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Mel Brooks and David Lynch to Receive AFI Honorary Degrees

May 29
9:52 2012

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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.

Reflecting his range of mastery in the entertainment arts, Mel Brooks is only one of 14 people who have won the Emmy, Grammy, 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), HIGH 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).

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