President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac may not be phone pals anymore, but that didn’t stop Chirac from discussing Saddam Hussein, the war in Iraq, and other serious issues with another famous American: Jerry Lewis.
Except it turns out that the man who had a five-minute phone conversation with Chirac last week wasn’t Lewis, but rather a Los Angeles DJ impersonating the comedian. A source at KROQ 106.7 confirms that ”Kevin and Bean Show” entertainment reporter Ralph Garman got through to Chirac by claiming to be France’s most loved American funnyman — a prank that has the real Lewis considering legal action. ”Jerry is outraged that this impersonation occurred, especially at this critical time in the conduct of foreign policy,” Alan Isaacman, Lewis’ attorney, tells EW.com. ”These are life and death matters, and the last thing that’s needed is someone getting involved in this situation in a false manner. It’s reprehensible and irresponsible, and we intend to pursue the appropriate remedies.” (KROQ declined to comment on the hoax.)
EW.com procured a tape of the phone call, during which Chirac assured Garman, ”I recognize your voice, no doubt about that” and talked freely about why he isn’t supporting an attack on Iraq, noting, ”The resolution [Bush] wanted to send [to the United Nations] a few days ago says [Iraq] has one week before the attack, and that is not reasonable, you know… In fact, the United States has already won the war, because Saddam now accepts [sic] to be disarmed from the inspectors. They’ve won.”
Chirac also expressed appreciation for at least one of Bush’s prewar tactics: ”Without the boys [the military] sent over there, we would not have had the result of Saddam accepting to disarm. But now that we’ve achieved that, we can avoid war. The United States has to be very careful, because if people hold this against them, it’s not good for the equilibrium of the world.”
Chirac then invited the faux Lewis to visit him in Paris, noting, ”Understand one thing: France and I will always be friends with America, even if we have two different views of this problem.”
Although the phone call got Lewis an invite to the French presidential palace, it violates FCC regulations, which mandate that the caller must notify the other party if a phone conversation is to be broadcast. ”We can’t speak about a case directly, but the violation of this rule has caused us to take action against other radio stations in the past,” an FCC spokesman tells EW.com.
This isn’t the first time ”The Kevin and Bean Show” has pulled off a prank, according to the Los Angeles Times. On June 13, 1990, Ryder and Baxter asked Arizona DJ Doug Roberts to call the station with a phony murder confession. The hoax attracted national media attention when the producers of ”Unsolved Mysteries” broadcast the call on the show and local authorities were inundated with leads. After 10 months, the call was revealed to be a hoax. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department presented the DJs with a bill for $12,170 for wasted man hours, and they were ordered to serve 149 hours of community service by their employer.