HONORS FOR MEL BROOKS
The Writers Guild of America, west has announced that it will present Mel Brooks with its prestigious Screen Laurel Award.
WGAw President Victoria Riskin announced the decision by the guild's Board of Directors.
"The Board voted for Mel 100 percent on merit, said Riskin, "and they were smiling as they voted, no doubt thinking of what his acceptance speech on March 8 will be like."
Riskin called Brooks "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."
Brooks -- who gained fame as a member of the legendary writing staff for Sid Caesar's early TV comedy shows -- went on to write and direct such classic movie comedies as "Blazing Saddles" (1974), "Young Frankenstein" (1974) and "High Anxiety" (1978). He won an Oscar and a WGA Award for the screenplay for "The Producers" (1968), and turned the cult classic movie into a record-breaking Broadway musical, winning 12 Tony Awards in 2001.
Brooks, 76, is one of only seven performers who have won the four major entertainment prizes -- the Oscar, the Tony, the Emmy and the Grammy. He joins a list of Screen Laurel Award recipients that includes Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Blake Edwards, Horton Foote, Ring Lardner Jr., Preston Sturges, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, John Huston and Billy Wilder.
The 55th Annual Writers Guild Awards will be presented on March 8 in dual ceremonies in Beverly Hills, Calif., and New York City.
NEW ROLE FOR KEVIN SPACEY
Two-time Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey will be named artistic director of London's Old Vic Theater, according to a report in the London Times.
The newspaper said the appointment had the support of Sir Elton John, who is Chairman of the Old Vic Theater Trust, which bought the Old Vic Theater in 1998.
Spacey won the supporting actor Oscar for "The Usual Suspects" (1995) and the best actor Oscar for "American Beauty" (1999). He is a member of the theater's board of trustees, and has given substantial donations to the theater.
He is scheduled to sing with John at a fund-raiser for the Old Vic in London on Wednesday. The bill also features performances by Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Lulu and Sinead O'Connor -- all doing Elton John songs.
MICHAEL J. FOX RETURNING TO PRIME TIME
ABC has ordered a pilot for a new comedy produced by former "Spin City" and "Family Ties" star Michael J. Fox.
"Hench at Home" which Fox wrote and will executive produce -- is about a professional hockey star who spends more time with his family after injuries force him into early retirement from the game.
Fox -- who left ABC's "Spin City" in 2000 after publicly revealing that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease -- told Daily Variety he's looking forward to working with the network again behind the camera.
"For me, creating and writing a TV comedy is a different kind of adventure in a familiar setting," Fox said. "Working with ABC and DreamWorks on 'Spin City' was a terrific experience, and Touchstone's enthusiasm for this new project has been outstanding."
Touchstone TV will produce the show, along with DreamWorks TV and Fox's Lottery Hill production company.
HONORS FOR JIMMY WEBB
The Mercer award is presented to songwriters who are already in the hall who have "established a history of outstanding creative works." Webb is best known as the writer of such pop classics as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "MacArthur Park" and "Up, Up and Away."
Webb -- the only artist to receive Grammy awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration -- received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters in 1999
Academy officials also announced Tuesday that it will honor music publishing veteran Nicholas Firth with its Abe Olman Publisher of the Year Award at the 34th annual induction and awards dinner on June 12. Firth is worldwide chairman of BMG Music Publishing.
STARS LINE UP FOR OSCARS
Oscars telecast producer Gil Gates announced Tuesday that Jennifer Connelly will be a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards.
It will be her first appearance as a presenter. Connelly took the Oscar stage last year when she accepted the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her performance as Alicia Nash in "A Beautiful Mind."
Connelly -- who will appear on movie screens this summer in "The Hulk" -- has also appeared in "Requiem for a Dream," "Pollock" and "Inventing the Abbotts."
The 75th Academy Awards will be presented on March 23 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, in ceremonies to be televised live by ABC.