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The 41st AFI Life Achievement Award gala should be filled with plenty of punchlines and bellylaughs since the board of the American Film Institute has voted to bestow its annual honor on Mel Brooks.
In announcing its choice today, Howard Stringer, chair of the AFI board of trustees, said, “Mel Brooks is America’s long-reigning king of comedy – and as he taught us long ago, it’s good to be the king. 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.”
GALLERY: The Comedy Roundtable
Best known for his comedy films, ranging from The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein to Silent Movie, High Anxiety, Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Brooks is only one of 14 people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award. He collected his Oscar for his original screenplay for 1968’s The Producers, which served as the basis for his Tony-winning Broadway musical. He’s also shown his serious side by executive producing David Lynch’s 1980 film The Elephant Man.
Three of Brooks’ films ranked among the top 15 movies on the AFI’s 100 Years …100 Laughs list: Blazing Saddles at No. 6, The Producers at No. 11 and Young Frankenstein at No. 13.
The award will be presented to Brooks during a tribute dinner on June 6 in Los Angeles that will be broadcast by TNT later that month, with encores on TNT sister network Turner Classic Movies.
For the past four years, the AFI’s Life Achievement Award has been broadcast by Viacom’s TV Land. The move to Time Warners’ TNT grows out of an AFI-Turner relationship that began last year with TCM Presents AFI’s Master Class: The Art of Collaboration, a series of specials taped in front of an audience comprised of AFI Fellows studying filmmaking at the AFI Conservatory.
The specials, exploring artistic collaborations in film, began with Steven Spielberg and John Williams, which aired in November 2011, and continued with David O. Russell and Mark Wahlberg, which aired in May. A third special is slated to air on TCM in winter 2013.
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