King of comedy Mel Brooks was awarded with the Life Achievement Award by American Film Institute (AFI) on June 6 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Former AFI recipient Martin Scorsese was tapped to present the award to the 86-year-old director, who is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. Among those in attendance were Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman.
"Movies rescued my soul. No matter what was bad or wrong, it could be wiped out on Saturday morning," said Brooks. Scorsese also had his say of his fellow filmmaker, saying, "Mel has made his own tradition of greatness, and it's that tradition - drawing from the past, honoring it, toying with it, vamping on it, extending it to places wise men, very funny men previously feared to go - that's what we're celebrating here and honoring tonight."
Actor Martin Short opened the star-studded event by singing songs from Brooks' films, including "I Want to Be a Producer" and "Springtime for Hitler" from "The Producers". "The word genius is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one," Short said.
Brooks' "2000 Year Old Man" partner Carl Reiner also paid tribute to his friend, saying that Brooks was "one of the funniest people in the world - Sid Caesar, me and Mel Brooks." Brooks then approached him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel had his own way to deliver his tribute to Brooks. "We are going to miss you so much, Mel. You were one of the greats. Rest in peace, my friend," he joked, to which Brooks responded, "I'm not gonna die."
TNT will air the tribute on Saturday, June 15, at 9 P.M.