Home Celebrity Pathetic MDA Telethon: No Tote Board, No Jerry, And Lots of D...

The MDA telethon: if you fast forward the six hour show to its last few minutes, there’s a very brief and pathetic montage of Jerry Lewis clips. There’s no voice because the producers decided to set it to an instrumental version of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” Sad. It makes it seem, like the aborted tribute at the front of the show, like Lewis died. What was worse: just as the end credits roll, the show’s announcer tries to say “We missed you, Jerry” and is cut off by the director. The six hour telethon, cut down from overnight and 21 and a half hours, was a bland parade of D listers and taped segments. All the personality that Jerry Lewis gave MDA over 45 years was just chucked out the window.

The show was so badly produced that the end credits started to run 46 minutes before the show was supposed to end. The hosts looked like they’d been embalmed. The women were bad enough, but what the heck was “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe doing? He did manage to get taped messages from Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Steven Tyler. But no Jennifer Lopez. Maybe she’s a Jerry Lewis fan. And for the first time, no tote board. Did they make money? Who knows? The drama, the pathos, the investment in any of this — all gone.

Instead we got a frightening rock band of soap actors, Maureen McGovern, and audience that looked like they’d been worked on by taxidermists. One bright spot: Richie Sambora was great singing “Livin’ on a Prayer.” He looked good, too.

The Labor Day telethon was always cheesy but in the end, it had heart. This was a soulless exercise. And from the looks of the mail we got, MDA has set itself back tremendously. However Lewis feels about how he was treated tonight, I’m sure he is torn: he loved those kids.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
6 replies to this post
  1. I will still donate but I don’t feel the same! Jerry was the heart of the show! When someone gets up and makes you think about how good you have it and how much others need, you give! When someone makes you cry while looking at the horrible suffering adults and children go through, you give! When someone gets so emotional that he can’t finish the last few words of a song, that means so much to him, you give. Shame on MDA for what they did to a man or loved those Kids and did and gave so much of himself.

  2. I agree with all the previous notes. The show stunk. I never saw such a crappy mda telethon in all my life. The entertainment stunk,no tote board. Very cold no feeling show.
    MDA should be ashamed of themselves especially what they did to Jerry.I know he is up there in age but the way it was done was a smack in the face. He probably would have retired after this year anyway.

  3. The telethon was boring this year,and not near as good as years past, but I support the MDA , because I have 2 grandsons with Becker’s MD. They have done a lot for my boys, so I won’t put the MDA down. It really shouldn’t be about who host the telethon, but about the kids. I was deeply hurt by the number of people in the poll who said no Jerry, no money. Until you live with the devastation of this disease and see your grandchildren struggle so hard to play like other kids and be independent, you just don’t understand. I will be walking in March again at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Make a Muscle, Make a Difference Walk. I am a member of Scared Monkeys and will post in my signature line when we get new info on the walk. If anyone feels so inclined they can sponsor me in my walk in Honor of Cody and Chandler. I beg of you not to stop donating for the kids.

  4. The total this year includes corporate donations, which were never included in the final total when Jerry was there. This year’s “telethon” was pathetic. MDA should be ashamed of itself.

  5. The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon raised nearly $61.5 million, an increase of about $2.6 million over last year’s donations. They did it in half the time and stop the decline of donations. Last year was the first i recall that Jerry wasn’t able to beat the previous mark. D listers?? So glad i didn’t see Norm Crosby and tony Orlando who have been on the past 20 plus years

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