Sunday, June 16, 2024

MDA Without Jerry Lewis, Telethon: New CEO Takes Home Over $500K, Collections Way Down


With MDA, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the truth always come out. You just have to wait until they file their Form 990 Tax Return to see what really went on during the so-called telethons.

Since they unceremoniously dumped Jerry Lewis in 2010, MDA has had a lot of trouble raising money and even more problems collecting from pledges. Their 2013 filing was just posted to their website and it reveals two things: one–the new CEO Steven Derks, who moved MDA from Arizona to Chicago, is being paid very handsomely. In 2013 he waltzed away with $520,000. That included a base salary of $460,00 and $62,000 in additional compensation. Not bad! In 2011, his predecessor, Gerald Weinberg, was receiving $383,000.

Derks’s salary is interesting for a lot of reasons. That’s because MDA says its total salaries were down for 2013. So was the amount they distributed to other groups and to regions where MDA and other associated diseases are prevalent.

Derks also received MORE money than almost any medical institution on the MDA gift list including medical schools at Harvard, Cornell, and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

What also comes up in the Form 990 for 2013 is that the actual money collected from the two hour ABC “Show of Strength” has really dropped off. The total was 15,899,374. But the hard number was just 12,387,860. MDA claimed after the 2013 “telethon” that they’d raised a total of $59.6 million. Hogwash. In fact, total contributions (including the telethon and all other donations) for 2013 were down by $5 million. Total revenue was down by $2 million.

This year’s “Show of Strength” no doubt brought in even less. When the show was over, MDA announced $52.3 million in total contributions “spurred on” by the show. But the ratings for the two hour ABC special were minimal– a total of 1.24 million viewers. It was the 13th ranked show for that evening.

I did send an email to Roxan Olivas, the PR chief for MDA. She did not respond.

PS This year, The ALS Association took center stage from MDA with the ice bucket challenge that went viral all over the world.




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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