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Stars pay tribute to comic genius Brooks

Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman never worked with Mel Brooks, and the Oscar-winners came to a ceremony in his honour to let him know they resent it.

Brooks received the American Film Institute's 41st Life Achievement Award, and Freeman and De Niro were among those who paid tribute to the man behind Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and The Producers.

Billy Crystal, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Cloris Leachman, David Lynch, Larry David and Carl Reiner also honoured the 86-year-old filmmaker at a private dinner.


David blamed Brooks for his idle years as an aspiring comedian.

"Mel Brooks didn't get me into comedy; he kept me away from it," David said, recalling how he was intimidated by Brooks' talent.

"I spent years doing nothing because of him."

Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg and Gene Wilder were among those lauding Brooks via video.

Past recipients of the AFI honour include Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Eastwood, Spielberg, Lucas and Martin Scorsese, who presented Brooks with his award.

Scorsese put the Brooks in the same category as the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello.

"Mel has made his own tradition of greatness, and it's that tradition we're celebrating here and honouring tonight," Scorsese said. "Mel has always made his own way, and he brought us all along for the joyride."