Jerry Lewis is not a fan of reality television.
The star of Encore’s upcoming “Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis,” a documentary about the 85-year-old comedian’s life and career, took aim at weight loss reality shows and the contestants who try out for FOX juggernaut “American Idol” on Friday at the Television Critics Association Summer Session 2011 in Beverly Hills.
“The kids they get on ‘American Idol,’ they’re all McDonalds’ wipeouts… They all worked there and now they’re doing that,” he said of the people who try out for the show.
“We don’t have the soul in our industry that we had when I was working in it,” he continued. “The soul has been desperately deteriorating [in] it, only because you’ve got a guy running a network whose aunt died and left him some stock.”
The long time host of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon said he finds himself disturbed by the state of programming across the networks.
“I don’t allow people in my family to use the term TV — it’s television, it’s a miracle, it’s entitled to respect,” he said. “We ran home to see [Milton] Berle on Tuesday night. Nobody wants to run home and see anything anymore… The industry has destroyed itself… and we can fix it.”
Jerry also took aim at entertainment’s new modes of accessibility – like being able to watch movies on mobile phone devices.
“You’re gonna put ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on that stupid son of a b****? That gets me crazy,” he ranted.
While Jerry had plenty to take aim at, he also offered praise for one funnyman he thinks is supremely talented.
“Jim Carrey – [he’s the] most brilliant physical comedian we’ve had,” Jerry said. “He’s as good as they get… but of course you cannot deny Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, you cannot deny them.”
During his visit to the TCAs, Jerry also dispelled rumors he was departing the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, noting he’d have an official announcement on Sept. 5.
“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” will air on Encore this fall.