So Jerry Lewis got himself in trouble over the Labor Day weekend. Maybe you heard. In his wacky, jesting way he used the “F-Bomb” as one reporter had it. Another characterized it as a “homophobic slur.” I prefer to think of it as a wakeup call to the board of the Muscular Dystrophy Association that it’s time to promote Jerry out of his hosting role.
Jerry’s survived these dramas in the past and he could surely do so again. But the man is 81 and while that’s half the age of his longtime sidekick Ed McMahan, Jerry is showing signs of wear. And let’s not forget that Jerry Lewis has had more near-death experiences in the last few years than the cheerleader on the ABC television series Heroes.
So how do you move out a guy who plainly doesn’t want to go and with whom do you replace him?
Last question first. How about Jerry Seinfeld?
Seinfeld’s on the record for saying that he pretty much never misses the MDA Telethon, and I believe him. I heard late-night talker Jimmy Kimmel say the same thing the other night. I have a certain sick fascination with the MDA Telethon myself. More to the point, Jerry S. is a father now of young children, and like never before he can probably imagine what it must be like to hear a doctor tell a parent that their child has some form of muscular dystrophy. Seinfeld’s wealthy and powerful and he and some of his friends (Larry David, for instance) have the gifts to reimagine the MDA Telethon for a younger audience. Not too many performers would turn him down if he called and asked them to appear. Plus, word is that he’ll have plenty of time on his hands a week or two after his animated film Bee Movie comes out.
So Jerry Seinfeld it is. But how to get Jerry Lewis to move on?
- First off, a replacement of the status of Jerry Seinfeld has to be secured. Jerry L. could/should participate in the process so long as the result is that Jerry L. is out and Jerry S. is in. When all the preparations are in place, the Jerries should then commence a whirlwind media tour.
- To coincide with the announcement the MDA should commission a retrospective on Jerry L’s entire career written by a prominent author. Too bad David Halberstam is dead, because he would have been the perfect choice. A film documentary, suitable for airing on PBS, should accompany the book. Maybe Ken Burns could whip something up over the next seven or eight years.
- In conjunction with the book and documentary the museum at Academy of Television Arts and Sciences should stage a major retrospective exhibit on the MDA Telethon and Jerry’s TV career.
- The MDA should acquire ownership of the song closely associated with the Telethon, Smile, and retitle it, “Smile: the Jerry Lewis Song.” Maybe Philip Glass could create atonal variations on a theme of Smile: the Jerry Lewis Song.
- A touring exhibit of Jerry’s paintings should be mounted at the 186 TV stations that currently carry the MDA Telethon. And if Jerry Lewis doesn’t paint? No matter. No doubt they could dig up some old Red Skelton canvasses and pass them off as part of Jerry’s faire le clown oeuvre
- There should be a week-long tribute on A&E that features the movies of Jerry Lewis hosted by Regis Philbin and Ed McMahan.
- MDA should clear up the rights issues and release to DVD Martin & Lewis’s many appearances on the Colgate Comedy Hour from the 1950s.
- A series of mailings should go to MDA’s donor list asking them to donate in Jerry’s honor to a special fund that bypasses the MDA’s normal process for funding new research to fund ideas that are promising if unconventional. Laugh therapy perhaps. Or fruit juice enemas.
- The cure to some major component to muscular dystrophy, when it comes, should be called the ‘Jerry Lewis Protocol’ or some such.
- A gold sarcophagus featuring Lewis’s likeness circa 1966, when the Telethon started, should be commissioned in anticipation of his death. A tomb should be dug in the Thebes Valley in Egypt to hold Jerry’s body. Alternately, he could be buried in a specially-built pyramid-shaped crypt on the grounds of the Egyptian-inspired Luxor Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, where Jerry's spent so many wonderful years.
There you go, a few suggestions that, if properly executed, would help the MDA board and Jerry Lewis to move on.
Labels: Jerry Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, Ken Burns, MDA Telethon