Journalists, actors, directors, and one legendary television writer were honored Tuesday night at the PEN Center USA literary awards in Beverly Hills.
Director Judd Apatow, “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, and journalist Glenn Greenwald all picked up awards at the 24th annual event.
Norman Lear, who created and wrote the massively influential television programs “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” among others, was honored with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Comedienne and author Amy Poehler was on hand to present the award to Lear, who quoted from his memoir and reiterated his commitment to literary freedom during his acceptance speech, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It is eternal vigilance,” Lear said while picking up his award. “The price that we pay for liberty.”
Apatow and Dunham won the best teleplay award for “Together,” an episode of “Girls.”
“I feel like Norman programmed my brain as a child with those shows,” Dunham said as she picked up her award. “I’ve just written a hotly debated literary memoir,” she added, referencing the recent controversy surrounding her new book, “Not That Kind of Girl.”
Meanwhile, journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras were honored with the organization’s First Amendment Award for their work covering Edward Snowden.
According to the PEN Center USA website, the award “honors men and women who have produced exceptional work in the face of extreme adversity, who have been punished for exercising their freedom of expression, or who have fought against censorship and defended the right to publish freely.”
Greenwald and Poitras did not attend the event, so their award was accepted for them by actor John Cusack and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who appeared via a live video feed.
“Laura’s film and Glenn’s work… comes out of a long struggle in the United States and other parts of the world to exercise free speech in the way that it must be to hold governments accountable,” Assange said in accepting the awards. “The most important act is simply to exercise it, to speak frankly and fairly… the only thing in the end that is capable of regulating the state and corporations is the cultural space outside of the government.”
Other winners at this year’s event included Vice Media, which received the Award of Honor for “pushing the boundaries of free speech” in journalism.
Jose Antonio Vargas, perhaps the country’s most well-known undocumented immigrant and activist, won the Freedom to Write award for his film, “Documented.”
The full list of winners can be seen on the PEN Center USA website.