Dick Cavett Set As Recipient Of WGA East’s Evelyn F. Burkey Award

Dick Cavett has been named as the recipient of Writers Guild of America, East’s Evelyn F. Burkey Award for 2022. Late Night’s Seth Meyers will present the late night host, comedian and writer with the honor at the virtual WGA Awards ceremony taking place on March 20.

The award, recognizing someone who has brought honor and dignity to writers, was established in 1978 to honor Burkey, who dedicated her professional life to supporting writers, helping to create the Writers Guild of America, East in 1954, and serving as its executive director until her retirement in 1972. Past recipients include James Schamus, Edward Albee, Walter Bernstein, Joan Didion, Claire Labine, Walter Cronkite, Arthur Miller, Sidney Lumet and Martin Scorsese.

“Thank you to the Writers Guild of America, East for honoring me with the Evelyn F. Burkey Award,” said Cavett. “I am very grateful to receive this distinguished award from my union and want to thank all the people, throughout my career, who have helped me create television that we aimed to make socially relevant, conversationally enlightening, and eye-opening fun.”

Cavett is a three-time Emmy winner who has been a member of the Guild since 1961. He launched his career as a writer on The Tonight Show, through the period in which Jack Paar and Johnny Carson hosted, then going on to write for The Jerry Lewis Show. He wrote and hosted the special Where It’s At, produced by Bud Sorkin and Norman Lear, in 1966—and two years later was hired by ABC to host This Morning, which was later renamed The Dick Cavett Show, moving to primetime and then to late night.

The Dick Cavett Show is remembered for breaking new ground in late-night television, reinventing the formula to give space for counter-culture figures to appear before mainstream audiences. Throughout his time as host, he placed a spotlight on such writers as Alfred Hitchcock, John Cassavetes, Ingmar Bergman, Norman Mailer, Mort Sahl, Mel Brooks, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Steve Martin, Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, Agnes Nixon, Neil Simon, Buck Henry, Carl Reiner, Dick Gregory, Gene Wilder, George Carlin, George Plimpton, Woody Allen, Harold Ramis, Norman Lear, Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Pryor, Robert Towne, Spike Lee, Marshall Brickman, Terry Gilliam, Nora Ephron, Frank Capra and Joel and Ethan Coen, among many others.

Landmark episodes of the series included one presented as Groucho Marx’s one-man show, a post-Woodstock Festival episode with Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, and Judy Collins’ famously censored appearance where she openly talked about being a defense witness at the Chicago Seven trial. As perhaps the most prominent TV star of his time to use his platform to speak out against the Vietnam War, Cavett famously brought on future Senator and war hero John Kerry to debate President Nixon’s pro-war spokesperson John O’Neill.

The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, news (broadcast and digital), radio/audio, and promotional categories. Comedian, writer and actress Ashley Nicole Black (A Black Lady Sketch Show) will serve as host of this year’s ceremony.

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