Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Thursday January 15, 2009


NEW YORK CITY– Norman Stiles has been selected to receive the 2009 Writers Guild of America, East’s (WGAE) Herb Sargent Award For Comedy Excellence. The award is given to a writer who has shown excellence in comedy writing and who has inspired others through leadership and mentoring. Stiles will receive his award at the 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards ceremony held on Saturday, February 7, 2009 at New York City’s Hudson Theatre.


An award-winning writer, Stiles has elevated the level of comedy in children’s television and educational programming. He has spent much of his career on Sesame Street, bringing a comic subtlety and sophistication that has engaged generations of children and parents around the world. As the show’s head writer, he guided the writing of more than 2,000 scripts, supervised a staff of 15-20 writers, and helped conceive and supervise the development of characters, such as Elmo, Count Von Count, Forgetful Jones, Sonny Friendly, H. Ross Parrot, Placido Flamingo, Telly Monster, The Amazing Mumford, and Zoe. He also consulted on international co-productions of the show, authored or co-authored many Sesame Street books, and wrote or co-wrote many Sesame Street songs.


Stiles’ credits also span the comedy/variety and episodic comedy genres. He was a writer for Merv Griffin’s Late Night, a co-creator with Mel Brooks of When Things Were Rotten, and a writer and an executive on Norman Lear’s Fernwood 2-Night and America 2-Night. He also wrote for The Captain and Tennille, The Bad News Bears and Frankie Avalon’s summer show.


In 1996, Stiles co-founded Sirius Thinking Ltd., an educational entertainment company, which created Between The Lions, a program co-produced with WGBH and designed to teach reading to children ages 4-7. He is currently co-creator and co-executive producer of the program, as well as creator and producer of the new children’s music education show Lomax, The Hound Of Music, airing on PBS.


Stiles has won 12 Emmy awards for his work on Sesame Street and Between The Lions, and a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming and two Parent’s Choice Awards for his work on Between The Lions.


“With his creative flair for comedy and his support of young writers as they learn the ropes of this often difficult business, Norman Stiles is a most deserving recipient of this award, named after a past Guild president whose reputation as both wit and mentor is legend,” says Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East.


The Herb Sargent Award For Comedy Excellence was created in 2006 in honor of Sargent, who was president of the Writers Guild of America, East for 14 years until his death on May 6, 2005. The Herb Sargent Award For Comedy Excellence is awarded to a writer who embodies the spirit, commitment, and comic genius of Herb Sargent. A legendary writer and television producer, Sargent’s credentials included being a writer/producer of Saturday Night Live for more than 20 years, writing the screenplay of Bye Bye Braverman, television specials for Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, Perry Como, Sammy Davis Jr., Alan King, Paul McCartney, Lily Tomlin, and Burt Bacharach, as well as extensive work in radio in the 1940s before moving to television. Lorne Michaels and James L. Brooks are past recipients of this award.


The 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2009 in New York City at the Hudson Theatre in the Millennium Broadway Hotel and simultaneously in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. For more information or to purchase tickets to the New York City awards ceremony, call 212-767-7812 or visit the WGAE website at


The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, new media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level.  For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit

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