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TCA Critic’s Summer Notebook: Lewis’ MDA Labors Are Ended

8/08/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Los Angeles — Jerry
Lewis didn’t elaborate
much about his future
with the annual Muscular
Dystrophy Association
during his appearance last
month at Starz’s presentation
at the recent Television
Critics Association’s
summer tour (the cablenetwork
portion). But
last week, MDA officials
ended all speculation
about the legendary actor’s
nearly half-century
participation in the event
when they confirmed in
a press release that the 85-
year old Lewis will not appear
on this year’s Labor
Day Telethon telecast.

Lewis, who was at the
TCA to discuss his Starz documentary Method to the Madness
of Jerry Lewis
, would not confi rm or deny his appearance
at this year’s MDA telethon when asked by a TV critic,
saying that it was none of the questioner’s business. Lewis,
who had hosted the telethon for nearly a half-century, also
said he was going to hold a Labor Day press conference to
discuss “what I think is important,” but it’s unclear whether
that will still take place.

Other notable celebrity quotes during cable’s sergment of
the TCA fortnight at the Hollywood Hilton:

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem, during a session promoting
HBO’s new documentary series Gloria: In Her Own Words,
was asked about the fall debut of arguably female objectifying
series including Charlie’s Angels (ABC), The Playboy Club
(NBC) and Pan Am (ABC): “The very worst men are into sadomasochism,
and the very best men are into
nostalgia. So I think this is like the nostalgia
industry.”


Rosie O’Donnell
, promoting her new talk
show The Rosie Show on OWN: The Oprah
Winfrey Network, was asked whether her show
will be inspirational or uplifting:

“I’m inspirational in that the people at
home so relate to me that they feel as though
they could be at the table with Madonna or
whoever … Nobody is at home going, ‘God, if I
could only be Rosie O’Donnell, an overweight
lesbian who yells too much.’ ”


Mark Wahlberg
, at HBO’s Entourage panel, said of a
possible film version of the series: “I said if I had to finance
it myself, I would do it. I was looking at that [HBO Entourage]
clip on the big screen, and it looks like a movie to me.
I mean, you have to take into consideration that anytime
HBO cuts a promo reel together, it’s the f***ing greatest
thing you’ve ever seen. But I certainly hope that this has a
chance to become a feature film.”

And Roseanne Barr interrupted Lifetime Networks
president Nancy Dubuc’s opening remarks about Lifetime
and Barr’s new show, Roseanne’s Nuts, with: “They
just told me to come out here and, like, interrupt you.
What a privilege it is for you to have me here this afternoon.
And I mean that ... I really do.”

‘Whisker Wars’ Hits N.Y.:
Manhattan Hosts Contest,
IFC Staffer Wins Trophy


NEW YORK —
Ahead of the Aug. 5 launch of IFC’s Whisker
Wars
, the Thom Beers-produced show about men who
enter contests to determine who has the best
beard, the network threw a party last Wednesday
night in the East Village. Suitably it was at The
Blind Barber, a combination barber shop and bar.

Also suitably, the network staged a beard competition.
Judges were stars of the show, including
Jack Passion, a two-time world beard champion,
and Myk O’Connor, a beard competitor and Gotham
City Beard Alliance member.

In Whisker Wars, members of Beard Team USA,
overseen by team founder Phil Olsen, compete
against each other in regional events and a national
tournament, preparing for the World Beard
and Moustache Championships in Trondhjem,
Norway, last May.

Jack Passion, possessor of flowing red beard
and author of The Facial Hair Handbook, dominates
the sport in the U.S. and has Olsen’s full
backing. But, in the show, anti-Passion factions
emerge and a Texas posse called the Austin Facial
Hair Club rebels openly against Olsen.

At the party, it was all fun and games, at least until
Austin club member and Passion antagonist Alex La-
Roche
gave Olsen a throat-cutting gesture when Olsen
had the microphone giving thanks to IFC. Olsen didn’t
appear to appreciate getting the hook.

Afterward, Olsen told The Wire: “I’ve spent the last 10
years promoting the sport of bearding worldwide, always
with the goal of making the sport inclusive and bringing
people together.” He said he’d like to feel “I deserve
some credit in bringing people together in the way that
I have.”

He also said he raises the $5,000 prize given out at
the U.S. championships, the next of which will be Oct. 8
in Lancaster, Pa. (He asked The Wire for that plug.)

At the bar contest, emceed by Austin’s Miletus Callahan,
a strong bid was put forth
by comely Karolina Gwiazda, who
is O’Connor’s girlfriend and beard
coach. Sadly, her yarn beard
didn’t carry the day.

The winner was Josh Bark, a
member of IFC’s P.R. staff who
was busy last week arranging
consumer-press interviews by the
show’s cast. Callahan said the
trophy was being awarded contingent
on Bark growing his beard
out for the next year. Bark, saying
“I want to keep my girlfriend,”
later interpreted that to mean he
needed to keep his short beard
for a year.

That kind of tension is on display
all the time in IFC’s Whisker
Wars
, Fridays at 11 p.m.

Green ‘Games’ Win
Viewers for Disney,
Cash for Charity


Disney Channel
’s star power can make even environmentally-
friendly programming score with its tween
audience.

Nearly 3 million viewers on average tuned into Disney
Channel’s five-week interstitial series Disney Friends for
Change
Games, watching more than 30 Disney Channel
and Disney XD stars compete in Simi Valley, Calif.,
to raise funds for various green-friendly charities. The
environmentally-themed Friends for Change Games outperformed
the more Olympic event-based Disney Channel
Games series in 2007 and 2008. Stars then were
then-hot Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale and Kyle Massey.

The 32 five- to seven-minute interstitials and two
half-hour telecasts aired June 24 to July 31 and were intended
to build awareness of environmental issues, Eric
Covert
, vice president of creative content and production
for Disney ABC Television Group, told The Wire.


Bridgit Mendler
(Good Luck Charlie), China Anne Mc-Clain (A.N.T. Farm) and Zendaya Coleman (Shake It Up)
joined stars doing “environmentally friendly” tasks such
as separating out recyclable materials and placing them
in appropriate bins. About 1.3 million
Disney viewers cast votes for their favorite teams and
charities on the Friends for Change Games site at Disney.com. The “red team” won both the on-air competition
and the fan polling contest, raising $350,000 for the
World Wildlife Fund.

September