Mel Brooks: History of his world, part 1

Melbrookstribute

Friday night’s tribute to Mel Brooks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was as heartfelt as it was hilarious.

Leonard Maltin was, as ever, a fantastic host. The tributers were extremely qualified to talk about Mel and his impact on the biz, his unique genius and the crazy-funny stuff like how Brooks squeezed an extra $300,000 out of MGM/UA’s David Begelman (tip: always hit up a studio chief up after lunch, not before) so that Richard Benjamin and Brooks’ Brooksfilms banner could do right by “My Favorite Year” (thank goodness they did).

Carl Reiner revealed that it was Burns and Allen — George Burns and Steve Allen — who ensured that “The 2000-Year-Old Man” routine — something Reiner and Brooks had done for fun at parties for years (as Reiner put it, “for Jews and for non-antisemitic gentiles”) — was put down on wax and mass marketed as a comedy album(s). Burns told them after one party perf that if they didn’t record it “he would steal it,” Reiner recalled. And then Allen went a step further and booked studio time for them to record a few routines.

Everyone on the stage made a concerted effort to convey love and admiration for Brooks, as an auteur and as a human being. But I submit that nobody made quite as much of an effort as Teri Garr. She demonstrated incredible grace and resilience in walking on stage to join Lesley Ann Warren and Tracey Ullman in a discussion of performing opposite Mel.

Multiple sclerosis has taken a physical toll on Garr, but the neurological disorder has not claimed the exuberant spirit that caught Brooks’ eye way back when. After a clip of “Young Frankenstein” was shown, Garr deadpanned, “I haven’t changed a bit.”

(Pictured above, from left: Richard Benjamin, Lesley Ann Warren, Mel Brooks, Leonard Maltin, Teri Garr, AMPAS’ Sid Ganis and Tracey Ullman.)

-30-

Another emotional moment in a night of big, big, can’t-catch-my-breath laughs came when Brooks himself noted during the Q&A with Maltin how deeply he was moved by the clips of his late wife, Anne Bancroft, from “Silent Movie” and “To Be or Not To Be.” They were married for 40 years and had a son, Max, who sat next to his father during Friday night’s fete. As my husband observed, Bancroft was immensely talented, and she was a babe. 

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 4

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Vicky says:

    I <3 you, Mel. :)
    I hope you and Carl will record another super 2000yo man album for us!

  2. Paul says:

    Mel Brooks is a visionary and a great man. Good article poster.

  3. Arye Michael Bender says:

    Little Melvin Kaminsky, you’re still cute guy, a very funny mensch, and a snappy dresser to boot.

  4. Stuart says:

    Learn more of Multiple Sclerosis when registered at: http://www.msviewsandnews.org.
    Once registered, you will receive our weekly ms related e-newsletter, keeping you informed of current MS information.
    This e-Newsletter is now being received by e-recipients in (50) Countries.
    Use our MS Blog: http://wwwmsviewsandrelatednews.blogspot.com/ – to your advantage.
    Become A Fan of “MS Views and News” on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MS-Views-and-News/102000411026?ref=mf.
    — Have questions? Write to: stuart@msviewsandnews.org – thank you
    Please don’t forget to inform others whom you know that are affected by MS, of this information.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More TV News from Variety

Loading