Last night: Jerry Lewis, Legend with a capital L, was interviewed for one hour by Oscar winning director Martin Scorsese at the wonderful Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. You know that Lewis starred in Scorsese’s “King of Comedy” in 1982, a modern classic. In the audience last night: Steve Buscemi, Emmy winning star of Scorsese’s HBO hit series “Boardwalk Empire.”
Scorsese and Lewis had a great discussion about film, and Lewis as a trailblazer director. I will post highlights a little later.
After the the one hour talk, I was backstage with Scorsese and Lewis, who will turn 90 in March 2016. Jerry is sharper than a tack, hilariously funny, and dead serious when he comes to filmmaking. We covered a lot of subjects in a short time, but two things stuck out.
One: does he listen to Dean Martin’s music at all? Does he have a favorite song? Martin and Lewis were one of the most famous comedy teams in history until they broke up in 1956. They didn’t speak for years but finally made up in 1989, a few years before Martin’s death in 1995.
Jerry jumped right in at the question: “All the time. Oh yeah.” A favorite song? “All of it. I hear it all. I have it on two Bose units in my home, in my car, in my office.” Does it make him feel good? “Yes, but it’s a tough feeling because I wish he was here.” I tell him what a fan of I was of Dean Martin. Jerry was emphatic: “You should be. Everyone was a fan of my partner’s.”
The other burning question for tonight: will he ever release “The Day the Clown Cried”? The answer, emphatically, is NO. “Why should I?” he asked rhetorically. The unreleased film is about a clown who is put to death by the Nazis with Jewish children.
“It’s bad work. The director did bad work,” Lewis said. meaning Lewis himself. When I told him that someone tried to release clips from it last year, he scoffed. “It’s never coming out,” he said. End of story. “I have the last 400 feet [of film] in a vault.”
He did tell me that he subbed for Johnny Carson for six weeks as host of the Tonight show back in 1962. “Johnny was out, getting a sex change,” Jerry said.
I’ll do an update later on Wednesday. Jerry was just marvelous, as usual, funny, with great timing, and gave Scorsese terrific insights. Scorsese was glowing, he was so happy.
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