July 29, 2011 / 8:54 PM / 7 years ago

Jerry Lewis tight-lipped on telethon role

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Veteran entertainer Jerry Lewis on Thursday brushed aside questions about media reports that he was retiring as host of the annual U.S. telethon for muscular dystrophy, suggesting they were false.

Actor and comedian Jerry Lewis is interviewed as he arrives at a special screening of his film "The Nutty Professor" at Paramount Studios in Hollywood October 12, 2004. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Lewis, 85, announced in May that he would be making his final performance this September on the telethon he has hosted since 1966, and would sing his signature song “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

At the time, the comedian and actor did not give a reason for the final appearance, but a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association said the program would be changing its format from a 21-1/2 hour telethon on the U.S. Labor Day holiday to a six-hour broadcast.

Asked to reflect on his upcoming final telethon appearance, Lewis told TV journalists here at a bi-annual gathering of critics that they should not believe everything they read.

“Who told you that? I never read it,” he said. “Anything you read, read it twice.

Asked to clarify what his role would be on the telethon, Lewis refused to specify, telling another reporter. “It is none of your business.”

“I didn’t mean to sound rude but on September 5, the day after that program, I will have an international press conference... and I will have plenty to say about what I think is important and that is the future, not the past,” he added.

Lewis made his remarks while promoting an upcoming Starz TV documentary about his life in showbusiness.

Despite railing against reality TV shows and claiming that the life had been “sucked out” of the TV and movie industry” by commercial pressure, Lewis described himself as “the happiest old man you ever ever saw in your life.”

Asked whether he felt he had fulfilled his destiny, he replied. “Not yet, but I am coming close” adding that he would not be satisfied until he had helped “get the cure for muscular dystrophy.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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