Jerry Lewis: Raising Hay -- and Hayes
09/03/2002 AT 01:00 PM EDT
But while TV viewers glimpsed a very bloated Lewis, 76, who is being treated with steroids for pulmonary fibrosis (an ailment of the lungs), CBS is preparing to air a glimpse of Lewis in his prime, as played by flamboyant "Will & Grace" sidekick Sean Hayes.
The New York Times, visiting the set of the upcoming TV movie "Martin & Lewis," about the turbulent 10-year partnership of the slapstick Lewis and debonair singer Dean Martin, reports that the real Lewis was furious when he first read that such a movie was being made.
But then he got hold of a copy of the script, submitted corrections to the producers and then befriended Hayes, of whom Lewis says: "He is so cute -- I've got a groupie playing me." ("Gosford Park" matinee idol Jeremy Northam, 39, plays Martin, who died in 1995 at the age of 78.) The TV movie is scheduled to premiere in November.
For his role, Hayes, 32, wore brown contact lenses over his blue eyes and sported a dorky Lewis-style haircut. He also mined his own life to explore Lewis's dark side (Hayes's father left the family when he was 5) and, he revealed to the Times, "was amazed at how many things I didn't know" about the man he was playing.
Pressed for examples of what he didn't know, Hayes said, "Well, everything."