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R.I.P. Sid Caesar

By | Wednesday February 12, 2014 @ 12:11pm PST

THAT S LIFETV pioneer Sid Caesar has died at the age of 91 in Los Angeles. The Yonkers, NY-born comedian made his first appearance on TV in 1949 on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. On February 25, 1950, Caesar was among the ensemble cast on the premiere of Your Show Of Shows. With Caesar, Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner in front of the camera and Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin and Danny Simon among the writers, the 90-minute weekly NBC show became one of early TV’s biggest hits, running until June 1954, and served as a launching pad for future TV comedy talent — with proteges spawning protoges through the years. Ceasar moved on to topline several shows: the one-hour satirical Caesar’s Hour debuted just a few months later and ran until 1957, followed by 1958’s The Sid Caesar Show, which had Woody Allen as a writer. He starred in a series of appearances and specials well into the 1960s and beyond.

Related: WGA/TV Guide List: 101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time

While TV was where he was best known, Caesar was also busy on the big screen. He was one of the leads in the 1963 hit comedy It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with Spencer Tracey, Berle, Peter Falk and Mickey Rooney among the who’s who of comedy greats. … Read More »

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AFI Honors “Art And Farts” Of American Film With Laugh-Filled Mel Brooks Tribute

Pete Hammond

It was completely appropriate that AFI‘s 41st Life Achievement Award honoree Mel Brooks made his entrance at the Dolby Theatre to the Steven Sondheim song, “Comedy Tonight”.  It set the tone immediately for a very different evening than any that had come before at this annual event. Look at the list of the 40 previous AFI honorees, and there’s not a single solely comedic filmmaker or actor in the whole bunch. Yes, there are some — like Billy Wilder, Mike Nichols, Shirley MacLaine and Tom Hanks — who have made a few classic comedies but no one whose whole screen career is built on laughs. The AFI finally corrected that glaring omission Thursday night.

“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the American Film Institute honors the art — and the farts — of American film,”  said AFI Board Of Trustees Chair Sir Howard Stringer in welcoming the star-studded crowd. “When I telephoned Mel to tell him the AFI had voted him in as the 2013 recipient, he responded instantly, ‘What took you so long?’ Fair enough. Comedy is routinely short-changed at many awards ceremonies , particularly the Oscars. It is often said comedy is harder than drama because funny is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. That makes  Mel, without question, Hollywood’s principal lightning conductor.” Read More »

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George Clooney And Carl Reiner Reminisce

By | Friday October 14, 2011 @ 6:38pm PDT

Last night the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Carl Reiner. Deadline’s own Pete Hammond (Pete describes the evening here) moderated panels which included Dick Van Dyke, Bill Persky, Bonnie Hunt, Eva Marie Saint, Gary Shandling, Larry Matthews, Lily Tomlin, and Paul Reiser. Pete then intro’ed a surprise guest, George Clooney who concluded the evening with an award presentation. Here’s the footage:

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HAMMOND: TV Academy Salutes Legendary Carl Reiner

Pete Hammond

Thursday night I had the honor of hosting the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences tribute to the legendary Carl Reiner, which also featured a surprise appearance at the end of the two-hour show from Carl’s Ocean’s 11, 12 & 13 co-star George Clooney who presented him with the enormous crystal trophy for his remarkable career in entertainment. The packed house (with an overflow turnaway crowd watching on video next door to the Academy’s Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood) greeted him with a massive standing ovation after comedian Paul Reiser welcomed him to the stage. The star-studded tribute also marked the last official Academy event for Chairman John Shaffner as he noted in his opening remarks welcoming the crowd, Shaffner will turn over his job after next month’s election to a new Chair (Warner’s Bruce Rosenblum is running opposite current Vice-Chair Nancy Wiard).

I had previously hosted the Academy’s  Betty White 60th Show Biz anniversary tribute and Bob Newhart’s 50th last year and this was another amazing night for a true show business icon, the indefatigable Reiner who at “89½” is well-deserving of this “mid-career tribute”  as I noted in my own introductory remarks. He’a a man for all (TV) seasons  and does everything including a lot of  Master of Ceremonies gigs. “If Carl could host his own tribute tonight I’m sure he would,” I said before cueing the opening clip reel … Read More »

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