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WGA Saddles Up to Honor Brooks With Laurel Nod

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Mel Brooks, who once claimed that his films "rise below vulgarity," will be this year's recipient of the Screen Laurel Award, which is presented by WGA at its annual awards show.

The Screen Laurel is given to a member who has "advanced the literature of the motion picture through the years and who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter."

Brooks is one of only seven people to earn all four major entertainment prizes: the Oscar, the Tony, the Emmy and the Grammy.

In the 1950s, he joined the television writing staff of comedian Sid Caesar and then teamed with Carl Reiner to write and perform the Grammy-winning "2000 Year Old Man" routines. While writing for Caesar's staff, Brooks received three Emmy nominations and one win -- in 1967 -- for "The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special," which also won a WGA award. In 1963, he wrote and narrated the satirical animated short "The Critic", for which he received the Academy Award. Two years later, his co-created television comedy "Get Smart" garnered him another Emmy nomination.

WGA West president Victoria Riskin said that as the board unanimously approved Brooks for the award, a number of them were smiling. "No doubt (the board) was thinking of what his acceptance speech on March 8 will be like. Brooks is an amazing talent; a one-of-a-kind, zany genius who writes with wild abandon and has brought audiences countless hours of pleasure and laughter. We're elated to honor a lifetime of nonconformity, exuberance and sublime comedy," Riskin said.

"The Producers," Brooks' first feature film, won him an Oscar and a WGA award for best original screenplay in 1968. He again was nominated for a WGA award in 1971 for "The Twelve Chairs." Three years later, he won a WGA award for co-writing "Blazing Saddles" and was nominated for co-writing "Young Frankenstein," both of which earned Oscar nominations. He also was nominated for a WGA award for "Silent Movie" in 1976.

Brooks' other feature film writing or co-writing credits include "High Anxiety," "History of the World: Part I," "Spaceballs," "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and "Dracula: Dead and Loving It."

Brooks was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the song "Blazing Saddles" in 1974. Most recently, his musical Broadway production "The Producers" received a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards.

Past recipients of the Screen Laurel Award include Billy Wilder, Horton Foote, Jean-Claude Carriere, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Sonya Levien, Ring Lardner Jr., Ben Hecht, Preston Sturges, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, John Huston, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and, last year, Blake Edwards.

The 55th annual Writers Guild Awards will take place March 8 at the Beverly Hilton and simultaneously at the Pierre Hotel in New York.

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