by Team TVWriter™ Press Service
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has named The Simpsons co-developer, Emmy-winning television writer, director, producer, and philanthropist Sam Simon as its 2014 Valentine Davies Award honoree in recognition of his humanitarian efforts and community service on behalf of writers. Simon will be feted, along with other honorees, at the WGAW’s 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.
“The work of Sam Simon’s life has entertained and humbled us, in equal measure. And while this Guild has often honored his wit and skill, today we honor his generosity and love – his understanding that we are, in the end, all caretakers of each other. Sam has dedicated himself to the cause of at-risk animals and people who have no other protector. A friend to them, he has become an inspiration to us, his grateful colleagues,” said WGAW President Chris Keyser.
A Writers Guild, West member since 1980, in November Simon also received the WGAW’s Animation Writers Caucus (AWC) 16th Annual Animation Writing Award, a lifetime achievement honor recognizing his contributions to the craft of animation writing.
Well-known within the entertainment industry for his major philanthropic efforts to aid animals and humans alike, Simon is the founder of The Sam Simon Foundation, whose mission is to “save the lives of dogs to enrich the lives of people.” The Foundation’s Assistance Dog Program adopts at-risk dogs facing death in shelters and trains them as certified assistance dogs, which are placed, free of charge, as companions to aid the deaf and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Simon’s Foundation also operates a highly successful Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic, L.A.’s largest provider of free spay and neuter services, which once a week also provides low-income L.A. residents with free surgery needed for their pets.
In 2011, Simon also founded The Sam Simon Foundation: Feeding Families program, a mobile vegan food bank initiative which currently feeds 400 unemployed families each day. Characterized by his generosity and compassion for others, none of Simon’s own civic and charitable Foundations accept outside donations and are funded solely by Simon himself.
Simon continues to serve on the National Boards of international non-profit Save the Children and animal rights advocate PETA, which recently thanked him by naming its own Norfolk, VA headquarters The Sam Simon Center in February. In 2012, he donated his own ship – the Sam Simon – to Captain Paul Watson’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a global marine conversation organization which combats illegal whaling and fishing around the globe.
Having been creatively involved with The Simpsons (Created by Matt Groening, Developed by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening and Sam Simon) since the animated series’ inception in 1989, Simon co-wrote nearly a dozen Simpsons episodes during his tenure on the show, also serving as co-showrunner and character designer. After departing the series in 1993, he retained an Executive Producer credit for nearly 500 episodes over the series’ nearly 25-year run, making it the longest-running scripted primetime TV series of all time. Named “the 20th century’s best series” by Time Magazine and having received numerous industry accolades over the years, The Simpsons earned a #11 rank on the WGA’s own 101 Best Written TV Series list announced this past summer.
A nine-time Emmy winner and 22-time Emmy nominee, Simon has shared seven Emmy Awards for The Simpsons (Outstanding Animated Program for Programming Less Than One Hour in 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1991, 1990) and two Emmys for his work on The Tracey Ullman Show (Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Program in 1989 and Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program in 1990), as well as sharing multiple Emmy nominations for his work on Fox’s Ullman show (Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program, 1987, -88, -89), in addition to sharing Emmy nominations for his work on the comedy TV series It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, for the episode “Angelica II aka It’s Garry and Angelica’s Show”), Cheers (Outstanding Comedy Series, 1985), and Taxi (Outstanding Comedy Series, 1983), for which he served as showrunner at age 24. He has also received a Peabody Award for his work, as well as earned a 1986 WGA Episodic Comedy nomination for penning the Cheers episode “Fairy Tales Can Come True.”
Simon’s live-action TV writing-producing credits include The Drew Carey Show (executive producer, 1998-2003), The George Carlin Show (creator/executive producer, 1994-95), The Tracey Ullman Show (executive producer, 1988-1990), Cheers (1984-85), and Taxi (1982-83). Simon’s additional TV writing or co-writing credits include co-creating Phenom (Created by Dick Blasucci & Marc Flanagan & Sam Simon) and penning episodes for Barney Miller, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and Shaping Up, which he co-created with Ken Estrin. Simon’s screenwriting credits include the 1991 feature film comedy The Super.
Behind the camera, Simon has also directed episodes of such hit TV sitcoms as Anger Management, Friends, The Drew Carey Show, Norm, Men Behaving Badly, and The George Carlin Show. In front of the camera, Simon, a champion poker player, hosted his own poker reality series, Sam’s Game, which aired on Playboy TV, in addition to winning many tournaments and seven cash prizes at the World Series of Poker. During his side career as a boxing manager, Simon managed World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Lamon Brewster and was named “2004 Manager of the Year” by the World Boxing Organization.
Born on June 6, 1955, Simon grew up in Beverly Hills and Malibu, California. While studying at Stanford University, he landed his first job as a sports newspaper cartoonist at The San Francisco Chronicle and The San Francisco Examiner. After graduating from Stanford, Simon became a storyboard artist – and later an animation writer – at Filmation Studios, his first entry into the world of TV animation, working on such animated TV shows as The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle and Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids.
The WGAW’s Valentine Davies Award honors Guild members whose humanitarian efforts and service have brought dignity and honor to writers everywhere. Past Valentine Davies recipients include Phil Alden Robinson, Norman Lear, Neal Baer, Larry Gelbart, Tom Schulman, Carl Reiner, Victoria Riskin, Seth Freeman, Susannah Grant, and Phil Rosenthal.