The poor old former Jerry Lewis telethon for Muscular Dystrophy: it’s been reduced now to two hours on ABC on September 1st. Gone completely is the famed 21 hour show that went through the night from Sunday to Monday on Labor Day, with Jerry Lewis watching the tote board and local stations pitching in to find money for MDA. In 2011, Lewis didn’t appear and was eliminated from MDA with no explanation after 50 years.
In 2012, Lewis was even further erased, and the show was slimmed down from six hours to three. It resembled nothing of its former glory. Now MDA has announced the show is just a two hour special on ABC. All gone are the local shows that fed the syndicated one. And Jerry Lewis has been wiped from the show’s history.
Interestingly, I reported after the 2011 show that MDA was unable to actually collect 50% of the money that was pledged without Lewis. After last year’s three hour show, no announcement was ever made about how much money was pledged or what was collected. MDA still hasn’t filed its Form 990 for 2012, so questions remain about how viable the telethon– now just show– is anymore in its enfeebled state.
At the end of 2011, after the first telethon without Lewis, Charity Navigator gave MDA a 41.78 out of 70, two stars out of four. MDA had the lowest score of five similar organizations. The ranking hasn’t been revised since no tax filing has come in yet for 2012.