Jerry Lewis collapse: The movie?

Comic's bid for film cash

The producer who brought Jerry Lewis to London five years ago, only for him to collapse before taking to the Palladium stage, is trying to make a movie out of the incident.

American stand-up comedian Steven Alan Green already made a one-man Edinburgh show out of Lewis’s health scare, is now hawking a script around Hollywood based on that ill-fated night.

He is being helped in his quest to get the film made by Julian Krainin, the producer of Robert Redford’s Oscar-nominated film Quiz Show.

Krainin had been trying to develop a film about Jerry Lewis when he saw Green’s 2003 Fringe show I Eat People Like You for Breakfast, and asked him to collaborate.

Green has now written a screenplay called How I Nearly Killed Jerry Lewis - Or Why Dean Drank.

He said it was about how he ‘convinced his childhood hero to participate in one of the greatest comedy extravaganzas ever mounted on the stage of the London Palladium’.

In the event, the show was a disaster. It was poorly attended and overbooked, so it ran desperately late.

Lewis collapsed backstage moments before he was due to appear at the end of the show. With typical hyperbole, Green now describes it as a ‘near fatal collapse in the wings’; although an ambulance crew treated him at the sage door, without needing a hospital stay – prompting rumours that the king of the pratfalls had deliberately chosen not to appear on stage. Such claims have always been vehemently denied by Lewis's representatives, and the comic has long suffered health problems.

Green, who modestly describes his script as ‘promising to be one of the best

backstage stories of all time’ is now trying to secure funding for his pet project, and is looking at both the UK and America for the cash.

He said: ‘The film takes place about half in London and half in LA. And although Jerry's legend looms much larger in America than in England these days, as I unfortunately found out on September 8, 2002 at the Palladium — in many ways I see this as an essentially British film.

‘Richard Curtis personally told me that he could easily see actors queuing up to play many of the roles depicted in the screenplay.

‘I think it's a very interesting story of self-discovery, as well as a revealing and honest behind-the-scenes depiction of the world of comedy and showbusiness in both Hollywood and in London.’

Published: 13 Mar 2007

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.