EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally ran on Aug. 4, 2011, after it was announced that Lewis would not be back to host his final MDA Telethon. In light of the holiday weekend, we thought it was worth revisiting.
At a press conference last week, Jerry Lewis pulled no punches when it came to his opinion on American Idol: He hated the show and its contestants, sorry, "McDonald's wipeouts" about as much as The Biggest Loser, which in his book was also worthy of disdain.
But did American Idol have the last laugh?
On Wednesday, the Muscular Dystrophy Association announced Lewis had "completed his run" as its national chairman. Translation: He was out, and not just of his position, but of his gig with the MDA's annual Labor Day telethon.
As in, Lewis will not appear on next month's show.
As in, Jerry no longer has custody of his "kids."
The announcement was stunning considering it was a reversal from one in May. In that release, MDA and Lewis said the 85-year-old legend was retiring from the telethon, but that he would stay on as the group's national chairman, and that he would appear on this year's telethon for one final swan song. ("You'll Never Walk Alone," to be precise.)
The new announcement was also curious in that, as noted, it came but days after Lewis' anti-Idol rant.
Did we mention Idol bigwig Nigel Lythgoe is cohosting this year's telethon?
So, what, if anything, changed between MDA and Lewis from May to Wednesday? And did what happen, assuming something happened, have anything to do with Idol? (And, yes, we know Biggest Loser's Alison Sweeney is cohosting the MDA telethon, too, but the all-powerful Idol just lends itself better to conspiracy theories than weight-loss shows.)
Conspiracy Corner talked to the poor MDA flack who had the task Thursday of fielding reporters' phone calls, and presumably reading a script to each. No matter what we asked, we got the same responses: "A transition has been in place for sometime...MDA truly respects Jerry Lewis...[This year's telethon] will reflect our profound appreciation for Jerry Lewis."
We could've asked if the sky was blue, if Tupac Shakur was alive, or if Lewis' words before the Television Critics Association got the comic canned (and, as far as that last question goes, we did—ask it, that is), and we would've gotten: "A transition has been in place for sometime..."
Lewis' publicist was more helpful, but had about as many answers.
Candi Cazou told Conspiracy Corner she knew nothing of Wednesday's MDA announcement until contacted by the press. Lewis was out of town, meaning out of Las Vegas, she told us, and he was declining to comment on the situation.
As for conspiracy theories…
"From what I'm reading, he made a comment about American Idol, but so what?" Cazou told us. "I don't know if anything is strung together."
Even without commenting, Lewis himself may have already given us answers.
At last week's press conference, Lewis was described as reluctant and cryptic when questions turned to his future with the MDA and the telethon—an odd reaction if, per May's announcement, those matters had already been settled.
Or, then again, not an odd reaction if those matters hadn't been settled.
Put it all together, and Conspiracy Corner presumes Lewis and the MDA were on shaky ground even before Lewis' Idol remarks made headlines.
Guess the "wipeouts" only do sold-out concerts, and not rubouts.