TCA 2011: Jerry Lewis reveals a method to his madness
Comic legend Jerry Lewis admitted to reporters here that his legs these days aren't what they used to be, and that he has various health issues that have slowed him down. But in the end, those things don't matter.
"I'm the happiest 85-year-old you'll ever see in your life," Lewis proclaimed, prompting a rapturous response from the gathering.
Lewis, who is almost as known for his temperamental nature as he is for his iconic career, was mostly at his charming best during his appearance to promote "Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis," an original documentary on Encore that will explore Lewis' wide-ranging legacy in film and television. The project also will feature testimonials from A-listers such as Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Quentin Tarantino who discuss the effect of Lewis on culture and their careers.
Though Lewis offered up occasional jokes, he made several pointed comments about his view of the current TV scene.
Said Lewis: "I love the industry. I don't allow my daughter to use the term TV around the house. It's television. It's a miracle." But he added that the attitude toward the medium has changed. "No one rushes home anymore to watch something good. They rush home and hope they see something good."
He also belittled some modern innovations such as watching movies on smartphones, Twitter and Facebook: "We're not going to have human beings in 20 years; people don't know how to have conversations with each other. Lewis also said the industry needs to focus more on appealing to "the child within us."
Lewis touched on other topics: reports that he was ending his involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy telethon after this year were not true; John Travolta would be starring in a new version of Lewis' classic comedy "The Family Jewels"; Jim Carrey is the "most brilliant physical comedian today." Not a day goes by that he doesn't think about his former partner, the late singer Dean Martin.
With all his accomplishments, Lewis said he hadn't fulfilled everything he hoped to achieve, but he's coming close. "If I got the cure for muscular dystrophy, that would be it."
-- Greg Braxton
Photo: Jerry Lewis speaks during the Encore session for "The Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis" Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters