LOS ANGELES, CA, May 29, 2012 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced it will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon American comedy icon Mel Brooks and celebrated surrealist David Lynch for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image” during AFI Conservatory commencement 2012 at Hollywood’s landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Both artists worked together on the Academy Award winning THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), with Lynch as director and screenwriter and Brooks as executive producer. The AFI Conservatory – named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter – is renowned for its collaborative approach to hands-on filmmaking and its advanced training of the next generation of storytellers in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Previous recipients of the AFI Honorary Degree include Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones, Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

Reflecting his range of mastery in the entertainment arts, Mel Brooks is only one of 14 people who have won the Emmy, G rammy, Oscar and Tony Award, and his artistry ranges from writing, directing and producing to acting and composing. Sid Caesar hired Brooks as a writer for YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS in 1950, where he was among a storied staff that included Carl Reiner (THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) and Neil Simon (THE ODD COUPLE). He joined forces with Buck Henry in 1965 to create the hit television series GET SMART starring Don Adams as agent Maxwell Smart. Brooks’ first venture into film was as a voice actor in THE CRITIC (1963), which won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film. He again won the Oscar – for Best Original Screenplay – for his first feature, THE PRODUCERS (1968). Brooks is known for his comedy films including BLAZING SADDLES (1974), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), SILENT MOVIE (1976), HIG H ANXIETY (1977), HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 (1981), TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1983), SPACEBALLS

(1987), LIFE STINKS (1991), ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993) and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT (1995). His films have been recognized by the American Film Institute as among the funniest American movies of all time, with three films in the top 15 of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list; BLAZING SADDLES ranked #6, THE PRODUCERS ranked #11 and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ranked #13.

Director, screenwriter, visual artist, composer/musical artist – and AFI Conservatory alumnus – David Lynch

(AFI Class of 1970) is known for his darker, dreamlike explorations of American life. In 1977, his debut, ERASERHEAD – which began as his thesis film while attending AFI Conservatory – premiered at Filmex, the precursor to the American Film Institute’s AFI Fest. Since then, the award-winning filmmaker has continued to craft some of the world’s most immersive noir dreamscapes, gaining mainstream success and a reputation as an innovator, first with THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), which earned him the first of two Academy Award nominations, for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and then with TWIN PEAKS, which broke new ground in series television in 1990. His film works range from sci-fi to crime-drama and include DUNE (1984), BLUE VELVET (1986), TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992), LOST HIGHWAY (1997), THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999), MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) and INLAND EMPIRE (2006). Lynch returned to AFI Fest in 2010 as its first Guest Artistic Director, where he also created the key art for the festival’s poster.

Lynch also composes music selections for his films and has recorded multiple albums, most recently “Crazy Clown Time,” released in November 2011. MULHOLLAND DR. was honored by the American Film Institute at AFI Awards 2001 as one of the most outstanding films of the year. BLUE VELVET has been honored by AFI as one of the greatest mysteries of all time and as one of America’s most heart-pounding movies in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills. Also, Frank Booth from BLUE VELVET was ranked among the greatest villains of all time on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.

Among the premier theaters in Los Angeles, 2012 marks the first AFI Commencement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which opened in 1927 with the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epic THE KING OF KING S and was declared a cultural and historic landmark in 1968. The renowned exhibition space has been host to numerous premieres, from STAR WARS (1977) to INCEPTION (2010), and has also hosted three Academy Award ceremonies. Titans of the silver screen from actors such as Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson and Elizabeth Taylor to directors including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have their hand and footprints memorialized in cement in the courtyard of the historic theaters. For the past three years, Grauman’s Chinese has been the exhibition home to AFI Fest – the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of excellence in global cinema – with Hollywood Boulevard lighting up over eight consecutive nights each November with red carpet premieres and screenings that have ranged from A SING LE MAN (2009) to BLACK SWAN (2010) to J. EDGAR (2011).

Sony is a proud supporter of the AFI Conservatory and its mission to train the next generation of storytellers.

About Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks, director, producer, writer and actor, is the creator of such comedy film classics as BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HIG H ANXIETY and SILENT MOVIE.

Brooks entered television during its ‘Golden Age,‘ beginning as a writer for Sid Caesar, on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS in 1951. In 1955 and 1957, Brooks received Emmy Award nominations (with others) for Best Comedy Writing for CAESAR’S HOUR, and in 1956, he was nominated (with others) for Best Writing for a Variety or Situation Comedy.

In 1952, Brooks wrote sketches for Leonard Sillman’s Broadway smash hit revue, “New Faces of 1952,” and in 1957, together with Joe Darion, he wrote the book for the Broadway musical, “Shinbone Alley,” which starred Eartha Kitt. In 1962, he wrote the book for the Broadway musical, “All-American,” starring Ray Bolger.

In the ‘60s, Brooks teamed up with Carl Reiner to write and perform “The 2000 Year Old Man” albums which became immediate bestsellers. In 1960 and 1961, Brooks and Reiner received Grammy Award nominations for the Best Spoken Word: Comedy for “2000 Years” and for Best Comedy Performance for “2000 and One Years,” respectively. In 1997, Brooks and Reiner teamed up again for “The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000.” Both a book and CD were released, the CD winning a Grammy Award in 1998 for the Best Spoken Word: Comedy.

Brooks wrote and narrated THE CRITIC , a short satire on avant-garde art films, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject in 1964. In the following year of 1965, he teamed up with Buck Henry and created G ET SMART, the long running television show starring Don Adams as Agent 86. Brooks, along with others, received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Comedy-Variety in 1967 for THE SID CAESAR, IMAGENE COCA, CARL REINER, HOWARD MORRIS SPECIAL.

In 1968, he wrote and directed his first feature film, THE PRODUC ERS, starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, which earned him an Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. He then went on to create a remarkable string of hit comedies: 1970, wrote, directed and acted in THE TWELVE CHAIRS; 1974, cowrote, directed and acted in BLAZING SADDLES, and was nominated, along with John Morris, for Best Title Song, “Blazing Saddles”; 1974, co-wrote and directed YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN; 1976, co-wrote, directed and starred in SILENT MOVE; 1977, co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in HIG H ANXIETY; 1981, wrote, directed, produced and starred in HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1; 1983, produced and starred in TO BE OR NOT TO BE; 1987, cowrote, directed, produced and starred in the hit sci-fi spoof, SPACEBALLS; 1991, co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in LIFE STINKS; 1993, co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS; 1995, co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT; 2005, co-wrote and produced THE PRODUCERS, the film version of his Tony award winning 2001 Broadway musical and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, “There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway.” For three successive seasons, 1997-1999, Brooks won Emmy Awards for his role as “Uncle Phil” on the hit comedy show, MAD ABOUT YOU.

Brooks received three 2001 Tony Awards for “The Producers: the New Mel Brooks Musical” (Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical). To this day “The Producers: the New Mel Brooks Musical” 12 Tony wins is still the record for most Tony awards won by a single production. In addition, he won two 2001 Grammy Awards (Best Musical Show Album for “The Producers” and Best Long Form Music Video for Recording “The Producers – A Musical Romp with

Mel Brooks”) and the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. In 2007 “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” premiered on Broadway and went on to win both the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and the Audience Award for Favorite New Broadway Musical.

Brooks is in an elite group with Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Whoopi Goldberg and Mike Nichols to earn all four major entertainment prizes – the Tony, the Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar.

His visionary film company, Brooksfilms Limited, founded in 1980, has produced some of America’s most distinguished films. Among them are: David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN, starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, with Hurt receiving one of the film’s eight Oscar nominations; David Cronenberg’s memorable hit, THE FLY, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis; Frances, in which Jessica Lange and Kim Stanley were Oscar-nominated; Richard Benjamin’s MY FAVORITE YEAR, in which Peter O’Toole earned an Oscar nomination; and 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD, in which Anne Bancroft won the British Academy Award opposite Anthony Hopkins.

About David Lynch

David Lynch. Born Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout.

About the American Film Institute

AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.

AFI preserves the legacy of America’s film heritage for future generations through the AFI Archive, comprised of rare footage from across the history of the moving image and the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, an authoritative record of American films from 1893 to the present.

AFI honors the artists and their work through a variety of annual programs and special events, including the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI Awards. Celebrating its 40th year in 2012, the AFI Life Achievement Award has remained the highest honor for a career in film while AFI Awards, the Institute’s almanac for the 21st century, honors the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers. And as the largest nonprofit exhibitor in the United States, AFI offers film enthusiasts a variety of events throughout the year, including AFI Fest presented by Audi, the Institute’s annual celebration of excellence in global cinema; AFIDiscovery Channel Silverdocs, the largest documentary festival in the U.S., celebrating its 10th edition this year; and year-round programming at the AFI Silver Theatre in the Washington, DC area.

AFI educates the next generation of storytellers at its world-renowned AFI Conservatory, named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter for the quality of its instructors and speakers, and its “glittering parade of alumni.” AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines:

Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Aspiring artists learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling.

For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, AmericanFilmInstitute and AFI.


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