Gene Wilder has thanked close friend and filmmaker Mel Brooks for saving his career by giving him plum roles in classic comedies The Producers, BLAZING SADDLES and Young Frankenstein.

Wilder, now 72, counts Brooks' 1968 film THE PRODUCERS among his biggest successes and acknowledges his friend's brilliant screenplay skills gave him some of his greatest lines.

He says, "Without The Producers as a launching pad, and then Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (both 1974), I can see that I might have just faded away.

"After 1967's Bonnie And Clyde, the first film that I did, (its director) Mike Nichols wanted me to do CATCH-22, playing the part of MILO MINDERBINDER.

"I was very excited, but when I got the script it didn't compare to the book. I said, 'Mike, the heart of the character isn't here.' He said, 'If I made a movie including what you wanted in it, it'd be four hours long.'

"Well, maybe it would but I turned it down."

10/07/2005 09:16