A (Dinner) Prayer for Film & TV Writers via the Humanitas Prize

A couple of  Saturdays ago I received a call from Soozie Eastman, Director of Programs for the  Humanitas Prize. For the second year I was going to be one of the script readers to decide on which ones will receive this prestigious award trophy and cash prize. All the readers for television and film scripts were having dinner together that evening to pick up the parcels and share some inspiration. Soozie asked me to say grace.

I thought I would share this on my blog so that everyone could join in prayer to support the good work of the Humanitas Prize and to support film and television writers who seek to explore the human condition and promote human dignity in the stories they tell.

Paulist Father Elwood “Bud” Kieser (1929 – 2000) founded the he HUMANITAS Prize in 1974 “to celebrate television programs which affirm the dignity of the human person, explore the meaning of life, enlighten the use of human freedom and reveal to 
each person our common humanity.” You may remember Fr. Kieser as the producer of the films Romero(1989), Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996) and the “Insight” series (1960 -1983) for television.

I accepted Soozie’s invitation and did a search for “dinner grace” and guess what came up? A link sponsored by Target that wanted to sell me the DVD  Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. That’s appropriate, I thought, since the readers come from various cultural and faith background.  But since Target wasn’t giving anything up on the prayer front, I decided to draw on my favorite cinema genre for inspiration: food movies.

Here is my prayer:

Dear God, come and be with us as we gather here from our Places in the Heart , at a restaurant that is a step above a Diner  , to  East and Drink as Men and Women  , let us be kind to the Waitress , enjoy Tortilla Soup,  Ratatouille  , or the  Mystic dimensions of Pizza ,  or whatever we choose; bless this Feast and those who prepared it with the generosity and totally outpouring of self of a Babette; may it to become Soul Food,  that will give us strength to confront the ducks in our lives as Julie&Julia Child admonished us; help us make this a Big Night for writers and all creative people, knowing that , as Primo said in the film, “to eat good food is to know God”. May this meal be capped by just a little  Chocolat as we begin the Humanitas Prize process once again this year with  No Reservations.   And whether we are  Mostly Marthas  or Marios, give us the grace to slow down and savor the fruits of the labors of these writers to choose the very best stories.

Thank you Lord for your blessings! Bless us, bless this food, and no Sideways Bottle Shock please – and be with us always!

(Here is an article about Humanitas director Cathleen Young  and the Humanitas New Voices initiative written by Neely Swanson in the WGA journal “Written By”; click on “Cathleen Young”)

Cathleen Young, director of the Humanitas organization, Brian Oppenheimer and Barbara Gangi, screenwriters, at the dinner to launch the Humanitas Prize process for 2011. Photo courtesy of Frederic Charpenier

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