Angie Award


In March of 2007, my writing partner, Lance Rucker, called and told me that our screenplay Albatross was a finalist at the International Mystery Writers Festival.

“The what?”

“The International Mystery Writer’s Festival. It’s in Owensboro, Kentucky, about two hours east of Louisville.”

Being a native of Kentucky, he pronounces his hometown “LOU-a-vul.” Don’t dare say “LOU-ee-ville” around Lance if you want to keep your dignity and front teeth intact.

“Owensboro?” I said. “Never heard of it. Can’t be much.”

“Shut up, google it, and call me back.”

Half an hour later, I was impressed. The people behind the festival were Angela Lansbury (yes, that Angela Lansbury), her agent, Biff Liff from the William Morris Agency, and a retired Broadway producer named Zev Buffman. Buffman, with 42 Broadway productions to his credit and 27 Tony nominations between them, was the pointman. He had semi-retired to Owensboro where he now runs the RiverPark Center, a performing arts center. One day at lunch the three of them were despairing over the dearth of new mysteries being written for the stage and screen; they came up wth the idea of the festival and it fell to Buffman to make it happen. Lansbury lent her name to the award and the Angie Awards were born.

Not a bed pedigree, I thought.

Screenplays, we learned, were to be produced as live “radio plays” in front of a live audience in the tradition of the old Lux Radio Theater. (You’re either old enough to remember or you’re not.) Next, we found out the David Ossman, one of the members of the Firesign Theater (You’re either old enough....), was going to create the audio adaptation of Albatross and direct. We nearly fell over each other with excitement. Both of us were great fans of the Firesign troupe during its 60s heyday.

When we got to Owensboro, we found that another Firesign member, Philip Proctor was playing seven different roles in the performance, his lovely wife Melinda Petersen was our leading lady, and our star was triple-Emmy Winner Harry Anderson (Night Court, Dave’s World).

At the first performance in June of 2007, even I cried at the end. That’s when I thought it might really work. When the actors came up to me afterwards and asked me to sign their scripts, I was even more amazed; I’d already seen the other four screenplays and that had not happened at any of them. At the second of the three performances, we got the only standing ovation of the entire 2007 festival.

But it wasn’t until Columbo creator William Link said the magic words, “The Angie goes to ... Albatross,” that I was able to relax.

We met the governor. We met mystery novelist Sue Grafton. We got congratulated all night. Now that I could do again.

(See the “Travel Photos” link for more photos of the 2007 Angie Awards.)

At the 2008 awards, we were minor celebrities. We weren’t just nominees, we were winners

We met Gene Hackman. We hung out a bit with CSI creator Anthony Zuicker. We gave a workshop. (The attendance, by the way, was no better than 2007 when we were just nominees. Sic transit gloria mundi.)

But the most fun of all was getting to give out the 2008 award. Here it is:


2007 Angie Award Winners for Best New Screenplay, Lance Rucker and Timothy Perrin

or How to Write an Award-Winning
Screenplay and Hang with the A-List