Thursday night was an amazing event held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Do you see Jerry Lewis in that pic? Well... can you see him in the image on the screen?
The truth is, I didn't know much about Jerry Lewis' career. I've seen his movies and his telethons, but I had no idea how huge of a role he had in the advancement of filmmaking. He was one of the first to use this significantly smaller (soon portable) sound recorder (check out the pic). He told us stories of how excited Paramount was to adopt the now cheaper technology -- and how much they loved him for introducing it!
His biggest stand on technological development, though, was that he would never incorporate a new technology that would take away jobs. He would never bring in something new, if it meant he had to fire one of his friends.
I truly respected his love for his crew. He joked how they would mess around and make fun of each other, but there was love there. I liked that.
Now, back to the "You shouldn't yell that at the Academy."
I went to this event on my own. I wasn't 100% sure I would be able to go, so I didn't make plans with another person (that's my excuse on the surface...but the truth is, sometimes it's more fun to go solo!). I found a seat on the aisle, met the various people around me, and settled in. There was one seat left open next to me. Remember that for later...
As I sat waiting for the show to start, I realized that the people around me were super on edge. They were agitated by the simplest things. They were rude, pushy. Plus they all smelled like my grandmother's perfume...
I had enough time to come up with this conclusion: The people in the room could fall under 5 categories.
1. People who are there to have a good time.
2. People who are there to be seen.
3. People who are hoping they don't do anything embarrassing.
4. People who think the world owes them something.
5. People who think everyone around them is a God in the industry. (and then the crazies who think THEY are the God).
hmmmm....kinda sounds like all of the people in this industry...
About 20 minutes into the talk, just as Jerry Lewis was telling us how he fought Paramount Pictures from selling his Ladies Man set (see pic above), an older couple sat next to me. They had to split up because there were no available 2-seats, so a much older man was now sitting next to me. That's not a problem, of course, except that he couldn't figure out how to turn off his phone. I didn't know what kind of phone it was, so I couldn't really help either. Now, I wish I had tried... but I didn't want to miss Jerry!!
-- to help tell this story, Guy 1 = New Guy & Guy 2 = Guy who I talked to earlier --
Here we go.
Guy 1 sits down and tries to turn off his phone. He can't. The light stays on and annoys Guy 2. Keep in mind that we are in a lit theater, so I'm not sure why this light was so annoying. I really think this Guy 2 just wanted desperately to get angry with someone.
A few minutes later, the phone was still on.
Guy 2: Will you turn off that phone?
Guy 1: I'm trying!
Guy 2: It's like a bright light in my eyes!
Guy 1: Then don't look at it!
(People are staring at us)
Guy 2: Fuck you!
Guy 1: Fuck you!
(little bit louder now...)
Guy 2: Fuck you!
Guy 1: Fuck you!
(People are now turning around shhh-ing them and yelling "fuck you" back)
Guy 1: Tell him to shut up!
Guy 2: Fuck you!
At this point, the 7 security guards are now surrounding us and staring. Standing practically on top of me. Guy 1 puts the phone in his pocket. Keep in mind that I'm on the edge of this row - sitting next to two angry old men - as I desperately wanted to just hear Jerry Lewis.
Everything got quiet finally, and then over came the "head" security guard - with gorgeous hair.
Head security guard with unnaturally beautiful hair: (to Guy 1) That cell phone will not come back out of your pocket.
Guy 1: I had to take the battery out. It wouldn't turn off and this guy won't close his mouth.
Guy 2: (giggle...)
Pretty Hair Security guard: The phone does not come out of your pocket.
He stepped away. Every one was quiet. All I could hear was the heavy breathing from Guy 1 and then, oh yes Jerry Lewis! The fighting and yelling "Fuck you!" was over!
Thank you one million security guards 🙂
Back to Jerry --
He talked about his "Not Listening Stick" he would use to hit the actors if they weren't paying attention to his direction -- basically, if they are in their head instead of listening to the director. Clearly that cannot be done today.
Randall Kleiser - the director of Grease - was a student of Lewis' at USC and talked about his class. That conversation consisted a lot of Jerry Lewis asking Randall to repeat himself and talk louder. Again, like my grandmother... a lot of "What?!" But then when Jerry would get talking, every word was golden. He talked instead of in passion, but in action. Yes, he was passionate, but he is also a do-er. I appreciate people talking about how they took action rather than their theory of the industry. Both are great, I just like to hear actual experiences from the successful people!
The Q&A session was the most amazing ever. One actor got boo'd. (dear actors, do not raise your hand and say 'i am an actor' - you will get boo'd or grunted at - not by me, just by this so called Hollywood elite). One man stood up and faked a British accent. One 10 year old stood up and just said hi - Jerry teased him. And then, of all people, Hope Holiday stood up to say hi! Basically everyone was standing up to say "hi," rather than ask a question. But it was fun nonetheless.
When it was time for Jerry to go, we all stood up to applaud. In a matter of 5 seconds, about 20 security guards (where were they hiding??) lined the stage, staring at us audience members, daring us to charge the stage. Really? Is that a thing? People charge at Jerry Lewis? We could no longer see Jerry... but he was still talking somewhere behind those security guards!
I think my favorite part of the night was the moment all of my USC friends randomly found each other at the end of the night. None of us knew the other would be there, but we somehow managed to find each other and make a huge circle in the lobby. I wanted a group hug...but they weren't down with that. Whatever.