PHILADELPHIA — Denzel Washington confessed to a bit of stage fright in his latest role: Commencement speaker at the University of Pennsylvania, where his son is a sophomore.

Addressing about 5,000 graduates at the Ivy League school Monday, the Oscar- and Tony-winning actor said the academic ceremony was “a little overwhelming and out of my comfort zone.”

And that was his reason for accepting the invitation to speak, he said.

“I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself,” said Washington. “I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing.”

The 56-year-old star of “Malcolm X” and “Philadelphia” delivered a humorous speech with a sobering truth: Failure is inevitable. Yet instead of having something to fall back on, he said, graduates should “fall forward” – learn from their mistakes and keep going.

Thomas Edison had countless failed experiments before succeeding with the light bulb, he said.

“Do you have the guts to fail?” Washington said. “If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying.”

Ricki Lake memoir all about ‘glum and glamour’

NEW YORK — After a career of telling all, Ricki Lake is ready to write her story.

The actress and talk show host has signed with Atria Books for a memoir scheduled to come out in spring 2012. Her new talk show is expected to launch later in the fall of 2012.

Atria says the untitled book will be “a raw and emotional ride through the glum and the glamour.”

The 42-year-old Lake hosted her own talk show from 1993-2004. She has spoken often about personal issues, including her weight problems and past sexual abuse.

Cruz: New baby left her ‘transformed forever’


NEW YORK — Famously private Penelope Cruz reveals her overwhelming feelings as a new mother in the June issue of Vogue magazine.

Cruz begins to cry when talking about her son, Leonardo. She says she felt love for her baby “from the first second” he was born in January, and that when a parent sees their new baby’s face they are “transformed forever.”

Cruz is adamant about keeping her son away from the limelight and says she and husband Javier Bardem want to make sure his life is “as anonymous as possible.”

Cruz is promoting her new film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” with Johnny Depp. Vogue’s June issue will be out May 24.

Lewis to bow out of telethon


LAS VEGAS — After 45 years, Jerry Lewis is retiring as host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day telethon.

The 85-year-old comedian and Las Vegas resident issued a statement Monday through the Tucson, Ariz.-based Muscular Dystrophy Association calling it time for a “new telethon era.”

He’ll make his final appearance on the six-hour primetime telethon Sept. 4 by performing his song “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Lewis says he’ll continue as the association’s national chairman, a role he’s held since the early 1950s.

Last year’s Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon raised almost $59 million to fund research to find a cure for muscular dystrophy and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.