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Jerry Lewis film ‘Method To Madness’ airs tonight

Jerry Lewis documentary 'Method to Madness' is serious business
Jerry Lewis documentary 'Method to Madness' is serious business
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Jerry Lewis, internationally recognized comedian and humanitarian, is the subject of a new documentary showcasing the actor's behind the scenes genius in Method To Madness.

The NYTimes reports that unlike other celebrity bios that focus on fame and scandal, the film is a serious take on Lewis’ career (past and present), giving viewers an unprecedented look at the performer's work beyond his notoriety as a wacky comedian or telethon host.

In his 50+ years in show business, the thespian’s career has spanned vaudeville, Vegas, TV and film -- working as a writer, producer and director in addition to his physical comedy (often including music and choreography).

Like musician and actor Desi Arnaz, Lewis' behind the scenes accomplishments in production techniques and business affairs were overshadowed and overlooked by his fame as a performer – such as his development and first use of video-assist on location.

The Stooge performer, however, has proven that he is nobody's fool.

The Nutty Professor star taught classes in directing at the University of Southern California for 9 years (starting in the late 1960’s), which included students Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, E.T.), George Lucas (Star Wars, American Graffiti, the Indiana Jones series), Peter Bogdanovich (Mask, Paper Moon), and Randal Kleiser (Grease, The Blue Lagoon, Big Top Pee-wee).

After more than 3 years of filming, the Gregg Barson directed documentary, Method to Madness will premiere tonight on Encore at 8 p.m. EST Saturday (12/17/11). Other airings include 11:30 a.m. EST Sunday and 8 p.m. EST Tuesday.

Barson is said to have beat out more than a dozen filmmakers pursuing Lewis – who has been busy teaching classes in filmmaking at California’s Chapman University since last year.

Did you know? Jerry Lewis was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his decades of working to raise money for muscular dystrophy.

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