Home Celebrity Labor Day “Telethon” No Longer Live– Most of the Acts Were Already...

EXCLUSIVE: The Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon used to be 21 hours of live entertainment and drama. No more. The 2013 MDA Show of Strength is now whittled down to two hours on ABC. Most of the performances have already been taped.

According to a website organizing the faux game-show like audience from this past July 30-August 2nd: “The show will be taped at CBS Studios in Hollywood, CA. Featuring HUGE musical performances, the concerts will also feature introductions by celebrity guests. Think MTV’s ‘Hope For Haiti’ … and you can watch it LIVE!!.”

The acts involved included Backstreet Boys, Ryan Seacrest, Lee Ann Womack, Kenny Loggins, Darius (Hootie) Rucker, and Matthew Morrison from “Glee.” I’ve never heard of the others: Jabbwockeez, Jessica Sanchez, Chris Mann, etc. They’re all nice people, but not exactly Frank, Sammy, Dino or the countless megawatt stars Jerry Lewis used to attract to the show when it was in Vegas.

MDA’s glory days with  Lewis are long in the past. In 2011, as I’ve reported before, MDA claimed around $60 million in pledges. But when the dust settled, according to the Form 990 they filed with the IRS, the group was only to bring in half that amount– $30 million.

Last year, 2012, MDA claimed $58 million in pledges. They’ve never released a Form 990 for 2012 so we don’t know what they actually took in. According to an MDA accountant, the filing for 2012 only happened last week. It won’t hit GuideStar possibly for two more months. I’ve called and emailed MDA’s Roxan Olivas several times. She simply doesn’t respond.

But MDA without Jerry Lewis — which began in 2010–is a calamity. The 21 hour telethon that focused national attention on Muscular Dystrophy and related diseases is a thing of the past. The show was reduced to six hours, then three, and now it’s an ABC special. The “Love Network” of local stations is gone. All the local connection to MDA has been cancelled after decades. (In New York that means no Julius La Rosa, Julie Budd, or call ins from hotel owners in the Catskills.)

How much did MDA actually collect in 2012? How depressing will the ABC show be? Stay tuned…


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14 replies to this post
  1. It is amazing how this says “what do you think?”, yet when you have your say the moderator doesn’t post it because they don’t “agree” with your views, so mature!! Here is hoping you get MD and suffer.

  2. I too grew up watching Jerry Lewis. The telethon was a tradition every year. My children grew up with it. the stories were very educational for my children. It taught them compassion for others. We will never watch the taped show they now put on. I know several people with MS and pray for them more now than ever.

  3. Nothing but garbage, just like “feed the children”.. It is all crap and people need to stop supporting this nonsense. People think “a cure” will be found? Not while the money is pouring in to line the big wigs pockets. Fools keep “donating”.
    Think what you want about my comments, but I am no bleeding heart and refuse to give money when there is no proof as to where the money is going.
    Charity starts at home, support your own family first. Let the big corporations spend the money, they have it.
    JLT should just be put to bed and live can move on.

  4. I’m disappointed in the fact that the MDA went corporate! They were all about the kids & the science. Now its about the money & the board of directors.
    Jerry is a cultural icon! He was the president of MDA, and they fired him! So so wrong in my opinion.
    It angers me, but I will still do my donations. Because its for the people afflicted with these terrible diseases. I won’t punish them for what the corporation is doing. & those that say “I’ll never give them another nickle” need to think about that!
    And about the telethon and the money to produce it…it was all DONATED!!! It didn’t cost MDA and the stars all DONATED their time!! Same with the entire “Love Network”!

  5. I too grew up watching Jerry and it was a yearly event to sit in the living room watching TV until late in the night with Jerry standing up there with his tie off, hair out of place, eyeglasses on and off, etc.
    I no longer watch the telethon and now contribute to other causes.

  6. To Peter: If caring about the children and young adults with neuromuscular disease, MDA’s services continuing and the increasing inroads being made by MDA research which are seeing more and more Stage 2 and 2b human trials more than one man is “drinking the MDA Kool-Aid” then keep passing the pitcher. The work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association was never about Jerry Lewis. It was his drive and dedication that brought attention to MDA’s needs which are priority #1. Anyone who declares that because Jerry’s gone they will no longer donate has been donating for the wrong reason all these years.

  7. I grew up watching the telethon, it was a big event in our house and we loved to call in our pledge and see our names announced on TV. The stories were inspirational and the acts weren’t all about the big names but also a lot of kids, schools and variety show acts. This telethon was a part of my childhood I remember fondly and something I wanted to pass on to my children. I’m sad to see it ripped apart the way it has been and its not something I have any desire to watch now despite any celebrities that may have taped performances. The telethon was about the kids, families and fund raisers now its just another pre recorded concert that is a sad shadow of what Jerry Lewis built!

  8. You fail to take into consideration some important points of reality. Taping performances on a day more cooperative with more talents’ schedule allows for more talent to appear on the Show Of Strength. The cost of a live 21 1/2 show versus the number of people who will watch that long in today’s world is a cost more than it’s worth. Many don’t understand that the longer format cost MDA more and more each year to produce. Also, rather than relying on one element for fundraising, MDA has placed extra focus on their MuscleWalk events in the Spring and Shamrock campaign in March which on its own raises almost $30 million. MDA should be proud that the Jerry Lewis Telethon was the last telethon standing, but it’s value had become cost prohibitive.

  9. I totally agree. I am so unhappy I no longer see Jerry and the show. It’s no where near the same. I think it is a total disrespect to Jerry, and all the hard work he did for the organization most of his life. I feel really bad every Labor Day Weekend.

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