Monday, September 06, 2010

Just like 1989: Documentary crew is following Jerry Lewis at the telethon

History's being made, or at least repeating itself, at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon taking place right now at the South Point Casino ("just minutes away from the famous Las Vegas Strip") as a documentary film crew is following Jerry behind the scenes.

As far as we know, this is the first time camera crews have been allowed to follow Jerry through the MDA Telethon rehearsals and broadcast since 1989, when Burt Kearns and a team from A Current Affair captured the Jerry Lewis in a way no one had ever seen. The shoot was edited into Jerry's Longest Day, an instant special half-hour episode of the groundbreaking tabloid TV show, earned a note of criticism from then-Fox TV chief Barry Diller because Jerry was shown uttering the word "goddamn," and is the subject of Chapter 6 of the book Tabloid Baby.

The crew trailing Jerry now is led by producer Gregg Barson, who wrote and produced the 2004 Phyllis Diller doco, Goodnight We Love You. Barson says it took six years to get Jerry to sign off on the project, which he plans to wrap by spring.

Jerry used to brag that he'd stay awake and onstage for the entire 20-hour telethon. Today, at 84, he'll be onstage from 1 to 3:30 Vegas time for the finale.