Siobhan Braun 8:30 a.m., July 21
Comedians Rally to Support Former Telethon Host Jerry Lewis
Last week it was my sad duty to report Jerry Lewis' ouster as the National Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. According to the MDA, Jerry's participation in the annual Labor Day Telethon (that he created some sixty years ago and bore his name) "has completed its run."
Friday afternoon a dozen or so funnymen held a news conference at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood to draw attention to this crime against Jerry's kids (and comedy). Taking to the stage to voice their discontent with the MDA's decision were Paul Rodriguez, Larry Miller, Tom Dreesen, and French comedian Mustapha El Atrassi. Not exactly an A-list aggregation, but Kevin Pollak and Dave Chapelle's emails of support should add sizzle.
Jerry Lewis and the marvelous Norm Crosby!
Leading the charge was true Telethon-royalty. According to Show Tracker, Norm Crosby, malaprop-making meshuggana and one of Jerry's co-hosts for the past 25 years, called the MDA’s actions "abrupt" and "cruel."
Where are the big guns? Jerry's influence deserves a good chunk of what little box office clout Jim Carrey still commands. Ditto for Robin Williams. Roberto Benigni should drop whatever he's doing and run to his mentor's side. Didn't Jerry once rib Steve Martin by billing himself as "the original 'Jerk?'" Martin can stop collecting art for one night to honor an artistic influence. Did you know that JL was Woody Allen's first choice to direct Take the Money and Run? Hey, Woody! Get your tuchas on a plane. I'll book a suite at The Park Manor for you and Soon-Yi.
Jerry Lewis and the marvelous Charo!
And don't for one second think that I'm going to cut a deity any slack. Jerry gave Marty one of his most (only?) critically acclaimed performances in King of Comedy. You took an omerta, Marty. You and Bobby D. That meant something. Together the two of you'se appeared on one stinking Telethon, and that was to hype the release of the film. Smetterla di comportarsi in modo vergognoso!
How could the MDA not see this as a golden opportunity? Richard Belzer stated the obvious while guesting on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. Publicize this year's Telethon as Jerry's last and it's bound to be a ratings (and pledge) bonanza. SuperStation WGN and KUSI would even refrain from interrupting the charitable event for baseball game. (Now I am dreaming.)
The main reason Richard Belzer won't be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Here's how to get back at them, JL. Put in a call to HBO or some other cable channel and pitch The Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis Telethon. It would be a counter-programmer's dream! Think of it: A disgruntled Lewis docked on Sam's Place in San Diego harbor and parked in front of a webcam for six-hours saying whatever comes to mind.
OH, YEAH! TIMPANI!
Jerry Lewis and the marvelous Rip Taylor!
Seated at the bar tinkling the keys of his Casio is Jack Eglash, Jerry's conductor for the last 147 years. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme drop by and croon about Jerry's retirement from MDA and how it could be the start of something big. Confetti fills the air courtesy of toupee-doffing madman, Rip Taylor. Who needs Geritol with hoochie-coochie gal and voluptuous Vegas vixen, Charo, on hand? Laughter ensues when Dr. Joyce Brothers accidentally presses her AlertUSA emergency response pendant. And who better than Julius LaRosa to add just the right touch of humility?
Together they would work the celebrity phone bank with all proceeds, of course, going to Jerry's kids.
It would be marvelous!
As a long-time student of all-things Jerry, it's my belief that, not unlike his divorce from Dino, Lewis is responsible for the split. First, his show is shortened by fifteen-hours. Next, his hosting duties are limited to a song before the closing credits roll. Some tribute to a man who helped to raise $2.5 billion in the fight against neuromuscular disease.
Jerry Lewis and a bunch of marvelous guys wearing blue blazers!
Jerry has every right to tell the MDA where they can stick their fercockte fund-raiser. No one knows more about putting on a Telethon than Jerry Lewis. He practically invented them. As sure as Labor Day is right around the corner, it's a safe bet that a nutty press conference is imminent.