He turned 83 in March right after getting the Jean Hershholt Humanitarian Oscar. Jerry Lewis never looked better that night. We should have known he was up to something.

So now, Lewis is coming to the Cannes Film Festival on Friday to make an announcement: he’s going to star in his very own comeback film. I’m told it’s a dramatic role ‘about love’ and called, possibly, ‘Max Rose.’

Details are sketchy but the word is that financing is in place and that Lewis, who’s feeling great after some tricky health years, is ready to show new generations what made him a legend. He’s not going to exit this life as a telethon host.

Lewis has made on and off appearances on primetime TV shows over the years. His last actual feature film was a Peter Chelsom movie called ‘Funny Bones.’

Lewis has no acting Oscars or even Golden Globes (hard to believe since he could have just taken that crowd to Vegas for the weekend). He’s best remembered for movies like ‘The Nutty Professor’ and ‘Boeing Boeing’ among a string of hit comedies from the early 60s and late 50s. He actually has a credit for something that sounds hilariously awful called’ “How to Smuggle a Hernia’ Across the Border.’

But the pinnacle of Lewis’s film success came in 1982 with Martin Scorsese’s classic, ‘The King of Comedy.’ It’s a coincidence that Lewis is announcing his new film tomorrow since Scorsese is also in Cannes with the news that he’s making a film about Frank Sinatra, one of Lewis’s old cohorts from the halcyon days of the Rat Pack.

Lewis, by the way, told me at the Oscars that he wasn’t so much a fan of the recent hit Broadway adaptation of ‘Boeing Boeing.’ But it did encourage him to start planning a Broadway version of ‘The Nutty Professor,’ a project over which he would have total control. With that, he whacked the gold covered chocolate Oscar off its pedestal on his Governors Ball desert’for comic effect’and ate it in one bite.


What could you do if your house went into foreclosure? Here’s one possible solution: tie a million red yellow blue and green helium balloons to it and sail away.

That’s what Carl Fredericksen does in the new Pixar-Disney hit, ‘Up,’ which opened the 62nd Annual Festival de Cannes last night. Of course, it’s not foreclosure exactly on Carl’s mind. It’s just that he’s old and developers want his house. As a tribute to his late wife, Ellie, Carl decides to fly their home to a mountaintop and fulfill Ellie’s lifelong wish.

The audience loved ‘Up’ last night even though the American stars of the film’Edward Asner (Lou Grant!) and Christopher Plummer were not present. French legend Charles Aznavour was on hand though to kick off this year’s proceedings, and that did a lot to kickstart the mostly French audience into a frenzy. Aznavour is their Tony Bennett, so you know what means: adulation.

The opening night ceremonies also debut this year’s Cannes jury including head juror Isabelle Huppert, also a French icon, and Robin Wright Penn, the about to divorced from wife of Sean Penn who was last year’s head juror. The word is that Robin asked Sean to call Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux and get her seated on the jury. Maybe it’s part of the divorce. But it’s also a great idea. RPW has long labored under the radar as a fine actress. My prediction is that she really takes off now.

But back to ‘Up’: it’s a gamble for Pixar that the crux of their story is about an octogenarian on a mission. Ed Asner is not Justin Timberlake. The other voices’Plummer, Delroy Lindo’are no teen heartthrobs either. There’s only one young character, a sidekick boy named Russell played by newcomer Jordan Nagai. So there are publicity issues. But Pixar’s Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, and of course, John Lasseter, are at the point where they can bet the house, so to speak, on whatever they want. The result is that ‘Up’ is incredibly charming and moving, a great family picture that will have much resonance for the parents and grandparents who will take their kids in droves to see it.

There was a swanky after party following the premiere at the Palais, with so many food stations you’d never know there was a recession. I ran into actress Elizabeth Banks, looking gorgeous in a flowing Armani gown. She’s here as the first deployment of L’Oreal spokesmodels this week. Kerry Washington and a few others are due shortly. Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry was loping around the room, and Aznavour himself’dressed sharply in a white dinner jacket’was a magnet for paparazzi and fans.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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