Jerry Lewis taking heat for gay comment

October 25, 2008 6:50:16 AM PDT
Jerry Lewis made an anti-gay slur on Australian television similar to one he apologized for using on his annual telethon a year ago Following a news conference in Sydney Friday, Lewis, 82, was asked by a Network Ten national TV reporter for his opinion on the Australian national sport of cricket.

"Oh, cricket? It's a f-- game. What are you, nuts?" Lewis replied.

The network broadcast the comment in full on its Friday evening news bulletin along with footage of Lewis handling an imaginary cricket bat with an effeminate gesture.

Lewis apologized in September last year for using a similar anti-gay slur in Las Vegas during his annual Labor Day telethon that raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

New York-based media discrimination watchdog Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, as well as gay rights group Australian Coalition for Equality called for Lewis to apologize again.

"Last year, Mr. Lewis apologized for using an anti-gay slur on live television, and expressed his desire to raise public awareness about the impact of this kind of defamation," GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement.

"Clearly he did not take the lessons of that unfortunate episode to heart because, in an effort to be humorous, he has once again managed to offend and defame the gay community," he said.

"For someone so well known for helping others, Mr. Lewis shows an incredible lack of dignity and respect when he makes comments that contribute to a climate of intolerance," Giuliano added.

Lewis was still in Australia on Saturday and has performances booked there through Nov. 1. His Australian spokeswoman Julie Cavanagh said he did not intend to comment.

The comedian held Friday's news conference to promote his latest stage show that is touring Australia. It is a retrospective of his career that includes show tunes with a 24-piece band, excerpts from his scores of movies and television shows, and his trademark slapstick comedy.

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