Jerry Lewis is a funny guy. This past weekend, he added to his comic legacy (which already includes such ha-ha classics as "The Disorderly Orderly," "Hardly Working" and "Slapstick of Another Kind") by referring to women as "producing machines" for babies.
Through the years, Lewis has told a lot of jokes. ("Hey, laaady!," anyone?) But this wasn't a joke.
What's worse, the offending and/or curious remark happened at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Colorado, an event that celebrates what's funny. And it happened in front of a crowd gathered to honor Lewis' work.
The incident went down Saturday night during a question-and-answer session with the audience. Lewis was speaking affectionately about Dean Martin and some of his other favorite comics. An audience member noticed that all the names Lewis rattled off were male and asked the star who his favorite female comics are.
"I don't like any female comedians," Lewis said.
Fair enough. We're not big Judy Tenuta fans, either. But then Martin Short, who was hosting the event (and who does a darn good Jerry Lewis impression), wouldn't let the matter rest. Short asked Lewis about Lucille Ball, saying, "you must have loved her."
OK, that's fine. Everyone's entitled to his or her own opinion. But Jerry then took his 73-year-old foot and stuck it in his 73-year-old mouth: "A woman doing comedy doesn't offend me but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world," he said, according to an Associated Press report.
You can imagine the uneasy feeling in the room. One thousand spectators high up in the mountains of liberal-minded Aspen, waiting for Lewis to make everything OK with a "just kidding!" He didn't.
Such remarks might even fly if they came from the mouth of, say, a Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was the epitome of old-school cool, and if he used terms such as "dame" or "broad," well, he was a dinosaur from another era. Jerry Lewis has never been that cool. Just listen to "Jerry Lewis Just Sings," his music album (released in the 1960s), if you don't believe it. (And if you dare.)
Perhaps Jerry's just bitter. Jim Carrey stole his act and now makes $20-mil-plus per movie for making the same kind of funny faces; meanwhile, Lewis' annual Labor Day telethon for muscular dystrophy is running on fewer stations every year (yet, mysteriously, somehow manages to make more money each time out). Lewis is considered a genius in France but doesn't get the props he deserves in this country.
There's been no comment yet on the evening from Lewis' Las Vegas-based reps.
Maybe it's best not to speak of such things on Valentine's Day.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2000 -- The infectious bug that has been plaguing TV series of late -- you know, the "I feel that my time with the show is up and I've decided to move on" epidemic -- has claimed another victim.
The latest casualty is none other than "Veronica's Closet's" Kathy Najimy. Trade papers report today that the actress, who plays Olive, Veronica's (Kirstie Alley) trusted sidekick and confidant, will bid farewell to the NBC comedy at the end of this season.
Najimy tells Variety that her decision to leave the show is based purely on personal reasons. With "Veronica's Closet" behind, Najimy reportedly plans to spend more time with her 3-year-old daughter, not to mention more of the same said time on a would-be "feature career."
Of course, the concept of "leaving" "Veronica's Closet" might become a moot point. The unbeloved comedy series, now in its third season, was already benched once this season by NBC for low ratings. It is currently mired in 85th place among all shows and is considered a long shot for fall renewal.
SUPERHERO SAVES FOX: Patrick Warburton, the guy who played Elaine's mechanic beau Dave Puddy on "Seinfeld," will return to the tube in the form of a blue superhero in the Fox comedy pilot "The Tick."
Once a Saturday morning toon on Fox, "The Tick" follows the adventures of a dim-witted crime fighter and his ex-accountant sidekick as they battle bad guys with names such as Chairface Chippendale, El Seed and Breadmaster.
The new live-action half-hour pilot will be directed by the enthusiastic Barry Sonnenfeld ("Wild Wild West").
"I've been a huge fan of 'The Tick' for years," Sonnenfeld told the Hollywood trade papers. "I like it even more than my 6-year-old daughter. It's really up my alley. It doesn't feel like anything on television today."
(Let us guess -- Mr. Sonnenfeld doesn't have cable.)
Warburton, meanwhile, has handled superhero duties prior to "The Tick." Dig this, "Seinfeld" fiends, the actor was the voice of Superman in those American Express commercials starring Jerry Seinfeld.
'LEEZA' IS DEAD: No, not Leeza Gibbons, but her fast-sinking eponymous talk show. Cause of its likely death? Ultra-bad ratings.
Word on the street is that "Leeza" will not live to see a second season in syndication.
The daytime talk show went through various transformation and network shuffles in its (technically) 7-year history. It was first conceived by NBC in 1993 as "John & Leeza," the John, of course, being Gibbons' "Entertainment Tonight" co-hort John Tesh. The show downsized to simply "Leeza" in 1994 when the above-mentioned Tesh bailed. In September, NBC decided to sell the show to non-NBC outlets, thereby banishing the show to syndication.
"LIP" SERVICE: Oscar- and Emmy-winning director-producer James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment," "As Good As It Gets," "Jerry Maguire") is set to endow the tube with a live-action romantic comedy series for ABC.
The comedy, still untitled, will be based on a character from the 1988 radio series "Lip Schtick." Joan Cusack, whom Brooks collaborated with on the 1987 flick "Broadcast News," will stake the title role.
Slated for a slot in ABC's 2000-2001 lineup, the show will mark Cusack's prime-time debut and Brook's first TV gig since his stint as the executive producer of the animated series "The Critic" in 1994.
RANDOM BITS: NBC has picked up a half-hour comedy pilot starring David Alan Grier ("In Living Color"). Grier is slated to play a Secret Service man in charge of protecting the first lady. ...
... CBS has greenlit a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced ("Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor") drama pilot for the new fall season. The project is said to be an hour-long drama called "CSI." Starring William Petersen, the series revolves around forensic crime-scene investigators working in Vegas. ...
THE COURT OF POPULAR OPINION: Democracy sometimes flourishes in the most unlikely places, just ask Judge Judy -- one of the many, many finalists chosen by TV viewers of America for the 2nd Annual TV Guide Awards.
More than 1.5 million viewers cast ballots to determine nominees in 22 categories. NBC led all networks in mentions with 20 finalists. Winners will be announced March 5 in a Fox broadcast.
Here's the complete list of the TV Guide Award nominees, as announced today:
Favorite Actor in a New Series David Boreanaz, "Angel" (WB) Billy Campbell, "Once and Again" (ABC) Dan Futterman, "Judging Amy" (CBS) Martin Sheen, "The West Wing" (NBC)
Favorite Actress in a New Series Amy Brenneman, "Judging Amy" (CBS) Tyne Daly, "Judging Amy" (CBS) Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC) Sela Ward, "Once and Again" (ABC)
Favorite Actor in a Comedy Bill Cosby, "Cosby" (CBS) Michael J. Fox, "Spin City" (ABC) David Hyde Pierce, "Frasier" (NBC) Ray Romano, "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS)
Favorite Actress in a Comedy Jenna Elfman, "Dharma & Greg" (ABC) Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal" (FOX) Lisa Kudrow, "Friends" (NBC) Phylicia Rashad, "Cosby" (CBS)
Favorite Actor in a Drama David Duchovny, "The X-Files" (FOX) David James Elliott, "JAG" (CBS) Dennis Franz, "NYPD Blue" (ABC) Sam Waterston, "Law & Order" (NBC)
Favorite Actress in a Drama Gillian Anderson, "The X-Files" (FOX) Roma Downey, "Touched by an Angel" (CBS) Melina Kanakaredes, "Providence" (NBC) Julianna Margulies, "ER" (NBC)
Favorite New Series "Judging Amy" (CBS) "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC) "Once and Again" (ABC) "The West Wing" (NBC)
Favorite Comedy Series "Ally McBeal" (FOX) "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS) "Frasier" (NBC) "Friends" (NBC)
Favorite Drama Series "ER" (NBC) "Providence" (NBC) "The Practice" (ABC) "Touched by an Angel" (CBS)
Favorite Soap Opera "All My Children" (ABC) "Days of Our Lives" (NBC) "General Hospital" (ABC) "The Young and the Restless" (CBS)
Favorite Sportscaster Terry Bradshaw (FOX) Bob Costas (NBC) Howie Long (FOX) John Madden (FOX)
Favorite Daytime Talk Show "Judge Judy" (Syndicated) "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" (Syndicated) "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Syndicated) "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" (Syndicated)
Favorite Game Show "Hollywood Squares" (Syndicated) "Jeopardy!" (Syndicated) "Wheel of Fortune" (Syndicated) "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (ABC)
Favorite News Personality Tom Brokaw (NBC) Katie Couric (NBC) Peter Jennings (ABC) Matt Lauer (NBC)
Favorite Late Night Show "Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS) "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher" (ABC) "Saturday Night Live" (NBC) "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC)
ONLINE NOMINEES Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB) "Charmed" (WB) "The X-Files" (FOX)
Favorite Reality TV "Biography" (A&E) "Behind the Music" (VH1) "The Real World" (MTV)
Favorite TV Pet Eddie, "Frasier" (NBC) Happy, "7th Heaven" (WB) Salem, "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC)
Favorite TV Movie or Miniseries "Annie" (ABC) "Joan of Arc" (NBC) "Tuesdays with Morrie" (ABC)
Favorite News Program "Dateline NBC" (NBC) "Entertainment Tonight" (Syndicated) "20/20" (ABC)
Favorite Music Show "Behind the Music" (VH1) "Total Request Live" (MTV) "Pop-Up Video" (VH1)
Favorite Children's Show "Blue's Clues" (Nickelodeon) "Rugrats" (Nickelodeon) "Sesame Street" (PBS)
AOL KEYWORD: TV GUIDE EXCLUSIVE CATEGORY
Favorite Teen Show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB) "Dawson's Creek" (WB) "Popular" (WB)
If the Gallup pollsters of America had their way, "The Sixth Sense" and "Big Daddy" would sweep the Academy Awards. The two films dominated the film categories at the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards on Sunday night at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
"The Sixth Sense," which also stands a strong chance of Oscar nomination, won awards for Favorite Motion Picture and Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture; its star, its star, Bruce Willis, picked up the award for Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Drama.
"Big Daddy," which stands virtually no chance at an Oscar nomination (unless voters suddenly concoct a Best Achievement in Spitballs category), won for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture; Adam Sandler won Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Comedy.
Julia Roberts, who scored a double box-office whammy last summer with "Notting Hill" and "Runaway Bride," bested Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock for Favorite Motion Picture Actress, while Calista Flockhart and Jennifer Love Hewitt tearfully accepted their awards for Favorite Female Television Performer and Favorite Female Television Performer in a New Series, respectively.
"I don't know why I'm so shaky right now," Flockhart said backstage. "I think that one of the reasons I became an actress is to have a night like this."
During the telecast, winners such as Flockhart were taken behind the scenes to meet the media hounds -- reporters hungry for good sound bites, not to mention the tasty little sandwiches that seemed to keep disappearing. Some backstage highlights:
TRUE CONFESSIONS? Sandler, upon accepting his awards for "Big Daddy," declared that he had "slept with 6,000 women," a revelation that caused the cast of "Stark Raving Mad" to pause in their press conference to watch on the monitor. Ford countered by humbly noting in his acceptance speech, "I made love to the two women Adam hasn't made love to."
SOMEONE'S BITTER: Matthew Perry, presenting the favorite dramatic-film actor category, lamented that he wasn't nominated for his film turn in "Three to Tango" (which wasn't even a drama, but whatever works for a joke). When members of the crowd screamed back, "We love you, Matthew!" He retorted, "Evidently, not enough."
WHAT NOT TO ASK: Jennifer Aniston thought she had escaped The Brad Question (as in, "When are you marring Mr. Pitt?") backstage after the "Friends'" win. But one reporter managed to call it out to her as she was leaving. The good-natured Aniston just patted her arm and said, "Oh, come now," before she disappeared.
BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS ACT: Haley Joel Osment, the 11-year-old co-star of "The Sixth Sense," is on top of the world, or so it seems to Bruce Willis. Said Willis of Osment's recent Golden Globe nomination: "I expected it. I also expect him to get an Oscar nomination, too ... I never felt like I was working with a kid. People would ask me how it was working with 'the kid,' and I would have to correct them." Osment, meanwhile, is looking to other things. "I actually really want to do stage work," he said. "I know a lot of people went the other way, starting in theater and moving to film, but I'd really like the experience." (Maybe he could play Hamlet, since that guy saw dead people, too.)
WHAT'S HIS NAME AGAIN? The bleacher crowd outside the Pasadena Civic served as a cheering section for any star walking down the red carpet. But despite the likes of Julia Roberts and Calista Flockhart waving and smiling, the biggest cheers went to Betty White ("Ladies' Man"), who was delighted when the audience shouted her name, and Neil Patrick Harris of NBC's "Stark Raving Mad." However, Harris soon found it would be long before he escaped his 1980s television role when the mostly Gen-X crowd chanted, "DOOGIE! DOOGIE!"
SPOTTED: At least one (male) journalist bopping up and down when a video clip of the Backstreet Boys' bubble-gum pop anthem "I Want it That Way" was aired.
Here's a complete rundown of the winners at the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards:
Favorite Motion Picture: "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Motion Picture Actor: Harrison Ford Favorite Motion Picture Actress: Julia Roberts Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture: "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Comedy Motion Picture: "Big Daddy" Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Drama: Bruce Willis, "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Comedy: Adam Sandler, "Big Daddy" Favorite Television Dramatic Series: "ER," NBC Favorite Television Comedy Series: "Friends," NBC Favorite Male Television Performer: Drew Carey, "The Drew Carey Show" Favorite Female Television Performer: Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal" Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series: Billy Campbell, "Once and Again" Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series: Jennifer Love Hewitt, "Time of Your Life" Favorite New Comedy Series: (voted online) "Stark Raving Mad," NBC Favorite New Dramatic Series: (voted online) "Providence," NBC Favorite Musical Group: Backstreet Boys Favorite Male Artist: Ricky Martin Favorite Female Artist: Shania Twain
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.
Presidential inquisitor Leonardo DiCaprio may have found his Hillary Clinton, so to speak. Cameron Diaz, late of that mess that is "Charlie's Angel's," is in talks to costar opposite Leo in "Gangs of New York," Daily Variety says. Martin Scorsese's big-budget ($80 mil) gangland drama is due to start shooting in August. "Charlie's Angels" should be long wrapped by then. Should be.
OPENING "DOORS": Meg Ryan, who played against romantic-comedy type as a hippie in Oliver Stone's "The Doors," will play against romantic-comedy type in the Stone-directed drama about international relief workers, Variety says. "Beyond Borders" costars Kevin Costner.
THE CABLE GUY: Ex-"Chicago Hope" star Peter Berg, whose late mental-ward drama "Wonderland" drew cable-esque (i.e., minuscule) ratings for ABC, has inked a two-year deal to develop drama series for HBO where minuscule ratings are acceptable and sometimes laudable.