September 03, 2012
No Jerry Lewis, No Telethon
The booting of Jerry Lewis will not be televised.
Lewis has been all but erased from the telethon’s memory. This year’s show, airing the Sunday night before Labor Day, has been further downsized, to just three hours .... It is no longer called a telethon, but simply an “entertainment special,” and there will be no tote board tallying the donations.As common courtesy, I suggest that Jerry Lewis deserves more. Maybe a tip of the hat and a heartfelt farewell, as a minimum.
In the press announcement of the event, Jerry Lewis’s name is nowhere mentioned.
The story behind Lewis’s departure remains untold. But a few things have become clear in the year since the awkward public breakup. Jerry Lewis was dumped by the MDA, the charity he had been identified with since the 1950s. He’s still bitter about it. And the telethon is withering without him.[…]
The pain is not hard to discern. “This was a hurt man,” says Richard Belzer, the stand-up comic and Law and Order co-star, who has developed a close, almost father-son relationship with Lewis. Jerry’s goodbye appearance was scrapped after he and the charity could not agree on its format and length. Lewis wanted to do it live; the MDA floated several pre-taped options — “all insulting,” Belzer claims.