Carl Reiner Gives Mel Brooks His Honorary AFI Doctorate

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by Anne Thompson
June 15, 2012 9:29 PM
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Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner
At the AFI Commencement this week, Carl Reiner presented his old chum Mel Brooks with an honorary doctorate, and much hilarity ensued (video link). (The 2000 Year Old Man made an appearance.)

Brooks recalled his late wife Anne Bancroft enrolling in the AFI directing program for women. And said he could have done a good job with "The Elephant Man," which Brooks produced. Instead he hired fellow AFI honoree David Lynch, after seeing "Eraserhead," "because he figured if put his name on it, the audience would think it was a comedy.

Brooks met Lynch at his fave hangout Bob's Big Boy. "He had a white shirt buttoned at the top with no tie," Brooks recalled. "He looked like Charles Lindbergh, he was pretty weird. I didn't know if he was really sane or not. He seemed earnest and I knew he was emotionally attached to the script, the subject matter and the story."

Aside from writing and directing, Brooks produced quite a few good films, including Bancroft's film "Fatso," "Frances," starring Jessica Lange, "84 Charing Cross Road," starring Bancroft, David Cronenberg's "The Fly," starring Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Benjamin's "My Favorite Year" starring Peter O'Toole.

"Good things come out of AFI," he said. "That made me get off my ass, I never do this." To writers he said, "If you don't laugh, don't write it."

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