Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jerry Lewis; Bill Maher

Ed here: Mark Evanier--television writer, producer, director, comic book writer, show biz historian unmatched in my opinion--is my favorite voice of sanity where controversies are concerned. While we're still waiting to hear from Jerry Lewis himself about his awkward "release" from his Telethon duties, lovers and haters of Lewis have flooded the blogs with opinions.

Jerry Lewis was my favorite comic actor when I was young. Nobody made me laugh longer or harder. As I got older his stuff started to pall for me. There didn't seem to be any there there. When you think of the great comedians such as Keaton and Chaplin and (to me) Lloyd there is an almost literary persona at work in everything they do. Lewis just started looking silly to me. And watching him on talk shows I saw both his famous mean streak and arrogance.

He was brave to do his live show that lasted so briefly but the mawkish final episode made you turn away. Several years ago he was on NPR with Terry Gross for an hour promoting his autobiography. I was surprised by how little humor he has about himself. Life to him is a grudge match with no possibility that he could ever be at fault. I emphasize that this is my opinion only. He has fans and serious admirers all over the world. And not just in France.

As for being dismissed from his Telethon duties, I understand why they wanted to bring on a new representative. Eighty-five is too old, especially given his health. And he is liable to say anything. I gave up watching it years ago. He's one of those performers who makes me nervous. Seriously. I'm always waiting for him to do something catastrophic. There are a number of actors who have this effect on me when I see them live.

However the man did bring in more than two billion dollars to this very worthy cause. And for the first fifteen years or so the Telethon was a huge pop culture event. He deserves being treated respectfully. Now as Mark Evanier notes maybe Lewis wouldn't be reasonable. Maybe it was his way or the highway. But even if that's the case they should lead off the next Telethon with a ten minute video taped salute to Jerry to remind people where all this largesse came from.

From Marke Evanier: News From Me

"I see all these online petitions and rallying cries to reinstate Jer where he rightly belongs: On our sets on Labor Day weekend, tuxedo-clad in Vegas and introducing Tony Orlando. None that I have seen have mentioned or seemed to care about the real reason the telethon exists. Yes, it's a tradition. Yes, it's often enormously entertaining on at least some level. Yes, Jerry is a legend and pretty much the last relic of a certain generation of performer. All that is great...but the purpose of the telethon is to raise the operating capital for a cause that, and Jerry would be the first and last one to tell you this, does a lot of good for a lot of people. It's not about amusing us from afar as we roast weiners and burgers. It's not about giving Norm Crosby a chance to make his annual appearance on TV. It's not even about upholding custom or honoring Jerry for The Nutty Professor. It's about buying wheelchairs and maybe, someday, finding a cure.


...but supposing they're right. I mean, just supposing. And maybe the problem isn't that they don't appreciate Jerry for past efforts but that he wants it done his way or not at all. Even those of us who love Jerry in some or all manners are aware of his volatility, his unconcealed anger at those he believes have wronged him, his tendency to just say whatever pops into his mind without the kind of regulator that most other public figures have to filter their verbal output. Perhaps the folks in the MDA offices made the wrong call...but if it was the right call insofar as their fund-raising is concerned, how do you ease out a legend without creating the kind of backlash we're now seeing? More specifically, how do you ease out Jerry Lewis if he doesn't want to go?"

for the entire piece go here and scroll down-

-----------------------------------------Bill Maher must see tv

Bill Maher's going on vacation until mid-September but he ended with one of his best final segments ever. Here Bill postulates the notions that the dems need their own version of the Tea Party--just as ignorant, just as psychotic. WARNING THIS IS VERY POLITICAL.



Charlieopera said...

No less a humanitarian (and liberal) than Noam Chomsky has some interesting takes on the tea party (interestingly, that they shouldn't be ridiculed--he doesn't agree with them, well, it's interesting). I watched the Maher link (some of it funny). I do wonder what he (Maher) really thinks, though ... because right now, staying the course and not breaking away has done little besides fail miserably for liberals of any ilk.

Chomsky on tea party:

Ed Gorman said...

Ridicule is the only weapon we have left where the tea party is concerned. They've taken over congress. We need to un-elect every one of them. I agree with David Frum (something I'm loathe to do because he created "The Axis of Evil" and told thousands of lies about why we needed to invade Iraq). Can Chomsky point to a single tea partier who can lay out anything but a ridiculous fantasy as a plan for a government as massive and international as ours? I agree with you, Charlie. Rock and a hard place between Obama and tea partiers. I'd go third party but that would just hand the government over to even more racists and anti-scientists and homophobes and morons. Our congress is filled with them now; we don't need more.

M Carlson said...

Ed, I still have tears rolling from the Maher's piece. Don't normally care for him, but in light of last week's national embarrassment this is priceless. Thank you, Michael

Charlieopera said...

I'd go third party but that would just hand the government over to even more racists and anti-scientists and homophobes and morons

I don't see how the Amnerican worker could do worse than the last three years under the lesser of two evils (with majorities in both houses the first two years), but I do understand the frustration. What I don't understand is how any American union member can even think about voting anything but socialist or communist after Wisconsin. I'm not sure what else Obama or his party has to do to workers before they figure out it really isn't making a difference which set of morons is running the show. He set labor back 100 years with that no strings attached bailout and then doubled down by ignoring Wisconsin public workers. I hear you, but I just don't see the point of playing the same game over and over. I think it's just what they want; "they" being the corporate world that runs the country.

Ed Gorman said...

Charlie--I agree with everything you say. He should've stood with the Wisconsin workers and he should've stood with the progressives who wanted him to level charges against Wall Streeters. Etc. And it's definitely true--corporations run the world. I' all for a third party but I want one that has a chance of winning and right now that just isn't likely.

Charlieopera said...

It will never be likely if the left doesn't do what the tea party did (at the least). Otherwise, the left is left ridiculing while the tea party gets what they want.

I don't see the percentage in it, but I understand how people feel it's better than giving in wholesale for an election or two; the problem is what's happened since Obama--Bush couldn't do to workers in 8 years what this incompetent has done in 3.

Peace, brother ...

Ed Gorman said...

I wish I could disagree with you, Charlie. Obama is overseeing a failed presidency for sure.

Charlieopera said...

We'll get it right sooner or later, Ed. The (temporary) good news, I have a temporary contract job for the next few months ... start tomorrow ... at a rate just about 20K less than what I was making in February (and I really "hate" saying this ... but it's work ...)


RJR said...

Bill Maher could leave the earth forever, for all I care.


Steve Oerkfitz said...

I enjoy Bill Maher-one of the few voices of sanity out there.