Mel Brooks has induced generations of fans to snort and giggle at his films, including The Producers, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles; he’s also part of a rare club of talented folks who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony, not to mention earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now the 86-year-old comic writer-director can add another honor to the list: an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.
Brooks, known for witticisms in both art and in life (think: “humor is just another defense against the universe”) will receive the award at a gala tribute in Los Angeles on June 6, 2013, the AFI announced on Friday. The event will be aired by TNT and Turner Classic Movies.
“Mel Brooks is America’s long-reigning king of comedy – and as he taught us long ago, it’s good to be the king,” said Sir Howard Stringer, chair of AFI’s board of trustees, in a press release. “He’s a master of an art form that rarely gets the respect it deserves, and it is AFI’s honor to shine a bright light on laughter by presenting Mel Brooks the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award.”
With his East Coast twang and down-to-earth face, Brooks — born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, N.Y. – has always unfurled his funniness in a blunt, no holds barred sort of way.
He won an Oscar for best original screenplay for his first feature film as a director, 1968′s Broadway satire The Producers, which he later turned into a musical. The production, for which he wrote the music and the lyrics, snatched up 12 Tonys. In the mid ’60s, he co-created the secret agent comedy Get Smart, which won multiple Emmys. He’s also nabbed three Grammys, including best musical show album for The Producers in 2001. He executive produced David Lynch’s 1980 drama The Elephant Man, and three of his earlier movies – The Producers, 1974′s Blazing Saddles, and 1974′s Young Frankenstein — rank among the top 15 films on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Laughs list.
Given Brooks’ resume, expect a slew of A-list folks — maybe The Producers alumni Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick? — to show up at his AFI gala next year. As Brooks once said, tongue firmly planted in cheek, “I have always been a huge admirer of my own work. I’m one of the funniest and most entertaining writers I know.”
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