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Kats On Jerry Lewis: At 90, A New Movie And A One-Man Stage Show

Jerry Lewis and John Katsilometes at the Las Vegas premiere of the movie, “Max Rose” on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Regal Village Square Stadium 18.
Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Jerry Lewis and John Katsilometes at the Las Vegas premiere of the movie, “Max Rose” on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Regal Village Square Stadium 18.

John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal stopped by our studios to talk about Jerry Lewis.

Lewis is very much an active entertainer at the age of 90. 

He has a new movie, "Max Rose"in theaters. The Las Vegas premiere was this past Saturday at the Regal Village Square theater near Summerlin.

Big name Las Vegas talent was there for the legendary entertainer, including Penn and Teller, Carrot Top, Wayne Newton, Marty Allen, Tony Orlando, Criss Angel, and Melody Sweets.

This weekend, Lewis has a one-man stage show at the South Point Hotel showroom.


What was the atmosphere at the premiere like?

It was really electric. When everybody walked in and you were in there with Jerry Lewis watching a Jerry Lewis movie, it was pretty special.

The movie has received kind reviews but not stellar reviews. Does it matter?

Everything I've read has been some version of 'It's great to see Jerry Lewis in front of the camera.' That's why you're in the movie. I think that's what carries the movie and he does carry it. 

He's involved in every scene. A lot of script for him and the character he plays is very moving, very sobering, very poignant, at times, very powerful.

Tell us backstory of his performance in "Max Rose."

I talked to Jerry two times at his house before the release of this movie. And I know he's got such affection for his wife Sam...  In the second interview, I asked him if he thought of his wife when he was playing the character Max Rose, who finds out after his wife's death that she might have had a romantic affair. He said he had imagined if that had been Sam. He recounted that story to the audience in a Q and A afterward. He said, 'I love this woman so ferociously that I had to take the role.' She was the motivation behind the character.

What is Lewis going to be doing on stage at the South Point?

He's going to be on his director chair and he'll be introducing and sort of narrating clips from his TV and film career and some home movies as well.

There are examples of him on the "Colgate Comedy Hour" with Dean Martin. There's a couple clips of him from the telethon. There's one great, if he uses it, moment with Norm Crosby and Shecky Greene where they're telling a series of jokes. Three of them lined up telling one joke after another. It gets funnier and funnier with each joke.

Why do you think he is still working?

I think it's because it's his passion and because he can. That's just what he does. He has the requisite physical consequences of being 90 but I'm telling you this guy is so mentally sharp. 

He's a very able man mentally. So he wants to share that. He loves being in front of audiences. He loves seeing people and knowing that people will turn out for him.





John Katsilometes, Columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of "Kats! on the Radio" on KUNV Radio, Las Vegas

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.