Jerry Lewis out as MDA chairman and off telethon

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by judiz, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

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    Jerry Lewis started the telethon and has been the national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for many, many years. Now at age 85 and in declining health he announced this year would be his last telethon. Two days ago MDA sent out a press release saying Jerry Lewis will not be on the telethon and was let go as MDA chairman. What is your opinion?
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  2. sk9tingfan

    sk9tingfan Well-Known Member

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    Although I didn't see the actual announcement and the wording, my guess is that it was by mutual agreement. The degree of energy and stamina not only for lasting through the actual telethon but also the requirements during the year are quite substantial. Jerry Lewis has not been in even marginally good health for at least the last five years. It's sad, but probably a necessary step for the continued success and evolution of the organization.
  3. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    I think they should have let him do this last one. He has given almost his entire adult life to supporting and promoting this cause (he started hosting (regionally broadcast) telethons in 1952 at the age of 26, and the national telethon as we all know it was first held in 1966). I'd like to see today's "stars" champion a cause for that long, and with that much zeal. Sure, we all knew it would end sometime, but for MDA to cast him out like that shows a blatent lack of respect for the man and what he has done these many years.

    And no, the decision that Jerry would not be appearing on this year's telethon was not by mutual agreement. That was MDA's decision; Jerry had announced that this year would be his last. Big difference there.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sho...ok-jerry-lewis-and-the-telethon-that-was.html

  4. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Good thing the telethon's been shortened from 21 to six hours because without Jerry it won't be worth watching anyway. One can only watch so many hours of Nancy O'Dell. At least the French still like him.
  5. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    wait until the french finally see "the day the clown cried"
  6. paskatefan

    paskatefan Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a heartless decision on the part of MDA to me. IMHO, they should let him do this one this year. Let the MDA show their thanks and appreciation in an appropriate way, not tossing him out unceremoniously.
  7. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    I'm thinking there's something bigger going on, probably a health issue. I don't think MDA would be stupid enough to can him unless they thought his appearance might be a problem.
  8. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Whether you like Jerry Lewis or not; his lifetime of effort is largely responsible for the monies/research that have led to the understanding of - and scientific advances toward treatment - for an entire category of disabling conditions and genetic diseases.

    He deserves a better "thank you" than being unceremoniously "dropped" by the MDA
    It will be interesting to see how much money they raise this year.
    I'm sure that it will be much less then in the past.
    Advancing research costs $$$$$.
  9. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Yes, he isn't well, but for crying out loud - let the guy take a final bow. He can participate by video feed - it's all on TV anyway.

    He's never stated WHY he got involved with them in the first place. I'm very curious about that now - I think he's said in the past that it will be revealed after he passes, which I hope isn't too soon.

    Lewis once did an interview where he said that he would rather hear his accolades now rather than have them held for his eulogy. If you want to voice support send him a tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/JerLew
  10. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

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    I know the telethon is suppose to be about the kids and adults fighting MD and not about Jerry Lewis, but his name has been connected to this disease for over 40 years. I remember reading that long before any celebrities lent their names to charities, Jerry became involved wth a group of moms whose children had muscular dystrophy. I for one would love to see Jerry sing his trademark song "You'll Never Walk Alone" one more time even if he can't make it through the first verse without getting hysterical crying.
  11. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    When I tuned in to the telethon, it was never because of Jerry but for some of the invited guests. I've always thought his attempts at humor in his later years were embarrassingly not funny. Yes, I know he has done much for the MD and the telethon, but the producers need to freshen up the format. "Out with the old. In with the new." It'll happen to everyone eventually.
  12. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Lewis has been traveling to some promotional events for his documentary, so it doesn't appear he's on his deathbed. He lives in Las Vegas most of the time so it wouldn't be a journey to the telethon anyway. Seems strange that MDA is apparently not willing to do what's been done for Dick Clark with his New Years show the last several years and let him tape some segments in advance.
  13. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

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    ^ I totally agree with this. Why not have Jerry videotape some segments ahead of time? Couldn't he also be an "Honorary" chairman? Jerry has been so passionate about MD, can't help but wonder if there may be some backlash from his loyal supporters.
  14. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Weren't there some incidents in recent years where he said inappropriate things while on-air at the telethon? I seem to recall something about him calling a production crew member a "faggot".

    IIRC he is also not popular with some disability activists, who think he uses pity and stereotyping (e.g. calling the disabled "kids" and saying they are unable to work) to raise money.

    Maybe the MDA was afraid of putting him in front of a live camera for his last telethon....or maybe he wouldn't agree to doing a pre-taped message (that could be edited if needed).
  15. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Taping may be the only solution. His recent quotes make me worry about early signs of dementia, making a live appearance tricky at best.
  16. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    Well, yes, but it was going to happen next year anyway by his own request. Why not let him have one last year?
  17. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    He's said crap about gays and women publicly in just the last few years. And I have to say his public persona has creeped me out for years, the hostility just beams out from under the comedian. I'm sure MDA concluded it was too dangerous to put him on the air live and I'm also sure we're going to get some Charlie-Sheen-style histrionices from Lewis.
  18. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    We might,

    I agree, his opinions on a number of "social issues" - including the place of persons with disabilities in society, have not necessarily reflected "politically correct" thinking,
    He is not alone. Many of his generation have had trouble adjusting their views to reflect changing attitudes.

    That said, the MDA could have handled the situation much more gracefully than they did,
  19. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    I would tend to agree with this. He has had some questionable statements/performances on the telethon lately. All in all, most telethons have had less air time - going from a weekend air time to 24 hour air times to 12 hour airtime, etc. TV airtime has gotten more costly in this day of other types of fundraising - such as internet donations, text donations. We don't know if the MDA was getting pressure from its air stations to rein in Jerry.

    I think that blaming the MDA for a less than graceful departure is a bit premature since we don't really know what was the driving force.
  20. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    I tuned in to last year's telethon after not watching since 1994. I had stopped watching in 1995, the year I first went away to college, and for some reason never got back into it. He was barely in it last year, undoubtedly due to his health issues and age. I know he's cut back in recent years the time when he is on the air.

    I remember the "old days" watching the telethon. We sat down to it on 9:00 PM Sunday, we kids watched until we were sent to bed around midnight, and the TV was literally on all day on Labor Day until the end.

    Guess this is another thing to add to that list I posted, about stuff your kids don't know about.
  21. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    I'm reminded of his guest role in "Wise Guy" when he played a garment industry tycoon who was in debt to the mob. He was very convincing as an angry and bitter aging man who regretted some of the choices he had made.
  22. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Unfounded criticism, IMO. Jerry's "kids" have been known as "National Goodwill Ambassadors" since the 1980s, and the telethon has always featured adults with MD. The telethon raises money for the MDA's Transitions Program, a resource center that assists adults with MD to attend college, find careers, advocate for accessible workplaces, and so on.
  23. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, their criticisms are based on Lewis' personal comments about the disabled, not about what the MDA has done. Comments such as "If you don't want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don't come out of the house".
  24. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    That was a stupid thing to say, and it's good that he apologized for saying it. He's said some stupid things over the years but IMO it's been offset by the good he's done.
  25. Jasmar

    Jasmar Active Member

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    And regardless, as many have pointed out, it would be a very easy thing to shoot a few spots ahead of time and edit them into the show, as a last hurrah.

    I've never cared for JL. But the way this has come down bugs me.
  26. Latte

    Latte Well-Known Member

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    Maybe his health is much worse than it was when he said he would do another year, and he/they realized he could not do this year after all.
    He really is in very poor health.
  27. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    He's making appearances to promote for his upcoming documentary, so health doesn't seem to be the issue the MDA has with him. The mensch deserves a proper send-off.

    Too bad Jerry's pal Sinatra isn't around anymore. His boys would straighten this out.
  28. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Given the the inappropriate Lewis remarks that other posters have mentioned, all I could think was "What would Frankie Boy say if he were alive?" That was a different generation of people who were brash, blunt and to the point with no PC filters at all.

    I remember when Sinatra orchestrated the reunion of Lewis & Martin on a telethon. I didn't understand it at the time, but you're right: Frank would have had something to say and he would done something.

    To that point, a number of comedians and celebrities have complained about Lewis being shunned.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  29. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if the reunion was staged. The banter seemed a little too easy. Or, maybe they really were that good at ad-libs.
  30. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    I'm sure they were good at ad-libbing and it was only a surprise for Lewis, right? (Although I think he suspected something.)
    I think their banter is how they made a name for themselves as a stand up comedy act in the 1940's.

    Thanks for the link - that whole bit was a little inappropriate (by today's standards) at a variety of points.
    I kind of wonder if Martin wasn't really a bit tipsy.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  31. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Part of the reason for the Martin-Lewis breakup was Jerry's temper. He hasn't shown any signs of reform.
  32. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Actually, I think he's showing great restraint.
  33. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    If Martin was awake, he was tipsy. Ironic that both Martin and Lewis were smoking on a telethon for a medical charity.
  34. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Hindsight is 20/20 - didn't Martin suffer from lung cancer? As I said before, today's PC didn't apply back then ... it was a different time.
  35. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    From a collection of quotes from the TV critics' press tour (promoting new shows etc.) that just finished in Los Angeles:

  36. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Yeah - not politically correct, but for an 80-year old jewish guy still doing his Catskills Schtick, probably a line he's used over and over. I'm sure that you can easily find things he's said that offend any number of groups. He's from a different era and frankly, age should get some respect along with a nodding sense of "can't change a zebra's stripes"

    No one's asking people to track his every comment and movement. We'd need a database to keep track of his errors.

    How come no one's looking for the good things he's done? I know people who've met Lewis through MDA and said that he's funny and genuinely kind. He told one kid how handsome he was in his suit. The kid beamed because he had had several surgeries for a birth defect. Make sure that well-timed remark is in the database.

    He's raised millions of dollars for this charity, reached out to many in need, and contributed his own money and time to the effort. You're kind of kicking the guy while he's down by listing his every mistake, don't you think?
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  37. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    This is what we should remember whenever we discuss past events.
  38. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    You are aware that that reunion clip is from 1976, aren't you?
  39. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    No. I don't deny that he has raised a lot of money for charities and other good causes, but saying something alienating because people aren't laughing enough for your tastes is not a good idea, no matter what age you are or what background you come from.
  40. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    I don't think he was disparaging anyone or any group with that remark. He makes jokes about himself, and his being jewish, all the time.

    It was a "hostile audience" comment: jewish comedy vs. arabian audience. He wasn't saying that "Arabs" have no sense of humor, just that they wouldn't relate to his schtick.
    I suspect it's a line from many years ago, that he's used over and over.

    He was saying that he was dying onstage because the audience didn't get his jokes.