Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Miscellaneous

I’ve always hated Labor Day. It signifies the end of summer, and don’t you find that even after you have long since graduated that Labor Day brings back those dread memories of starting another year of school?

Programming note: I will be filling in for Peter Tilden tonight on 790 KABC radio from 9-midnight PDT. You can hear it on the net here. I’ll be talking about the kind of stuff I write about here. So it’s like a podcast with traffic reports.   Call in at 800-222-5222 (800-ABC-KABC).

One more day to enter the fill-in the punchline contest with no prize for you to win.  So enter NOW. 

What can we learn from this summer’s boxoffice? Ryan Reynolds can not carry a movie.

Actual Huffington Post headline from the weekend:  "Did You Have Sex With An Alien"?

Along with this one: "Paris Hilton Signs A DJ Contract Because She's Great."

And finally: "Here's More Of Miley's Butt If You Didn't See Enough This Week"

The only thing I did like about Labor Day was the JERRY LEWIS TELETHON. Okay, I admit it. I unabashedly loved the JERRY LEWIS TELETHON. I looked forward to it every year…for both the right and wrong reasons.

It did benefit a very worthy cause, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The videos of the kids were both heartbreaking and inspiring. Let’s hope someday there’s a cure.

But the JERRY LEWIS TELETHON was the absolute height of entertainment cheese, a time warp to a Las Vegas scene that everyone but Jerry realized had long since passed, and was the home of the most insincere sincerity that only show business could create. The treacle just oozed out of your speakers. Born in the swinging ‘60s, nurtured by Sammy Davis Jr. (combining over-concern, hipness, gross sentimentality, and jewelry), this style was perfected by Jerry Lewis who added his own special touches. No one could beg with such passion while sticking a cigarette in his ear. No one could deliver a biblical sermon, break down crying, then go into his spastic character for comic relief.

The French call him Le Roi du Crazy. They still shortchange him. Since his auteur movie days he has developed his own unique and delicious blend of condescension and humility. Every year I knew what I’m going to get and was always richly rewarded.

One year Jerry called local New York co-host, Tony Orlando: “Only the best Puerto Rican to ever come to this country.”

Now how could you NOT love that???

Nowhere did superlatives fly like the JERRY LEWIS TELETHON. In only one half hour I caught “infamously wonderful”, “exceptional talent”, “most talented”, “most amazing”, “most exciting”, “unmatched”, “extraordinary”, “a true legend”, and “a treasure in every sense of the word.”

Give the man a hand. James Lipton can’t lavish praise like that.

On to the fall! 


Scooter Schechtman said...

There was an early 80s "Playboy" interview with Letterman where he said just that about the telethon, along with lavish praise for "The Love Boat".

Hamid said...

Jerry Lewis also deserves credit for his truly wonderful performance in The King of Comedy. The autograph scene always kills me, where a woman tells Jerry how much she loves him and asks for his autograph, but when he says he hasn't got time, she says "You should only get cancer, I hope you get cancer!"

Hamid said...

Got it wrong, it wasn't an autograph but to speak to her nephew on the phone.

Johnny Walker said...

I don't want to break the flow of yesterdays comments, but WOW! What an interesting experiment that's turning out to be.

Just when you think there's no more jokes to be had, someone comes up with another one that makes me think, "I wish I'd thought of that!".

How showrunners manage to pick the "best" one in a situation like this, I don't know. There's so many great ones.

Anonymous said...

After Martin and Lewis had split someone asked why HE didn't have his own telethon. "I would, but all the best diseases were already taken." Is supposed to be his answer.

Dan Ball said...


He should've thought about balcony collapse victims.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Personally, once I graduated school, I came to love Labor Day (or the beginning of September), because it feels like new life has begun: I don't like summer, I don't do well in heat, and our summers are pretty unforgiving with temps ranging anywhere between 90 to 115, it feels like three months of being dead, then September comes, and it feels like being brought back to the living.

Jake Mabe said...

I loved those telethons and, yep, I'm still bitter about Jer's unceremonious departure.

My favorite moment: Francis Albert Sinatra reuniting Jer and Dino.


ODJennings said...

Since everything eventually returns to Natalie Wood on this blog, it is worth mentioning that Jerry Lewis is the person who took a 10 year old Christopher Walken aside and encouraged him to become a professional actor.

As we know, that started a chain of events that ultimately lead us to a boat in Catalina Harbor . . .

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Did anyone even notice that there no longer is a telethon - that it's now a two hour special on ABC produced by Dick Clark Productions? Yep...Disney bought the Love Network.

thevidiot said...

National Lampoon did the "Help Stamp Out the Jerry Lewis Telethon Telethon" claiming that Jerry made so much money making fun of those people that he now feels guilty. Might be some truth to that!

emily said...

They always stuck the absolute worst acts into the overnight segment.

"Now, while you go to your phone and make your pledge, here's Billy Bob McCoy playing 'Flight of The Bumblebee' on his nose harp."

Now that's entertainment.

Thanks Jer. Let's go to the Tote Board.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Right up to the end of Jerry's reign, I was also hopelessly addicted to the event and even worked the live phones one year in Los Angeles. The contributions were real, and I got very caught up in wanting the phones to ring and take money for the "kids." Put in some of my own, too.

Jerry made it his telethon, but how could the MDA turn down millions. When people accuse him of stealing money, they need to be spanked. Sure he received a salary for his appearance, but, understand, the MDA is the middleman, not the charity. If any bucks were stolen..., just sayin'.

Jerry Lewis is a frighteningly complex individual. But come every Labor Day, I miss him.

DBenson said...

I remember when it was such a big deal the local stations would be doing live remotes of people dropping off change at some shopping center, interviewed by Local Personalities:
"Where are you from?"
"San Jose."
"San Jose. That's great. San Jose, everybody!"
"Yeah. San Jose."
"On behalf of the kids we just want to say thank you. And where are YOU from?"
"San Jose . . ."

Cap'n Bob said...

I little of Jerry goes a long way with me. I stopped watching over 40 years ago.

Brian said...

My favorite Jerry Lewis moment in the telethons took place in the late 1970's. He received a large check from the U.S. Postal Carriers Union... and made a big deal about thanking them for it and how important they were to his kids. Then two minutes later he's making a pitch to the TV audience to send in donations, but adds, "Send checks, not cash... you know the sticky fingers at the post office". My God, I miss Jerry Lewis.

Dan in Missouri said...

I grew up watching the telethon when it started on WNEW TV in NYC.
Always great or at least interesting. I always gave. MDA did and continues to do good work.
Lewis was always politically incorrect. Suddenly it wasn't OK. His devotion to MDA was wonderful and he made many lives better. The way he was dumped was a sin in and of itself.
I have passed the boot drives and didn't watch the so called telethon this year. We need to move MDA on to a different group of executives.
Find the AP stories about the declining revenues and increasing salaries at MDA now that Jerry is gone.
Dan in Missouri

Rosariorose9 said...

Definitely tuning in to KABC tonight!

Chris McDermott said...

I don't want this to sound cruel and I'm not making fun of those victimized by MD, I'm making fun of Me and My Ignorance: but for the longest time it always bothered me why Jerry sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" - because I didn't hear the faith inferences, only that they'd never walk alone...interpreted by me that they'd never walk without assistance of some kind, crutches, wheelchairs, etc. I thought he was being kind of mean and condescending when he'd crouch down next to a poor kid and sing the song...then one Labor Day (hate to admit how old I was,) a big black frying pan fell out of the sky, konked me on the head, and I understood it was like that "footprints" thing...("you weren't alone...I was carrying you")

Bottom line. Growing up Catholic is very damn confusing and brain damaging. Next time around Footprint Guy... Jewish, please.

Happy Labor Day Ken, can't wait to hear you on KABC tonight...don't forget - plug the books!

Phil In Phoenix said...

Jerry has been oddly quiet about the whole thing. Especially considering the crude and rude way he was unceremoniously dumped.

I miss it too. I loved that it was schmaltzy and cheesy and the last stand for guys like Charlie Callas and Pat Cooper.

I also liked the money it raised for a great cause.

Timpani please!

the same chris said...

"Nowhere did superlatives fly like the JERRY LEWIS TELETHON."

Really, Ken? It's funny because, have you read the tenth paragraph of your own post today? Or anything you write about any of your idols? But now it's clear where you got it from!

DwWashburn said...

I lost interest in the telethon when it became more about the corporations plugging their product and less about the individual viewers making pledges. Two things about that bugged me -- 1) corporations (and groups such as the firefighters for that matter) didn't just come on and give the money, they got multiple times and only gave a portion at a time, and 2) there were a lot of companies who didn't give a penny of their own money but gave, instead, the amounts their customers donated.

I remember a business (now gone) called Service Merchandise. They would put containers in their store twelve months a year for the telethon, then they would get about six times to present a piece of the money. They got all the credit and only had to put out containers. But Jerry treated them as if they had given the cash from their vaults.