TCA: Jerry Lewis Rants Against Reality TV

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TCA: Jerry Lewis Rants Against Reality TV image
Jerry Lewis doesnít like reality television; thatís pretty much what we can take away from the interview the 85-year-old actor gave to the press at the Television Critics Association on Friday. Lewisí opinion that television programming is going downhill isnít new, but his wrath is now particularly focused on the evils of reality programming. Lewis didnít pull any punches:

This business is scrounging around for what to do. The medium is busy knocking its brand out to display the fat lady at 375 pounds (who) in two months is gonna be 240. Who gives a shit?

The Biggest Loser wasnít Lewisí only target; he also ranted about huge reality television hit American Idol and complained that the industry is now only interested in programming that transfers well to new media -- particularly smartphones. He went on to complain that television has lost its ďsoulĒ and is no longer what it was in his glory days. Apparently, semantics are part of the problem; Lewis wonít even allow television to be called TV.

Certainly Jerry Lewis isnít the first of the old guard to complain that Hollywood is no longer putting out anything of quality. Itís an attitude shared by many of the remaining stars of televisionís early days, and it carries over into movies and music as well. Is it nostalgia for an aging starís lost youth, or is television really not what it used to be?

Certainly there is plenty of programming on today I would rather scratch my eyes out than watch, but at the same time cable networks are creating some of the most original, well-scripted series I have ever seen. The freedom from censorship that cable channels provide allows them to do things that werenít possible or permitted in Lewisí heyday.

Whether you agree with Lewisí opinion of reality TV or not, the fact is these shows are here to stay. Fortunately for those of us who prefer to watch something with a little more depth than a bunch of strangers willing to do anything on camera for their 15 minutes, it can be found. Perhaps Mr. Lewis is watching the wrong channels -- he is aware we have a choice, right?

Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis will premiere on Encore in the Fall.
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