THIRTEEN's 'American Masters' to Produce Mel Brooks Documentary, Set for PBS Premiere, May 2013
After 60 years in show business, Mel Brooks has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer; he is one of 14 EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winners. Yet, the comedy giant has energetically avoided a documentary profile from being made, even issuing an informal gag order on his friends...until now.
Brooks has agreed to throw himself into a new documentary about his storied career, giving American Masters exclusive interviews and complete access to his film archives. Slated to premiere May 2013 on PBS (check local listings), American Masters Mel Brooks (w.t.) features new interviews with Brooks and his actor friends, including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman, Carl Reiner, and Joan Rivers.
"There are a few singular voices of genius in film comedy -- Mel Brooks joins the ranks of Chaplin, Keaton and Woody Allen, creating a genre unto himself," explained Susan Lacy, creator and executive producer of American Masters. "This project has been a joy. Mel can make anything funny -- he even had me in stitches during a conference call about distribution contracts. His humor is truly instinctive -- and constant!"
"When they called me to say I had been chosen as the next 'American Master' I thought they said I was chosen to be the next Dutch Master. So I figured what the hell, at least I'll get a box of cigars. When I realized my mistake I was both elated and a little disappointed at losing the cigars," cracked Brooks, who will receive the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award in June.
Summing up his experience making the film, filmmaker Robert Trachtenberg said, "He's the only man I let call me Bob." Trachtenberg's past films for American Masters include Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2005), Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (2002) and On Cukor (2000) about director George Cukor. He's also the author of the bestseller When I Knew (2005) and an award-winning entertainment and fashion photographer.
Since its 1986 premiere, American Masters has earned 24 Emmy Awards - including 8 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and 5 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special - the 2012 Producers Guild Award, 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, and 3 Grammys. Now in its 26th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York's public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, essays, photographs, outtakes, and other resources.
American Masters Mel Brooks (w.t.) is a production of THIRTEEN's American Masters for WNET. Robert Trachtenberg is writer, director, producer, and editor. Susan Lacy is American Masters series creator and executive producer.
In 2012, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York's flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region.