The Kieser Award was created in 2002 in honor of Fr. Ellwood “Bud” Kieser, C.S.P., a priest and producer who founded The HUMANITAS Prize, an annual award for television and feature film writers whose work not only entertains, but also enriches the viewing public.


The Kieser Award is a lifetime achievement award given to a writer whose body of work examines what it means to be a fully realized human being in a world struggling with deeply entrenched social issues like racism, sexism and ageism–and a multitude of other societal ills. This award goes to a writer whose work is both entertaining and uplifting, with stories that are beautifully crafted and characters who speak to our deepest selves. It was founded in honor of Fr. Bud Kieser, who had a prescient sense of the incredible power and reach of media. He passionately believed film and television should be tools for positive social change. That is why he created HUMANITAS 44 years ago.

Kieser Award Winners

The good news is, after thirty plus years in television, I finally understand something that I hope has meaning for you too — especially for you young writers. It doesn’t matter whether I claim the word “writer” or not. I simply am one. I make stuff up. That’s what I do. Then other people say that stuff, and still more people film it. And, at the end of the day, I get to say “I wrote that.”
— Marta Kauffman
We must search after the deepest, sometimes darkest, of human truths by pen, by camera, by whisper, by shout, regardless of red or blue, or black or white, and bring them into the light now. Never, never, never, never more than now.
— John Sacret Young
This is 2016. We don’t need diversity, we need to get real. We need to get real in terms of our perspectives, our depictions, and perceptions of what constitutes mainstream entertainment. I never thought about the stories I told as being Black American history or Asian American history—this is our history, these are our stories. And I think with films, like RED TAILS or 12 YEARS A SLAVE, there are moments where you can see the impact of telling stories that are reflective.
— John Ridley
The decision to put the story [of my son’s autism] into the pilot of PARENTHOOD was terrifying on many levels. Over the life of the series, I have been continually approached by people who have been deeply affected by this story. To write about the most vulnerable thing in my life not only changed the course of what the show PARENTHOOD would become, but has forever changed me as a writer.
— Jason Katims
Life is a continuing course in adult education and media can dignify life instead of debasing it, and in the vast cornucopia of popular culture, someone has to cultivate a garden here and there, where people can be touched by the beauty of ideas, of honest emotions, something authentic—possibly to experience a small miracle in the soul.
— Bill Moyers
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A young writer once told me a producer rejected one of her projects as too soft to engage the audience’s interest. Never accept that, I told her, it’s nonsense. Soft is what drama is all about. Soft is about character, about those moments between people that make your story live because they recognize themselves. Soft is why you’re a writer. It seems she went back to her room and began to write something she’d been warned wasn’t commercial but that she knew in her heart was a story that needed to be told. It was optioned, set up at a studio and was the beginning of her screenwriting career. And her first produced film, Frida, came out last year.
— Fay Kanin
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Television delights when it throws light into the darkness that surrounds us, helping to see who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing with these lives of ours. It gives enjoyment when it feeds and stretches minds, invites our imaginations to take a romp. Stirs hearts with challenge, and warms with compassion. The only way we can protect our children is to teach them to recognize and to discriminate between evil and mischief, to know how to react and how to think. To teach them how to deal with problems when they meet them. To be aware and alert and knowledgeable and smart and discriminating. HUMANITAS believes that is what television should do. Not deny reality but show us how to deal with it.
— Frank Pierson
We need writers to be the smartest men and women in town, we need you to have a vision and a compelling idea, we need you to embrace the paradoxes of the world with truth and integrity, we need you to surprise and delight the audience intellectually and emotionally, and above all we need you to hold us accountable – accountable for those moral transactions of which we are a part…so that when you entrust us with your time and talent, you also challenge and compel us to give something valuable back to the audience – to help seek the truth with passion.
— Colin Callender
Given our present-day moral meltdown—a time when the extreme is the norm, virtue has been rendered quaint, shock is a distant memory and shame is on the endangered emotions list—it is nothing short of miraculous that, against all odds, we are assembled to celebrate a select group of artists who show us who we are, who we were and, without question, certainly who and what we might try one day to be again.
— Larry Gelbart
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Television presents, informs, entertains, invites, and shapes the images that become part of the thinking and feeling of the viewer. And so, for the television writer, there is a most serious responsibility, a sacred responsibility if you will, to create images of the world and the human person that humanize rather than destroy. Writers can uplift, inspire, encourage, and give some path of light in an often confusing and threatening world. Or, writers can present a vision of the world that prompts the viewer to bitterness, resentment, dulled passivity, total confusion or final despair. In short, you have the power to create a vision that instills life, or leads to a form of death.
— Arthur Hiller