Steve Martin to Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Steve Martin has been tapped as the 43rd recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, to be presented at a June 4 gala.

This is a good year for Martin, who received an Honorary Oscar last November and recently opened a new musical, “Bright Star” (which Martin created with Edie Brickell), at the Old Globe. He was given a Kennedy Center honor in 2007.

The American Film Institute tribute will air on TNT.

According to the American Film Institute, the Lifetime Achievement nod is given to “an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture.”

In making the announcement, AFI board of trustees chairman Howard Stringer said, “Steve Martin is an American original. From a wild and crazy stand-up comic to one who stands tall among the great figures in this American art form, he is a multi-layered creative force bound by neither convention nor caution. His work is defined by him alone, for he is the author – and a national treasure whose work has stuck with us like an arrow in the head. AFI is proud to present him with its 43rd Life Achievement Award.”

After working at Disneyland performing magic tricks and selling guidebooks, Martin became a writer for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in the 1960s and segued into work as a standup comic. He earned an Oscar nom for the short “The Absent-Minded Waiter” and made his feature starring bow with the 1979’s “The Jerk.”

He won an Emmy for his TV writing, and has Grammys for the comedy albums “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy.”  He won another Grammy for best American Roots Song for “Love Has Come For You.”  His books include “Cruel Shoes” and “Shopgirl.”

On June 5, Jane Fonda became the eighth woman to receive the AFI Life Achievement honor. The ceremony was telecast a week later on TNT.

John Ford was the first honoree, in 1973. For the first 20 years, AFI mostly honored retired film giants whose most prolific years were behind them, such as Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis and Frank Capra.

But in the last two decades, the honorees have been people with still-active careers, such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Meryl Streep. In 1993, the AFI board of trustees had extended the criteria “to encompass individuals with active careers and work of significance yet to be accomplished,” according to AFI.

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