turned his energies to play writing. He was a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, a co-founder of Fierce Backbone Theatre Company, and a board member of the latter from 2007 until the onset of his illness. Among a number of productions, his play “Ravensridge” had its world premiere at the Fremont Centre Theatre in 2007.

The Morgan Cox Award honors that WGAW member whose vital ideas, continuing efforts, and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the Guild. Previous recipients include George Kirgo, Del Reisman, Frank Pierson, Carl Gottlieb, Patric M. Verrone, and Daniel Petrie, Jr. During his lifetime, the late Cox devoted his professional career to serving the Guild, working to ensure that television writers were included under WGA jurisdiction.