Hotel Transylvania 2, featuring Mel Brooks, easily topped the weekend box office, sinking its teeth into an impressive $47.5 million, and providing a big win for star Adam Sandler and Sony Pictures, the studio behind the animated franchise.
Dick Van Patten, who was featured in High Anxiety (1977), Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and also portrayed Friar Tuck on the sitcom, When Things Were Rotten, has passed away at the age of 86.
“I loved working with Dick Van Patten. He could do drama, comedy, and had a talent for that rarest of gifts—satire. Had he been a baseball player he would have been a great utility infielder. He could play any position, and if you needed it he could pitch a shutout. It was a happy day for me when I knew he would be on the set. His sweet, cheerful disposition made everything better. I will miss him very much.” – Mel
The Comediansguest starring Mel Brooks will air on FX this Thursday, April 30th.
Recently, Billy Crystal spoke to NPR’s Terry Gross about Mel:
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. My guests are Billy Crystal and Josh Gad. They play satirical versions of themselves in the new FX comedy series “The Comedians.”
You’ve each had the chance to work with people who were heroes to you when you were growing up. Can you each tell us a story about meeting one of those people and having the chance to work with them?
CRYSTAL: Well, for me, show businesswise, Mel Brooks – “The 2000 Year Old Man” was the album, you know, you just – everybody knew it, who knew anything about comedy. And it was – he was so hilarious and that energy – that manic, crazy, Jewish uncle energy that I knew in my house, he had. And he was just so hilarious and so free and so unexpected, everything he said. And so I got to meet him as parents. His son Max and my daughter Jenny were in kindergarten together from they were 5. So we – I knew Mel as a parent, which was hilarious. Then we’d see each other socially on and off because of my relationship with Rob Reiner and then Carl, who also is another, you know – you’re looking at this Mount Rushmore of comedy – that’s two of the faces. And when I was on Broadway and I finished my run, Mel called me. And I always wanted to work with him and never happened, and he calls me. He says, Billy, hi, it’s Mel. Listen, I want you to go into “The Producers.” I think you’d be a great Max. You’ll go and you’ll do Max. You’ll play it from now till the holidays – till Christmas – and that’ll be great. What do you think? I said, Mel, oh, I’ve been waiting for this call for 30 years, but I just finished my run. And with all due respect, I don’t want to be the eighth guy to play Max Bialystock. And he said you won’t be, you’ll be the 12th.
Mel Brooks with BFI chair Greg Dyke (left), John Hurt and Alan Yentob
The BFI is pleased to announce that Mel Brooks was awarded the BFI’s highest honour, the BFI Fellowship, at a private dinner hosted by Greg Dyke, BFI Chair, in London last week.
Mel Brooks said: “I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of the BFI Fellowship and to be inducted into such distinguished company. When I was informed that I had been chosen, I was surprised and delighted. Not many Americans have been offered this prestigious award… and for good reason.”
Greg Dyke, BFI Chair said: ‘We are thrilled to honour Mel Brooks with a BFI Fellowship. His brilliant wit and satire have continued to surprise and delight and, sometimes, astonish, as he delights in flouting convention, taking comedy to areas once held taboo. Mel’s irrepressible energy and dazzling originality have made the world a much funnier place.”
Sir John Hurt, BFI Fellow and star of Mel Brooks’ films including The Elephant Man, History of the World: Part I and Spaceballs, gave a citation at the event. Alan Yentob, also a BFI Fellow, interviewed Mel at the event in front of guests that included Jonathan Ross, Terry Gilliam, Mike Leigh, Simon Pegg, Catherine Tate, Katherine Ryan, David Walliams, Sir Salman Rushdie, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. Continue reading →
Front-row tickets for Mel Brooks Live in London will be sold through an on-the-day lottery at the Prince of Wales Theatre box office for £25 each. Entries accepted from 5pm on March 22nd. Names drawn at random at 5:30pm with a limit of one entry per person and up to two tickets per winner. All entries checked for duplication. Winners must be present at the time of the draw and have valid ID.
Don’t forget to check the official ticket website as last minute house seats may be made available throughout the week!
Mel will take to the London stage for his first ever U.K. solo show. The EGOT-winning comedy legend will present Mel Brooks Live in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre on March 22. The one-night-only event will celebrate Brooks’ life and career in TV, movies and musicals with countless anecdotes and songs.
Aero Theatre, Santa Monica, CA • Sat, Feb 28, 2015 • 7:30pm
Discussion between films with writer-director Mel Brooks.
Zero Mostel (February 28, 1915 – September 8, 1977) was born 100 years ago today; his matchless comic timing is seen to great effect in both THE PRODUCERS and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
1968, Rialto Pictures, 88 min, USA, Dir: Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks’ directorial debut is one of his finest, and won him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This outrageous look at two Broadway producers – conniving con man Zero Mostel and sheepish, going-along-for-the-ride Gene Wilder (nominated for Best Supporting Actor) – deciding to get rich by selling shares in what they believe will be a guaranteed flop is certainly one of the funniest comedies of the 1960s. The pair’s production “Springtime for Hitler” (“Don’t be stupid, be a smarty! Come and join the Nazi party!”) inadvertently becomes a so-bad-it’s-good hit, and their grandiose designs on big-time wealth comically crumble. Watch for Dick Shawn as acid-casualty actor, LSD, who becomes a surprise star as the jive-talking Fuehrer, and Kenneth Mars as the humorless, ex-German soldier playwright.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
1966, MGM Repertory, 99 min, USA, UK, Dir: Richard Lester
Zero Mostel is a lazy, sloppy slave in ancient Rome who wishes to win his freedom by helping his master woo a beautiful young courtesan in this adaptation of the popular Broadway musical. A cast of comedy and musical legends including Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton and Michael Crawford keeps the pace fast and furious in this classic farce directed by the great Richard Lester. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Screening format: 35mm