No, this isn’t the Oscars, but something much more important: the announcement of the winners of the first Save the Cat! Competition of 2009! Our judges have reviewed the 1600+ entries (whew!) and the envelopes are in my hand. But before I reveal their contents, let me say with sincerity: You won just by entering. Not only do we have the most brilliant wordsmiths on the planet in evidence as our readership, we also have some true geni.

For those of you who went off the map and sacrificed your entry to display amazing creativity (such as RJ Unspammed’s brilliant Quarantino rap, 1400.), kissing up to yours truly with some zany hilarity (CraZRick’s 207. Blade re-do and Avixal’s 1550. Catman were my faves), or who just put their punning skills to work for fun, your effort is its own reward! Every time my iPhone pinged with a new entry I started giggling like Pavlov’s Better Humored Dog. And when you had ones like Caroline Kozaka’s PMS superhero Puffy The Vampire Slayer waiting — how could I not? I always wanted 1600 witty friends — and now I have them!

But we must choose. The criteria for picking a winner among our six judge panel was simple: 1. You had to follow the rules (listening to instructions is the first step of any writing assignment). Asked to swap out one letter from a well-known movie title and write the logline this substitution suggested eliminated many. 2. Your logline had to have pith — single, short sentences with an ironic twist worked best. This is the ultimate elevator pitch! A “wax on/wax off ” exercise to improve our logline skills. Yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those entries that tickled us for other reasons.

Some of the movie loglines could be movies in themselves, including Amy G’s  93. Three Zen and A Baby, Rob M’s 191. It’s a Wonderful Wife, Jeff S’s 338. Ferrris Bueller’s Lay Off, Alex Tucker’s 1382.The Tank Job ( I actually think this is a James Garner movie, or am I just having flashbacks?), and Jim Endecott’s very funny afterthought in 308. Having Private Ryan. I also like the idea of an environmental action sequel to his star’s first film in Hunter’s 437. Gore In Sixty Seconds.

There were lots of close calls, too, puns that were brilliant yet just missed the cut, such as Tony Gangemi’s 23.  All About Ewe, Scott W’s 157 Top Gut, Bkos’s 176. Bling Blade, David Ball’s 298. Soy Story, Michelle’s 90. Da Cinci Code, Ian Blanche’s 821. The Truth About Cars and Dogs (Ha!), and Al Rodriguez’s 841. Se6en.

Highest batting average (those most likely to make us laugh) is shared by Makya Macbee and Mike K., who had the consisitently funniest entries; if these guys aren’t working as table writers somewhere, they should be.  Makya’s 780. Rosemary’s Babe, 785. Honey, I Shrunk The Kims, and 1569. He’s Just Not That Into Lou and Mike K.’s 827. Titonic, and my guilty pleasure favorite 837. Ghostbutters, are all just about as funny, and short (are we seeing a pattern here?) as it gets.

And dedicated to those whose entries mysteriously vanished due to a spam filter, let this be a tribute to die-hard efforts by such as Aaron Silverman and Glen Miller, whose puns refused to stick. It has no number because it disappeared, but in honor of the MIA this is our make-good: Jeffery Hugh Wilson’s The Wizard Of Of — “Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her with her stuttering.”

But now the winners, those that kept coming back like any catchy pitch as best by our judges. We decided to note all below as the 10 Honorable Mentions and throw them into a hat from which to draw our three top winners (this will also stop the torch-wielding mob from tarring and feathering moi — always a good move!) The Honorable Mentions and ultimate lucky winners include:

Eric  1368. Into the Mild – Disillusioned with his life and his materialistic parents, a young man runs away to live in the city park down the street.

Bradford Richardson 97. Batmun – A laid-back Rastafarian crime fighter by night. A peace, love and understanding Reggae superstar by day.

Paul Teolis 74.  Lawrence of Awabia – A sweeping epic about the real life adventures of British Major E.J. Fudd and his journey throught the desert of Awabia to fight the Turks and unite the Awab empire.

Killertv 31. Lie Hard —  When terrorists seize the building and take everyone hostage, an out-of-town cop evades capture and must save his ex-wife with his fast talking skills, which ironically led to the divorce in the first place.

David Schults 80. The Pursuit of Happiness — A lonely, miserable, cat-loving proofreader sets out to show the world that the Will Smith box-office smash had a misspelled title, only to discover that she completely missed the point of the movie.

Mike K. 833. The Sixth Tense — A deceased English teacher haunts his former students with new grammar parts.

Muffin MacGuffin 109. Annie Hill — A neurotic New Yorker has an ill-fated romance with the daughter of a British comedian.

And the awards for the best — by luck of the draw — are:

Third Prize and winner of a complete set of Save the Cat! books and software: Nicholas Horwood 768. Dial N For Murder — A dyslexic telephone engineer suspects his wife is plotting to bill him.

Second Prize and winner of a spot in an upcoming LA Beats Weekend:  Makya McBee 814. Thank You For Smoting — High-paid lobbyist to God convinces DC to recognize the political importance of the religious right.

First prize and winner of a script read and one-hour consultation:  Bill Weinberger’s 1389. Dr. So  — Only James Bond can stop a mad scientist who plans to take over the world by infecting teenagers with exasperating indifference.

Our heartiest and grateful congratulations to you all!