Special Report: The 81th Annual Academy Awards
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Veteran Hollywood
actor and comedian Jerry Lewis is slated to receive the Jean Hersholt
Humanitarian Award at the 81st annual Academy Awards ceremony here Sunday night
for his years of work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
Lewis, who helped found the MDA in the early 1950s,
has served as the organization's national chairman since 1952. The 82-year-old
actor is best known for the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, which has
raised more than 2 billion dollars since 1966.
"Jerry is a legendary comedian who has not only
brought laughter to millions around the world but has also helped thousands upon
thousands by raising funds and awareness for those suffering from muscular
dystrophy," said Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences (AMPAS), which hands out the Oscars.
However, about 10 activists, many in wheelchairs,
gathered Sunday afternoon near the Kodak Theater, where the Oscar ceremony is
held, to protest the award.
A spokeswoman for the group of disability advocates
said Lewis "trades on the dignity of people with disabilities" in order to raise
money and offers "pity, not progress."
Lewis offers an inaccurate view of the disabled as
"half a person," said the spokeswoman, Janine Bertram Kemp.
According to Kemp, nearly 50 activists with "very
little money and resources" assembled from around the United States earlier
Friday to protest the award and had a meeting with AMPAS officials.
Although the award will be bestowed as announced, the
protests were being continued in hopes of further educating the public, Kemp
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given out to
recognize the humanitarian efforts of an individual in the film