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Mel Brooks Achieves PEGOT Status With Career Honor at Peabody Awards

Mel Brooks Achieves PEGOT Status With Career Honor at Peabody Awards

Mel Brooks entered even more prestigious awards territory on Sunday, upgrading his EGOT to a PEGOT as he was recognized with the Career Achievement Award at the 84th annual Peabody Awards.

Brooks became only the fourth person to win a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, behind Barbra Streisand, Rita Moreno and Mike Nichols. Billy Crystal presented the comedy icon with the honor at the organization’s Los Angeles ceremony. (A PEGOT can also refer to a Pulitzer instead of a Peabody, which just Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch have achieved.)

“Mel is a genius who believes that comedy should push boundaries, challenge societal taboos and yes, be a little vulgar when the mood calls for it — and with Mel, the mood often calls for it,” Crystal told the crowd at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. “Mel is one of the big reasons that I have a life in comedy. His fearless genius and boundary-pushing humor have been my guiding light since day one,” adding that Brooks has steered him through some of the most pivotal moments of his career.

“For over 70 years, Mel has entertained us. I just want to ask you folks, where would we be without him?” Crystal mused, become noting that Brooks had become “only the fourth PEGOT winner in the process — it’s a big deal, I’m just an ET.”

In his speech, Brooks admitted he wasn’t entirely sure what a Peabody was for, teasing, “When they said, ‘You’ve won a Peabody Award,’ I said, ‘Oh, no shit.’ I thought maybe it was for being the best-looking guy in show business. I had no idea what this award — it’s mostly for electronics. If you’re good at electronics, you can win one of these.”

He joked that he’d like to say he humbly accepted the award “but I’m not humble… Humility is not a part of my vocabulary.” And noting the A-listers who have received the Career Achievement Award in the past, Brooks added, “It’s been won by a distinguished group of esteemed, well-worth [people] winning this award and I feel a little — you really want me to be part of this? These are people that go to good restaurants,” to big laughter from the crowd. In closing, the star declared, “I promised the George Foster Peabody people I will not sell this one.”

Sunday night’s Peabody Awards marked the first time the ceremony has ever been held in Los Angeles, versus its normal home in New York City; the move was initially planned for 2020, but the in-person show has been consistently derailed for the past few years by the pandemic and then by last year’s writers strike.

Kumail Nanjiani hosted the show, which handed out 34 awards across TV, radio/podcasts and digital media; The Bear, The Last of Us, Jury Duty, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Reservation Dogs, Fellow Travelers, Bluey, Dead Ringers and Somebody Somewhere were among the previously announced TV winners.

The journalism and podcasts honored at the ceremony dealt with generally much heavier themes, including politics, racism and the wars in both Ukraine and Gaza. Palestinian activist Bisan Owda, who won a Peabody for her video reports “It’s Bisan from Gaza and I’m Still Alive,” sent a video from the war zone, thanking the organization for “making us, our people, heard.”

Quinta Brunson, Star Trek and nonprofit organization Witness were also recognized with special honors, as Brunson was presented the Trailblazer Award by Donald Glover.

“This is not my first time I’ve presented you with an award and I know it won’t be the last,” Glover jokingly told the Abbott Elementary star and creator. “When I put this suit on, my son said, ‘Are you going to give Quinta Brunson another award?’ I said no; he knew I was lying. He only sees me after awards season.”

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In her speech, Brunson noted that “when I do things and make television and write anything, I’m not thinking of awards. I’m barely thinking about the awards you get for TV, like Emmys and things of that nature, but I’m definitely never thinking I’m going to get a Peabody Award. This is a dream come true, it makes me believe even harder in the work I’ve gotten to do.” She gave a particular shoutout to the Abbott Elementary writers room as well, saying, “They have held it down this season so far — as my life has gotten busier, they have become more and more and more instrumental and have taken care of my show, which is all you can ask for when you’re doing three different jobs at once.”

Hasan Minhaj was on hand to present the Witness with the Global Impact Award and J.J. Abrams presented Star Trek with the Institutional Award, acknowledging, “I can’t tell you what a privilege it has been to be a small part of this undeniable phenomenon” after directing the 2009 and 2013 films.

Alex Kurtzman, who has been behind several of the Star Trek movies and series, was joined on stage by a large group of actors spanning the franchise’s long history, saying that they have all “become custodians of this incredible world of stories; a world that is so much bigger than any one of us but keeps growing stronger because of all of us.”

“It is our job, as custodians, to pass these stories along to the storytellers who will follow us and they to the ones that follow them, by protecting the ideals that Star Trek reminds us to carry out into the world: hope, that wherever in the universe you may live, there is a seat at the Star Trek table. Hope that our better angels will lead us across the frontiers of space and of ourselves, with honestly, dignity and respect. Hope that we remember, no matter how alien the alien, we are all made of the same stardust,” Kurtzman continued. “We believe that is what the Peabodys are really here to honor today: a future that we all discover together. Live long and prosper.”

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