Three TV legends from decades past are still very much working their magic in different ways in 2023, almost all at the same time.
- Mel Brooks, 96, this week is releasing a long-awaited sequel to his 1981 comedy “History of the World Part I,” a parody of Hollywood’s historical movie trends featuring a huge ensemble including Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman and Sid Caesar. There was a jokey promise of a sequel at the end of that film (available on Hulu) promising sketches like “Hitler on Ice,” “A Viking Funeral” and “Jews in Space.”
It only took 42 years for an actual eight-episode sequel to take place packed with celebrities like Kumail Nanjiani, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz and Dove Cameron playing various historical figures. Hulu will air two episodes a night Monday, March 6, through Thursday, March 9.
Brooks, of course, was there in the early days of television working for the early 1950s variety show “Your Show of Shows.” He sold millions of comedy records including 1960′s “2000 Year Old Man.” His 1970s films “Blazing Saddles,””The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein” are considered ribald classics.
- Dick Van Dyke, now 97, was recently revealed as The Gnome in the ninth season opener of “The Masked Singer,” easily the oldest person ever to appear on the show.
He performed Billie Holiday’s “When You’re Smiling” in the costume before he was eliminated. “I just loved it that they thought I was Robert DeNiro,” he joked to host Nick Cannon after the big reveal.
Judge Nicole Scherzinger began to cry before the man known for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Mary Poppins.” “We love you so much,” she burbled. “You look so gorgeous!”
Ken Jeung added: “You’re one of the reasons I got into comedy. You are comedy!”
“I would say it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t think they expected anybody from my generation to be on that show. So I knew I was gonna fool them.”
As a bonus on the show, he also sang a bit of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from “Mary Poppins.”
- Norman Lear, creator of breakthrough sitcoms like “All in the Family,” “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons,” last year celebrated his 100th birthday with an ABC special.
And he’s still working.
He revived “One Day at a Time” in 2017 and created three “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” specials on ABC in 2019 and 2021 with actors re-enacting episodes of shows like “Facts of Life,” “All in the Family” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”
Lear this spring will be producing a new sitcom “Clean Slate” for FreeVee in Savannah starring Atlanta native George Wallace and “Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox.
The series centers on a car wash owner Henry (Wallace) whose estranged child comes home to Alabama after 17 years. But he must do some soul searching as he comes to terms with the fact that his adult child is a trans woman, Desiree (Cox).
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