Fayette County resident and actor Emmanuel Lewis, 40, is best known as Webster in the 1980s sitcom and a friend of the late great Michael Jackson.
Lewis has apparently hit upon hard financial times. Fayette County foreclosed on his home last September to cover unpaid taxes, TMZ reported earlier this week.
His home, which was co-owned by his mother Margaret, was sold in auction Sept. 6, 2011 for $56,000 to cover unpaid state, county and school taxes for the years 2007 to 2010.
A colleague of mine provided me the paperwork to confirm the TMZ information.
Sources frequently leak such bad celebrity news to TMZ. Lewis is so far off the fame radar nowadays, it took more than three months before TMZ even knew about it.
The last time I saw Lewis was at Frank Ski’s wine auction fundraiser in 2008 but didn’t get to talk to him.
(I reached out to Ski to try to reach Lewis but he said he no longer had his number and hadn’t heard from him in at least six months.)
Lewis had his own entertainment company called Emmanuel Lewis Entertainment Enterprises, which he dissolved in 2008, according to the Secretary of State website. Another company Global Entertainment Media Company dissolved in August, 2011. A non-profit organization under his name Future Begins Now was dissolved the same month.
I interviewed Lewis in 2003 by phone after the debut of the WB’s ‘Surreal Life.” Here is the story:
Atlantan Emmanuel Lewis, the pint-size star of the NBC sitcom “Webster” from 1983 to 1989, thought it would be a hoot to do a reality show.
“Reality shows are what’s going on right now, ” Lewis said by phone this week while getting a haircut at Just for You, a barbershop he’s frequented for years on Old National Highway in Atlanta.
Indeed, the big networks are flooding us with six “reality” series this week alone. WB’s “The Surreal Life” takes Lewis and six other “ex-superstars, ” as the trailers call them, and sticks them in a Hollywood Hills mansion once owned by Glen Campbell for 10 days of theoretical wackiness.
The biggest “ex-superstar” is Hammer, whose catchy “U Can’t Touch This” helped him sell millions in 1990-91. Lewis is joined by two other ’80s semi-icons, Vince Neil, vocalist of hair band Motley Crue, and Corey Feldman (”The Goonies, ” “Stand by Me”). Fans of early “Beverly Hills 90210″ might remember Gabrielle Carteris as the brainy Andrea Zuckerman. Few will remember Brande Roderick, a Playboy Playmate who was on “Baywatch Hawaii” for a season. And in an interesting — or desperate — twist, the producers threw in Jerri Manthey, the mouthy rabble-rouser from the second “Survivor” reality series.
Lewis, 32, a 1997 Clark Atlanta University graduate, looks much as he did from his sitcom days, and his distinctive laugh permeates tonight’s oddly compelling premiere episode. Nonetheless, he lays low, twice noting, “I’m a very private person.”
He doesn’t feel being on this show contradicts that notion: “Although you get a chance to see me, it’s limited. It’s not like following me around my own house. It’s like a situation comedy.”
He does promise he’ll be a lot more active in the remaining six shows and sneaks in unspecified “contraband.” (Cellphones, cash and Internet access are not allowed.)
Overall, Lewis says, “We went through an emotional roller coaster. We really bonded.”
The housemates shopped together, held a talent contest, went on a camping trip and hit the slots in Las Vegas, where Feldman gets married on camera.
Lewis diplomatically heaps compliments on his temporary roomies. Feldman is “a character.” Neil is “very deep.” And Playmate Roderick is “very smart.”
As for bunkmate Hammer, he had no clue whether the former-rap-king-turned-preacher was a snorer: “I couldn’t tell through my snoring.”
Lewis has launched a music label, Flex Floss, and a movie production company, though nothing concrete has come to be yet. He also filmed a minor part in an upcoming David Spade comedy, “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.” Lewis, a black belt, filmed a fight scene with Spade. “He had a stunt double do most of the work, ” Lewis noted, with a laugh.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk