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Where Are the Orphans?

Jerry's Orphans got Jerry Lewis on the run -- but where are the Orphans now when we need to hear from them?

This isn't going to be Verse 6, but it could be.

On our MediaCircus blog yesterday, we posted news of Jerry's Orphans heckling Our Jerry. CBS News reported it was a nasty exchange:

"When he spotted these activists in the audience that were in the front row in their wheelchairs, he even went so far as to say, 'These people are going to walk out of those chairs and drive home tonight. I bought those chairs for them,' " said witness John Gabrysiak.

Disability rights activists contend Lewis would benefit more people by focusing on issues such as accessible buildings and employment.

The Trib didn't seem to have anything, but the blog Chicagoist did. Matt Wood said Jerry'd become "unhinged."

The Chicago CBS News affiliate seemed to think the exchange was so interesting that they devoted a second-day story to it. Could be that they don't like Jerry much. He's run roughshod over a lot of reporters in his day.

People who attended Jerry Lewis' book promotion in Chicago Wednesday night are still talking about the legendary comedian's apparent meltdown.

CBS 2's Mike Parker reports things got nasty when Lewis was confronted by disability activists.

"I've never seen anything or been close to anything like this at all," said witness Doug Peterson....

"There were a lot of nasty comments," Peterson said. "On both sides."

Dave Hoeckstra over at the Sun-Times wrote a fairly adulatory piece on Jerry's book, but even there the incident got added to that story, at the end:

About 20 minutes into his discussion, about 10 protesters -- some in wheelchairs -- began playing tape-recorded insults on a loop and shouting at the comic actor about how the muscular dystrophy telethon, which he hosts, fosters pity for those with the disease.

Lewis tried to speak over the din, but he eventually left the stage and did not return

It's the controversy. Folks like controversy.

So, where are the Orphans? The crip emails and blogs don't seem to have anything from any of the Orphans who were doing the heckling.

And they seem to be avoiding the media.

CBS tried to get hold of them for a comment for its second-day story, and -- uh oh! "We tried to contact that group Thursday, but our calls were not returned."

I'm almost starting to hum Verse 5. But I know you don't want to hear it. All I'll say is, "what a wasted opportunity!"

It would really be great if the Orphans would call the reporters and talk about the issue. You'd think they'd want that, no? Aside from the talking points about Jerry's hostility itself (which alone would provide enough for a truly meaty story), there's another perfect story for the Orphans to talk about -- the Muscular Dystrophy camp that won't let volunteers with disabilities work there. What an opportunity to talk about MDA's campaign for cure at the expense of jobs! There's a number of good things that could be said about adults with MD wanting to work with kids who have MD, and not being allowed...

The fact that there's been so little media coverage may be that Jerry's machine is working to keep it out of the news. If so, that's hardly the first time it's happened. But at least CBS in Chicago wants to hear from the Orphans.

If the Orphans don't appear soon, and give their side of the story, the story will end up being about poor Jerry being dissed. After all, there were far more folks at the Library supporting Jerry than opposing him. In the end, the story that will get passed around is how the awful wheelchair folks ruined Jerry's event.

So where are the Orphans? Ya gotta wonder: didn't they anticipate media attention when they went to the library to heckle? Weren't they prepared? Where's their press statement?

Geez. What a wasted opportunity.

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