Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy As­so­ci­a­tion telethon goes on — mi­nus Jerry Lewis


The Jerry Lewis era of the Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy As­so­ci­a­tion’s La­bor Day Telethon has ended a bit sooner than ex­pected.

The event’s host and main pub­lic ad­vo­cate since 1966, the vet­eran co­me­dian was slated for a fi­nal ap­pear­ance on this year’s edi­tion, en­tail­ing his tra­di­tional and typ­i­cally emo­tional fi­nale per­for­mance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” That changed sud- denly a month ago, when a brief state­ment in­di­cated Lewis had “com­pleted his run” as na­tional chair­man of the MDA.

At this writ­ing, nei­ther party had given a rea­son for the early breakup, but Lewis — who helped raise more than $1 bil­lion for the MDA — said he was plan­ning his own press con­fer­ence for the day after the telethon. Asked in July dur­ing a ses­sion with tele­vi­sion crit­ics about his telethon role this year, Lewis replied, “It’s none of your busi­ness.”

The show must go on, how­ever, and it will ... with an­other ma­jor change. Usu­ally an overnight Sunday-into-Mon­day event, the MDA La­bor Day Telethon is be­ing con­densed into a six-hour prime-time tele­cast car­ried on more than 150 “Love Net­work” sta­tions, in­clud­ing Chanel 22 in Seat­tle, on Sunday. In most cases, tal­ent from the re­spec­tive sta­tion will ap­pear in two lo­cal-orig­i­na­tion seg­ments each hour.

Na­tional telethon hosts in­clude present and past “En­ter­tain­ment Tonight” an­chor­re­porters Nancy O’Dell and Jann Carl, tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er­per­son­al­ity Nigel Lyth­goe (“So You Think You Can Dance,” “Amer­i­can Idol”), and “The Big­gest Loser” host Ali­son Sweeney (also still of NBC’s “Days of our Lives”).

O’Dell has been piv­otal in the MDA’s “Make a Mus­cle, Make a Dif­fer­ence” cam­paign, and her in­volve­ment is deeply per­sonal. She is the na­tional am­bas­sador for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ALS di­vi­sion, deal­ing with the nervede­bil­i­tat­ing illness com­monly known as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, of which O’Dell’s mother died in 2008.

Page 19 TV Cross­word an­swer: Jenna Elf­man

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