It’s MDA Telethon Time; Fewer Hours, No Jerry
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s Labor Day weekend, so that means it’s time for the Muscular Dystrophy telethon seen in South Florida on TV33. The Telethon, which startd at 6 p.m. Sunday, has a couple of changes this year including the fact that Jerry Lewis will not be running the show.
The other change is the length of the show, which in the past, had approached 22 hours. In fact, the word telethon combined ‘television’ with ‘marathon’ because the show was so long, but this year, MDA has chopped the time to just 6 hours.
If you watch from 6 to midnight, you’ll have seen it all.
But what you won’t see is Jerry Lewis, the name synonymous with the annual show. At 85, battling health issues, Lewis announced he was retiring from the telethon after 45 years, with a final appearance at the end of this year’s show to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for the final time.
However, on August 4th, the MDA announced Lewis would not appear on the program in any capacity, and thanked him for his years of service. No explanation was given for the change, and Lewis has refused to discuss it.
Even though it’s shorter and Lewis may be watching from home instead of hosting, the goal remains the same: $1 more than the previous year.
The national telethon will be hosted at the South Point hotel in Las Vegas, and will feature a host of stars contributing their time. The MDA is highlighting the performers instead of the host, in an effort to promote the new format.
Twice an hour, CBS4 personalities will highlight the support for MDA locally, reading local pledges and showing the local donation total.
MDA officials said more than $1 billion has been raised during Muscular Dystrophy Association telethons over the years and a national network of some 200 hospital-affiliated clinics has opened since Lewis became involved in the telethon.
Lewis’ first live Labor Day weekend telethon in 1966 was broadcast by a single New York City television station. It raised more than $1 million in pledges.
The telethon moved from New York to Las Vegas in 1973 and had stints in Los Angeles before returning in 2006 to Las Vegas.
Last year’s Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon was broadcast by more than 170 stations including WBFS/TV33 in South Florida. It raised almost $59 million to fund research to find a cure for muscular dystrophy and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
WHO’S PERFORMING? A LIST TO DATE
Max Adler; Brandon Barash; Joy Behar; Boyz II Men; Brokedown Cadillac (Get Discovered); Reggie Bush; Jann Carl; Greyson Chance; Clark County Children’s Choir; Nadia Comaneci; Billy Ray Cyrus; Celine Dion; Come Fly Away; Bart Conner; Tommy Emmanuel; Nick Florez; Michael Feinstein; Whoopi Goldberg; Elisabeth Hasselbeck; Dwight Howard; IL Volo; JabbawockeeZ; Randy Jackson; Jay Johnson; Lady Antebellum; Jennifer Lopez; Nigel Lythgoe; Martina McBride; Maureen McGovern; Dan Nainan; Nancy O’Dell; One Step Away (Get Discovered); Shawn Parr; Penn & Teller; Port Chuck; Smokey Robinson; Rootdown (Get Discovered); Darius Rucker; Richie Sambora; Jon Secada; Sherri Shepherd; Jordin Sparks; Alison Sweeney; Steven Tyler; Universal Cheerleaders; Voca People; Barbara Walters; Kurt Warner; Jimmy Webb; and Ace Young.