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'Blazing Saddles,' 40 years later: A conversation with Mel Brooks -- EXCLUSIVE

When Mel Brooks demands a harumph, you give Mel Brooks a harumph.

Harumph, harumph, harumph!

After all, he’s carving time out of his day to speak about Blazing Saddles, the delirious western that is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special edition Blu-ray, out May 6. Time is of the essence: “I have people coming in to give me awards,” Brooks jokes. “Every 45 minutes, roughly, someone will knock on my door and give me the United Jewish something or other. I always get an award every day, some kind of award.”

Well, it’s good to be the king. And Mel Brooks has worn the crown well since Blazing Saddles, since The Producers, since Get Smart, since writing for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. But Blazing Saddles might be his zaniest movie ever, which is saying something. In 1874, a mustache-twirling villain (Harvey Korman) wants the valuable land that belongs to the white residents of Rock Ridge, so he names a black railroad worker who’s scheduled to be hanged (Cleavon Little) as their new sheriff. His plan backfires when the charming sheriff pairs up with a pickled old gunfighter (Gene Wilder), winning over the hearts, minds, and loins of the simple folk. READ FULL STORY

Mel Brooks basks in love and jokes at AFI Life Achievement Award event

Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman never worked with Mel Brooks, and the Oscar winners came to a ceremony in his honor to let him know they resent it.

Brooks received the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award Thursday, and Freeman and De Niro were among a galaxy of stars who paid tribute to the man behind Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers.

Martin Short opened the program with a song-and-dance routine set to a medley of melodies from Brooks’ films.

“The word genius is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one,” Short said.

Billy Crystal, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Cloris Leachman, David Lynch, Larry David, and Carl Reiner also honored the 86-year-old filmmaker at a private dinner at the Dolby Theatre that had the energy of a good-natured roast.

“We are going to miss you so much, Mel,” Kimmel said. “You were one of the greats. Rest in peace, my friend.” READ FULL STORY

Mel Brooks to be awarded AFI's Life Achievement Award by Martin Scorsese

Mel Brooks has won an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, an Emmy, and endless, endless accolades. Later this month, he’ll be honored once more when Martin Scorsese presents him the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award. (Scorsese has also been awarded AFI’s Life Achievement Award, back in 1997.)

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'The Producers' writer-director Mel Brooks to receive 41st AFI Lifetime Achievement Award

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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.  READ FULL STORY

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