Sunday, April 14, 2024

Labor Day Telethon: MDA New President Invokes Jerry Lewis Name in Letter to Followers


Here’s a new twist: the new president of Muscular Dystrophy Association has invoked Jerry Lewis’s name in a letter to followers. Stephen M. Derks has posted a letter to website summarizing MDA accomplishments and asking for support. But Derks, newly installed from his position as head of the American Cancer Society in Chicago. invokes the name of MDA’s former spokesperson and standard bearer even though the organization famously fired Lewis three years ago.

First Derks writes: “Where would MDA and the fight against 43 muscle diseases be without the amazing Jerry Lewis? Certainly, we would not be at this hopeful spot. Forever he will be our greatest “muscle maker,” a true hero in the hearts of millions. He and all of our sponsors, and thousands of celebrities as well as millions of generous Americans who said “yes” to him, brought our fight into America’s living rooms.”

Then he adds: “Thanks to Americans saying yes to Jerry Lewis’ requests and the requests of all our sponsors and volunteers, new, lifesaving breakthroughs are not only on the horizon they are being injected into people today.”

This is what’s known as a “sop.” It’s a way of exploiting Lewis’s name without apologizing to him or making any kind of peace with him. Lewis must be bitterly amused. But Derks knows that regular contributors to MDA have declined tremendously since Lewis’s ouster. He almost must be fearing a bigger drop tonight after the 2 hour “Show of Strength” special, no longer a telethon, on ABC.

Look up the word “sop,” kids.

PS Lewis’s name appears nowhere else anymore on the MDA website. He’s been erased from their history.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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.

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