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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Mel Brooks: Make a Noise'

Dennis King Published: May 20, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Mel Brooks: Make a Noise”

For a guy who has spent a long, productive lifetime in show business (and has scored a rare EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards), Mel Brooks has somehow managed to escape any of those extended, talking head, Biography Channel treatments of his life. This is, until PBS’s grand “American Masters” series crowned him its latest nominee with the biographical celebration “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

The documentary will air Monday evening (May 20) over local PBS stations, and marks the first time Brooks has cooperated – or allowed his friends and confidantes to cooperate – in revealing the colorful details of his life.

From his early days as a writer/performer in live television, on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” to his series of satirical films (“Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles,” “High Anxiety,” “Spaceballs”) through the Broadway musical production of his cult-favorite first film “The Producers,” the show charts Brooks’ amazingly prolific ability to score big laughs in virtually every genre.

The documentary also delves into the Brooklyn-born entertainer’s childhood and his rocky first marriage to Florence Baum (that produced three children) and his 41-year marriage to the late actress Anne Bancroft.

It’s all told in candid interviews with Brooks revealing never-before-heard anecdotes and in talking-head commentaries from his friends and cohorts, including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Cloris Leachman, Joan Rivers, Tracey Ullman and lifelong friend and partner Carl Reiner, with whom Brooks created the classic bit “The 2000 Year Old Man” more than 50 years ago.

“When they called me to say I had been chosen as the next ‘American Master,’” Brooks said, “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.”

“Mel Brooks: Make a Noise” is rated G and runs 90 minutes. It’s being released by Shout! Factory.

- Dennis King