Friday, February 20, 2009
Jerry, meet Oscar...
We've been following the minutiae of Jerry Lewis's career -- the great, the very bad, and the nasty -- on the Funhouse since the show started and now, finally, there is some big news while the Jer is still inhabiting this mortal coil. He's slated to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award this Sunday at the Oscars, and already there is controversy. It was of course brought up that Jerry liberally comes out with the "f-word" (fag) out of the blue, but it won't be a gay group that is planning on protesting him before the Oscars begin -- the organization known as "Jerry's Orphans" has once again surfaced, to address the notion that Jerry raises funds for those with muscular dystrophy primarily through the use of pity.
There are arguments to be made on both sides here, but I thought it would be best to let Jerry speak for himself -- that usually does lead to him saying things that can be diplomatically described as "unscripted." The MDA has occasionally had to distance itself from his statements -- if I remember correctly, they issued a statement disapproving of him having said on a Sunday morning news program, “You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!” Jer's attitude and approach will be protested by folks outside the Oscars, and you can actually follow the action on the website called The Trouble With Jerry. (Thanks to Rich Brown for keeping me apprised of that event.)
In this interview, conducted for a primetime news magazine, he's very pissed off at the "Orphans" and does come up with some odd lines (as with the bit about "running down the hall"). All we can say is that Jerry is never dull. We wish him well on Sunday and, yes, I must do it: Salut l'artiste! (Those Tashlin movies and the first seven years of his solo work are pretty terrific....)