The Complete Martin Lewis Story
A successful producer of films, TV, stage-shows and records with Monty Python, Peter Cook, Billy Connolly and Rowan Atkinson in his early career - in the past eleven years Lewis has become a noted comedic performer on American TV and radio in his own right. He frequently appears on TV as a host, correspondent, commentator, contributor, interviewer or comedic actor. He has also become a successful writer - with his work appearing in TV programs, books, magazines, websites and his own one-man shows.
Additionally he is the creator-producer-host of an ongoing series of major film festivals and tributes presented by The American Cinematheque - honoring comedic performers ranging from Monty Python and Peter Cook to Peter Sellers and Richard Pryor.
He is frequently seen on topical TV talk shows offering satirical observation and serious commentary on political, social, legal, media and pop-cultural issues. In the past four years he has been prominently featured discussing the political turmoil arising from the Clinton Presidency, impeachment and the 2000 presidential elections. Among the many shows which have featured multiple appearances by Lewis are Politically Incorrect; CNN’s Talkback Live; Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor, Judith Regan Tonight, Fox Newswatch and Beyond The News; CNBC's Rivera Live and Equal Time; MSNBC’s Hardball, InterNight, NewsChat, NewsFront, At Issue, Morning Blend, Today In America and News With Brian Williams; and Court TV's Crier Report and Cochran & Co. Between 1999-2001 Lewis was special correspondent on Court TV's Pros & Cons - offering his satirical takes on the legal news.
He was a regular guest host of Robin Leach's Talking Food - the live, daily, one-hour, late-night celebrity talk-show seen nationally on the Food Network - taking over during host Robin Leach's absences from New York. For the shows, Lewis wrote and performed topical monologues and skits - and conducted in-depth interviews with celebrities. He is a popular talk-show guest himself - on programs such as Politically Incorrect; The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show; and on myriad talkshows on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, Court TV and Lifetime.
In 1997, he created and hosted his own live, celebrity talk-radio show called Un-Beatle-able! - with Martin Lewis. The program - which Lewis also produced - aired on KGIL in Los Angeles. Drawing on his reputation as a comedic host, Lewis personally booked all his guests - an eclectic group which included: Mike Myers, Bill Maher, Drew Barrymore, Martin Landau, Kathy Bates, Tom Arnold, Lee Grant, Michael York, Lynn Redgrave, Michelle Phillips, Janeane Garofalo, Dinah Manoff, Sid Caesar, Robin Leach, Leonard Maltin, Arianna Huffington, Kato Kaelin, Yoko Ono, Jeff Lynne, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Slash (ex-Guns 'N' Roses.)
He is a frequent studio contributor on major daytime magazine shows such as The Sally Jessy Raphael Show presenting a whimsical perspective on the excesses of contemporary pop culture - satirizing such phenomena as celebrity exercise videos and psychic hot lines. Previously he was a regular contributor on network shows such as ABC's Caryl & Marilyn and Mike & Maty; NBC's Leeza and John & Leeza - presenting his Martin's Mondo Video segment of amusing TV commercials from around the world - accompanied by his distinctive, witty commentary.
In recent years he has become a familiar television presence covering the Academy Awards and other award shows. His humorous Oscar previews have been seen on NBC, ABC, MSNBC, E! and the BBC. He has also made a considerable impact as a comedic correspondent reporting from the hottest Oscar parties - conducting off-the-wall interviews with stars such as Sharon Stone, Whoopi Goldberg, Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins, Martin Landau, Mike Myers, Sean Young, Elton John, Geena Davis and Matthew Broderick. After successive years contributing to ABC's annual live post-Oscar show - he was invited to take over from Paula Poundstone as special correspondent/co-anchor for E! TV's Oscar coverage - a role he has fulfilled every year since 1995.
In 1999 he was co-host and co-writer of two 6-hour live TV specials for E! He appeared in E!’s Countdown To The Golden Globes and E!’s Countdown To The Academy Awards. Both specials included his Martin's Nominee Tips! - a series of humorous hints for frazzled nominees.
Lewis has been intimately involved in the creative process of several TV programs which have broken ratings records for their networks. He was the sole writer of what became the highest-rated show in VH1's history - the very first Divas Live - the 1998 VH1 Honors special which launched VH1’s Divas franchise. In addition to writing all of the artist tributes and interstitial material - he also conceived one of the show’s acclaimed finale sequences - the You’ve Got A Friend collaboration featuring Celine Dion, Gloria Estafan, Shania Twain and Carole King.
He initiated, co-anchored and co-produced what became the highest-rated broadcast in E! history - Farewell To A Princess - E!'s acclaimed coverage of Princess Diana's funeral. Lewis conceived, wrote, hosted and produced the highest-rated music program in E!'s history - the 1995 special Re-Meet The Beatles!
In 1999 he was co-host and co-writer of E!'s first-ever 6-hour live Countdown To The Golden Globes - which contributed to E! securing the highest Sunday rating in its 10 year history.
He has made a series of one-hour specials for E! Entertainment Television - including programs on the Beatles revival, The British Academy Awards and The Brits - the British equivalent of the Grammys. The shows, which Lewis has created, written, hosted and produced, have received consistently good ratings. His Re-Meet The Beatles! TV special was the only in-depth program made about The Beatles' Anthology - and it secured record ratings for E!
Lewis created, wrote, hosted and produced The Secret Policeman's Retro Ball! for VH1 - a one-hour TV special which celebrated a decade of rock 'n' roll for Amnesty International - and featured star performances, interviews and behind-the-scenes reminiscences from a variety of landmark human rights benefits - most of which had been originally produced or conceived by Lewis. Featured artists in the 1992 special included Pete Townshend, Sting, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and sequences with U2, Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel.
He has performed extensively as a live-remotes correspondent on several shows - including New York's #1 local morning show - Fox TV's Good Day New York (taking over from Gordon Elliott) and previously on KABC's A.M. Los Angeles. He has also appeared in this capacity on Fox TV’s Good Day L.A.
As a comedic actor he has co-starred in two comedy series - HBO's Night Rap - for which he created the tabloid TV correspondent 'Nigel Payne' - and Comedy Central's Musical Shorts - produced by Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video. He has been a co-starring guest on network shows with Tom Arnold (WB's The Tom Show), "Weird Al" Yankovic, (CBS's The Weird Al Show), Sherilyn Fenn, Richard Lewis and Lynn Redgrave (Showtime's Rude Awakening) and Ru Paul. He has also starred as his comedic character - 'BAZZ' - an aging heavy metal star-turned-TV personality - who Lewis describes as "a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Martha Stewart." He co-starred in VH1's 1998 game-show My Generation - playing 'Larry Ligger' - a comedic British character he was commissioned to create and write for the show.
Lewis has written two autobiographical one-man stage-shows - Great Exploitations! and Murder, He Wrote! - and a seasonal satire Oy To The World! (A Very Jewish Christmas). Great Exploitations! was selected for inclusion in Solo '99 - The 2nd Annual Festival of One-Person Shows - presented in Hollywood in January 1999. Lewis claims that his autobiographical works emanate from a rare disorder in which he lives his life as a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. "Half of me is a stunningly incompetent Sherlock Holmes - consistently failing to solve the mysteries of life, career and romance. The other half of me is a gloriously bitchy Dr. Watson - gleefully chronicling all my failures. It's very economic. I'm my own Boswell."
He has written speeches, commercials and material for many leading entertainers including comedic performers such as: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; and actors and personalities such as: Jennifer Aniston, Patricia Arquette, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estafan, Aretha Franklin, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elliott Gould, Teri Hatcher, Anjelica Huston, Quincy Jones, Patrick Macnee, Sir George Martin, Roger Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sally Jessy Raphael and Susan Sarandon among many. He was the sole writer of the 1998 VH1 Honors Awards - Divas Live - which broke all ratings records on VH1. He has also written for the annual British Academy Awards - collaborating with Emmy award-winning Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch. He has also written special material for various Internet projects featuring Max Headroom, The Sex Pistols and U2.
Drawing on his creative affinity - and longtime personal and professional ties with Monty Python - he was invited to write and perform special additional comedic material incorporated on the critically-acclaimed, best-selling CD-ROM - Monty Python's Complete Waste Of Time (7th Level - 1994.) Lewis' extensive contributions to the production - which were highlighted in a rave review in Entertainment Weekly - gave him the distinction of being the only 'outside' writer and performer featured on the project - a rare honor in the exclusive Python world.
To commemorate Monty Python’s 30th anniversary in 1999, Lewis was invited to create and produce a special American tribute for the BBC’s four-hour TV special on the occasion. Lewis conceived and produced a special animated sequence featuring the South Park characters. He commissioned South Park creators Trey Parker & Matt Stone to create a South Park version of Monty Python’s legendary "Dead Parrot Sketch". Lewis also conceived, wrote and produced a sequence for the TV special in which Terry Gilliam’s (actual!) 82-year-old mother appeared as a trussed-up kidnap victim of the South Park creators - held hostage as a device to pressurize Gilliam into taking over directorial duties of their animated series. (Gilliam refused to submit to the blackmail stating that he was embarrassed that his mother’s fetish for being tied up had been made public!)
In 1996, Lewis conceived, developed and produced the highly-successful reunion of The Rutles - the Pythonesque spin-off group which affectionately spoofs The Beatles. He executive-produced the band's Archaeology album - which lampooned the Beatles' Anthology project. He also produced the group's reunion music video - and personally secured guest appearances for it by a diverse group of 25 stars ranging from Peter Gabriel, Cyndi Lauper, Graham Nash and Slash - through Ben E. King, Richie Havens and Gloria Gaynor - to Nancy Sinatra, Pat Boone and Eartha Kitt! And comics Bill Maher, Janeane Garofalo and Richard Belzer.
Drawing on his journalistic sensibilities and his skills as a serious broadcaster - Lewis was greatly in demand by American television as a commentator on the tragic death of Princess Diana. He initiated, co-anchored and co-produced Farewell To A Princess - the four-hour live telecast of Princess Diana's funeral presented by E! TV - which registered E!'s highest-ever rating. He also appeared on numerous TV shows - analyzing the events surrounding the death and its aftermath. In 1998 he fulfilled a similar function on several American networks - providing commentary on the death of Linda McCartney and a historical perspective on her life and achievements. Later in 1998, Leeza Gibbons invited Lewis to be a co-producer of her one-hour NBC special on the first anniversary of Diana's death.
He is also a familiar presence on British TV and radio - providing both satirical and serious coverage of life in America. He has been the American correspondent for the British equivalents of The Tonight Show (BBC's Wogan) and Live With Regis & Kathie Lee (BBC's Good Morning.)
He made his television debut as a performer hosting 60 Seconds With Martin Lewis - a regular series of humorous commentaries on E! Entertainment Television - in which he commented on the foibles of Hollywood life.
His discourses on E! included observations on such topics as the existentialism of L.A.’s validated parking: ("I'm validated... therefore I am!"); the notion of sandwiches defining celebrity status ("forget seeing their names in lights......stars now want to see their names in pastrami!"); and trendy restaurant cuisine ("Mesquite-grilled cilantro in a balsamic raspberry vinaigrette reduction...")
Lewis was part of the original on-air talent team which launched E! in 1990 - and was featured extensively in the network’s 10th anniversary programming.
He is also in-demand as a host and Master of Ceremonies for major live events such as award shows, film retrospectives, rock festivals and benefit shows. Major appearances include introducing the American Cinematheque's Moving Picture Ball - honoring Michael Douglas and Elton John's Smash Hits private concert for The Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2000 he was selected to hosted the prestigious Hollywood Reporter Awards. Following his noted appearance as a presenter at the 2000 Awards of the Academy Of Interactive Arts & Sciences - he has been invited to take over from Martin Short as the host of the entire event for 2001. He has been the host of the annual Comic’s Choice benefit held at L.A.’s Improv club every year since 1997. He has also hosted the annual Halloween "Spook-A-Thon" Film Festival at L.A.’s landmark Orpheum Theatre since 1993. He was the host of the Itchycoo Park Rock Festival in 1999 - presenting over 40 Woodstock-era rock acts.
Actors and comedians introduced include: Debbie Allen, Tom Arnold, Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Baldwin, Richard Benjamin, Sid Caesar, Michael Caine, John Cleese, Joan Collins, Billy Connolly, Peter Cook, Tony Curtis, Beverly D'Angelo, Rodney Dangerfield, Stephen Dorff, Janeane Garofalo, Bobcat Goldthwait, Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Idle, Sharon Lawrence, Dudley Moore, Billy Preston, Richard Pryor, Monty Python, Chris Rock, Paul Rodriguez, Patrick Stewart, Gloria Stuart, Lily Tomlin, Jon Voight and Robin Williams.
Musical performers introduced include: America, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Badfinger, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Blue Oyster Cult, Christopher Cross , Micky Dolenz, Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, John Entwistle, Sammy Hagar, Iron Butterfly, Joan Jett, Denny Laine (Wings), Marshall Tucker Band, Dave Mason (Traffic), Harry Nilsson, Peter Noone, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Billy Preston, Paul Rodgers, Mitch Ryder, Rick Springfield, Starship, Steppenwolf, Stephen Stills, Styx, Andy Summers (The Police) and Survivor.
In recent years Lewis has created, produced and hosted a series of festivals and tributes held in Los Angeles honoring comedic performers. Monty Python: Lust For Glory! (1994) was the official 25th anniversary celebration of the comedy troupe and Mojo Man (1995) was a salute to Richard Pryor. He also organized memorial tributes to Peter Sellers (Odd Man In - 1993) and for two comedians with whom he had close personal and professional ties - Monty Python's Graham Chapman (Life Of Graham! - 1990) and Peter Cook (Bedazzling! - 1995.) He also created, produced and hosted the Hollywood event which was the official American launch of Absolutely Fabulous. (Lewis was the first producer to discover Jennifer Saunders - the creator/star of 'AbFab' - recording her nightclub act for a noted British comedy album way back in 1981.)
Lewis has also co-created, co-produced and hosted film festivals saluting non-comedic subjects including directors Nicolas Roeg (1996) and Ken Russell (1995); the feature films produced by Hammer Films (1995) and Britain's Channel Four TV (1994) - and a Beatles movie tribute for the Motion Picture Academy (1995).
Lewis’ most recent film festivals have been the wildly-successful Mods & Rockers! celebrations of "Groovy Movies from the Shag-a-delic Sixties" which took place in Hollywood in the summers of 1999 and 2000. Lewis’ involvement as co-creator-producer-host of these festivals stemmed from his passionate love and extensive knowledge of the pop culture of that era.
Film and TV festivals Lewis is developing for the future include The King Of Comedy - America's largest-ever Jerry Lewis retrospective; and memorial tributes to two movie directors Lewis worked with as a producer - Sam Peckinpah and Lindsay Anderson.
The festivals and tributes Lewis creates, produces and hosts are organized by him (on a pro-bono basis) primarily for The American Cinematheque - of which he is a member of the Board of Trustees - and previously for the American wing of The British Academy of Film & Television Arts - of which he is a former Chairman and longtime member of the Board of Directors.
Lewis' film festival productions are in collaboration with American Cinematheque Program Director Dennis Bartok.
Lewis is also a world-renowned Beatles historian and authority - considered to be among the foremost in the field. For many years he has hosted the annual Beatlefest fan conventions held in New York and Los Angeles.
Lewis is frequently interviewed about the history of The Beatles - and the reasons for the continuing popularity of the group over 30 years after their break-up. His recent TV interviews relating to The Beatles include appearances on NBC's Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, The Today Show and Leeza; ABC's World News Now, The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show; Access Hollywood and Geraldo Rivera, and programs on VH1, CNBC, MSNBC, FX, Fox News, Lifetime, E! and BBC. He has been Beatles Correspondent for the TV show Extra since 1994. In 1995, his one-hour TV special Re-Meet The Beatles! - which he created, wrote, hosted and produced - broke ratings records on E! Entertainment Television.
A fervent and knowledgeable Beatles fan from their earliest days - as a 14 year-old schoolboy he was commissioned to compile the discography for their official biography (The Beatles by Hunter Davies - 1968). At the age of 17 he conceived and compiled a special album released by EMI Records collecting together songs written by The Beatles - but recorded only by other artists (The Songs Lennon-McCartney Gave Away - 1970)
He has been a consultant to EMI-Capitol Records on all aspects of The Beatles - advising on historical matters and marketing strategies. He was one of the principal strategists of the highly-acclaimed marketing campaigns for the release of The Beatles' Anthology and Live At The BBC albums.
In 1997 he was one of the organizers of the official celebrations in Liverpool of the 40th Anniversary of the Birth of The Beatles - the day that John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. Lewis personally arranged special messages for the event from Sir Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. He also secured personal congratulations for the celebration from President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Her Majesty The Queen.
He was commissioned to author With A Little Help From Their Friend... a 15,000-word companion narrative for the 1998 re-publication of Beatles manager Brian Epstein's 1964 autobiography A Cellarful Of Noise - and he is the Founder/President of MBE! (Mister Brian Epstein) - the campaign to have Epstein inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's non-performer category. Acting as editorial consultant - he secured a specially-written foreword for the new edition of the book from Beatles producer Sir George Martin.
Lewis was consultant to MCA-Universal Records on all aspects of In My Life - the farewell album produced by Sir George Martin - which featured performances of Beatles songs by leading entertainers including: Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, Phil Collins, Celine Dion, Jeff Beck, Bobby McFerrin, Sean Connery and Billy Connolly. To commemorate Sir George's retirement Lewis produced There Are Places I'll Remember... a special album of a wide-ranging conversation he had with Sir George about the legendary producer's life and career.
A throwaway prank Lewis undertook in 1971 as a very young music journalist unwittingly created what became one of the most enduring of Beatles myths. In an otherwise scholarly article he had written in a British music paper about unreleased Beatles recordings, Lewis had inserted the titles of four of his own endeavors as a teenage songwriter - as though they were genuine Beatle rarities! Much to his surprise, over time those titles were erroneously incorporated into many authoritative histories of the band - and have assumed a mythological status. Lewis has now confessed that four songs hitherto regarded as part of the 'Holy Grail' of unissued Beatles music: Colliding Circles, Pink Litmus Paper Shirt, Deck Chair and Left Is Right (And Right Is Wrong) were in fact atrociously bad imitation Beatles songs he had composed in his bedroom at the age of 14!
Lewis is currently developing concepts for several new TV shows. He also has a few breakfasts in development - and a couple of lunches in turnaround...