Mel Brooks Tells 'Stories I've Never Told' in Career DVD Collection

12:30 PM PST 07/08/2011 by Tim Appelo
Mark Leibowitz

The Entertainment Renaissance man is working on a multi-DVD career retrospective due from Shout! Factory in spring 2012.

Shout! Factory, noted for smart collections of retro TV, has struck a deal with Mel Brooks for a multi-DVD box set covering his TV and film career, on sale in spring 2012. But wait a minute -- didn't 20th Century Fox already do a 9-disk Mel Brooks Collection in 2009?

"This will not be a collection of my films, such as the Blu-ray set that Fox released, although it will include many film clips and the stories behind them," Brooks tells The Hollywood Reporter. "The History of Mel Brooks Part I will be just that: a narrative of my career as told by me and others, replete with all the little archival treasures for which Shout! Factory is justly lauded. For example, you’ll get to see my first ever appearance on television with Sid Stone as a pitchman's assistant on The Milton Berle Show.  And you’ll hear outrageous stories about my meetings with Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope and other Hollywood greats—stories I’ve never told." Fans may also get some new Brooks material, but he's not telling what material that might be just yet.

Shout! founding partners Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos, who will begin filming interviews and bonus content for the Brooks set this month, have proven that archival footage that used to be routinely scrapped by studios has current cash value.

Tom Lehrer never had a best-of collection or video available, so we made one," Garson Foos tells THR. "Ernie Kovacs never had a career-spanning collection that revealed not only his creative peak but his evolution as a TV visionary, so we made one. Mel Brooks has helped define American comedy over the last 60 years, but there has never been a comprehensive set to show how, so we’re making one."

The Kovacs set, well and widely reviewed, may have helped swing the Brooks deal. "In spite of its $70 price, [The Ernie Kovacs Collection] has exceeded our total sales projection in a few months," says Foos. Released in April, the six-DVD, 13-hour collection of the largely forgotten TV pioneer Kovacs has sold 50% more than Shout! execs projected.

Mel Brooks is a TV pioneer too -- he was a writer with Woody Allen and Neil Simon on Sid Caesar's 1950s comedy show -- but probably a lot more fans remember Brooks hits like The Producers than remember Kovacs. As Brooks says in his movie History of the World, Part 1, "It's good to be the king."

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