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Producers,’ Brooks sweep Tony Awards

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NEW YORK, June 4 (JTA) — Say goodbye to Hollywood.

Mel Brooks has discovered that the hot place for him is Broadway, where his outrageous musical comedy “The Producers” swept the 55th annual Tony Awards on Sunday night, winning a record 12 awards.

Not since “A Chorus Line” in 1975, or “Hello, Dolly!” — which set the previous record in 1964 with 10 Tonys — has there been so much positive buzz about a show.

Brooks accepted awards for best musical, best book of a musical (with Thomas Meehan) and best original score. “The Producers” also won for, among other things, for best director, best leading actor, best scenic design, best costume design and best choreography.

The show had garnered a record 15 nominations — but some of these pitted cast members against each other in the same category.

The biggest surprise of the night came when the show won a Tony for best original score over other highly acclaimed musicals including “The Full Monty,” “A Class Act” and “Jane Eyre.”

“In any other year, you guys would have won, I assure you,” Brooks told his competitors in accepting the award. “But this is a phenomenon, so forgive us for that.”

“The Producers” pokes fun at Jews, gays, old women and Hitler, among others, and includes a kickline of Nazi storm troopers.

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick — both of whom were nominated for best actor, which Lane won — star as Bialystock and Bloom, two Jewish losers who look for success by, paradoxically, putting on the worst musical of all time.

That show within a show, titled “Springtime for Hitler,” has been described as an equal opportunity offender: Jews are portrayed as so greedy they make merchandise out of Hitler, gay men are lispy and limp-wristed — and sexually depraved old women struggle to a sexual fling on their walkers.

Brooks, 74, was born in Brooklyn as Melvin Kaminsky.

He is well-known among moviegoers for his satires and spoofs: “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Spaceballs.”

Brooks previously won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 1968 movie version of “The Producers.”

Each time Brooks took the stage to accept a Tony, he entertained the audience with one-liners.

“I want to thank Hitler — for being such a funny guy on stage,” he said.

Another line: “I’m going to have to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life: act humble.”

When accepting the award for best score, Brooks said, “I want to thank Stephen Sondheim for not writing a show this year.”

After one acceptance speech early in the night — sure that he would be on stage again soon to take another award — Brooks told the audience, “I’ll see you in a couple of minutes.”

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