The prizes, announced by PEN USA executive director Adam Somers, honor outstanding work by writers in ten separate genres. They will be presented at the 18th annual gala Dec. 3 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.
In the Drama category, Shem Bitterman is a 2008 PEN winner for the play Harm's Way (Circus Theatricals Foundation).
"In a salute to the range of his accomplishments in multiple genres, award-winning television writer, screenwriter, playwright and author," two-time Tony Award winner Gelbart will received the PEN career award from award-winning writer and producer Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing," "Charlie Wilson's War," "A Few Good Men").
In a career lasting over 60 years, Gelbart is well-known for his Oscar-nominated screenplays for "Tootsie" and "Oh, God!," as well as his book for the classic Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with Burt Shevelove) and City of Angels, and his role in the creation and development of the television series "M*A*S*H."
TNT and Michael Wright, senior vice president of content creation for TNT, TBS and TCM will receive the Award of Honor, "given each year to a person, group or institution whose efforts have had a meaningful impact on writers in our culture."
The award will be presented in acknowledgement of the original programming aired by TNT shows such as "Saving Grace," "The Closer" and "Raising the Bar."
The evening's First Amendment Award, "given to men and women who have taken a stand on behalf of the right to free expression, even at possible risk to their careers, including the right to be fairly compensated for their work," will be presented to the Writers Guild of America, West.
The award will be accepted by Patric M. Verrone, president of the WGA, West and John F. Bowman, WGA 2007-2008 negotiating committee chair.
Recipients of the literary awards were chosen by a distinguished panel of writers, editors and journalists. Winners were selected from among more than 500 entries. Each winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize presented at the Literary Awards Gala.
For more information, visit PENUSA.org.