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Jerry Lewis Telethon


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#121

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Posted Aug 16, 2012 @ 12:14 AM

And it gets even worse. The MDA website is now referring to their host-less three-hour production as the "MDA Show of Strength."

That's right. They've taken one of the most iconic show titles in the history of television (The MDA Telethon) and thrown it in the trash. Most people will have no idea what a "Show of Strength" in this context is, and will pass right by it without a second thought.

According to the show's site, the featured performers will include: "Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, Will.i.am featuring Eva Simons, Carole King, Paula Abdul, All-American Rejects, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, B.o.B, Brandy, Luke Bryan, Gavin DeGraw, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Tim McGraw, Alanis Morissette, Khloe Kardashian Odom, OneRepublic and more."

There's not one single name on that list that I remotely care about watching. And with only three hours, it means those performers will get one five-minute segment each.

I would be shocked to see an MDA show on television in 2013.

The website is also painting Lewis' departure as a voluntary retirement, which is a complete 100% lie and everyone knows it. Whoever the hell is handling PR for this organization is doing a grave disservice to the MD patients who will have to suffer through this organization's probable decline into complete irrelevance.
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#122

PShau

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Posted Sep 3, 2012 @ 2:40 PM

Did anyone happen to catch the show at all?
It would've been easy to have missed it, given how brief it was this time.

In a nutshell -- this was not, strictly speaking, a "telethon"... just an extended infomercial.
MDA was kind enough (or classless enough, depending on how you view it) to give Jerry a nod in the first 2 minutes of the show, albeit in a very opaque way.

"We'll always honor our past" the voice says, as a quick reel of Lewis-era moments roll by --
Jerry goofing with the camera, Jerry and Sammy, Jerry and Frank, the epic Jerry & Dean reunion, Jerry with kids,etc, etc, all without audio, and Jerry's name itself is never spoken. A token gesture, not much more than that. And with that it was on with the program...

All in all, from a pure production standpoint, it was pretty well paced, a (very) slightly better lineup than last year's 6 hour show, and delivered the overall message as intended.

But that said, you have to realize that for the first time ever, since the entire thing was pre-taped instead of live, comparing this year to any before is like apples and oranges... this year it went through an entire editing process before being aired, meaning no surprises. But that also means a total lack of spontaneity --one of the things it's always been known for.

Now, the show is no longer an "event", no longer "appointment TV", in a similar vein as the Super Bowl, or the Thanksgiving Parade... now it's been reduced to something way,way, less. Even though supposedly, MDA says they've based the changes on current viewing habits:
http://www.thenonpro...ly-on-tape-4837

News is starting to emerge that their first attempt at a Lewis-less, much shorter show last year may have backfired in a big way... Someone's gotten a look at MDA tax documents for 2011, and the claim they outdid prior years now looks to be a real fudging of numbers:
http://www.lasvegass...----lewis-2010/

If this is true, then shrinking the show even further this year is one of 2 things --a gross miscalculation of what made people tune in to begin with, or simply that they couldn't afford to produce anything better.

Either way, Jerry still refuses to discuss MDA very much, or what happened:
http://entertainment...e-the-telethon/

One interesting note in that article is that the person who was the real force behind Jerry's departure was not actually someone newer, but was Gerald Weinberg, a head honcho with more than 50 years there--clearly somebody who Jerry must have been closer to at one time. (Weinberg recently resigned)

He seems to be finding other avenues to raise money for the cause... This is Jerry several months ago in a promotional spot for the MDF of Australia:
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=l9VbwdK45go

As for what little remains of the telethon, my sense is MDA wants to de-emphasize the show any way possible; maybe to the point of just letting it fade away after this year, or maybe next. Or they're trying to duplicate the pattern of the StandUp 2 Cancer program (which airs on Sept.7th) which somehow seems to draw bigger celebrity power. Maybe it will occur to them that there's a reason the dollars aren't coming in like they used to. They had a brand - a live, sometimes unpredictable spectacle... if they can somehow keep those elements, Jerry or no Jerry, they might find a sweet spot.

One of MDA's officials said recently:
" A 21.5-hour show doesn’t fit in a 140-character world."
Maybe it can, though... if only for one weekend a year.
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#123

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Posted Sep 4, 2012 @ 12:31 PM

I don't think we've heard the end of this. Either there will be a scandal about donated money being pilfered, or a cover-up, or something. That's IF there is still something resembling an investigative journalist who will take this on and not give up when they receive a 'no comment' from MDA & Lewis.
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#124

EndoKE

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Posted Sep 6, 2012 @ 8:03 PM

I didn't even know it was on. When did it come on?
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#125

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Posted Sep 6, 2012 @ 11:47 PM

I didn't even know it was on. When did it come on?

Last Sunday. As other posters have mentioned, it was more a three-hour infomercial than a telethon. No local segments, no host, all pre-taped and lacking in any spontaneity. Methinks MDA's national presence is fading fast.
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#126

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Posted Sep 7, 2012 @ 8:54 PM

I gave it 20 minutes-then I bailed.
What a sad, pathetic way for MDA to fade.
I'm still waiting for the real story to come out, I'm amazed that Mr Lewis hasn't spilled his guts to any and all who would listen.
Meanwhile, those who would benefit from the MDA fundraising, namely the kids, suffer.
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#127

EndoKE

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Posted Sep 8, 2012 @ 6:40 AM

Maybe the age of the telethon is over. When I used to watch this as a child, there wasn't much on during the Labor Day weekend. Now with cable there are so many choices, it's probably harder to get people to watch, so they stopped trying
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#128

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Posted Sep 8, 2012 @ 9:53 AM

I would agree with that-part of the excitement of Jerry's telethon was that it was on ALL NIGHT, when the other two or 3 stations had long since signed off for the evening. Made you want to watch and call in a pledge. But I would also say that you can have a viable fundraiser for MDA without sinking to the 3 hour pretaped pathetic mess that was on last Sunday. I would hate for the legacy of MDA to be that it sank beneath the waves like this.
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#129

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Posted Sep 8, 2012 @ 10:42 AM

The "telethon" was a disgrace to all the work Jerry has done (and is still doing) and to the kids.

If they wanted to cut back, it would have been simple to do a three-hour live show. Other causes have done that in recent years to rousing success. The infomercial set-up turned me off immediately.

Edited by mooncreek, Sep 8, 2012 @ 10:42 AM.

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#130

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Posted Sep 12, 2012 @ 12:19 PM

MDA should have been thinking about the future when Jerry was still a viable host. I don't understand why MDA couldn't pull off a star studded hour or two telethon like Stand Up to Cancer, but maybe that's impossible for them.
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#131

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Posted Sep 12, 2012 @ 11:14 PM

MDA should have been thinking about the future when Jerry was still a viable host.

Exactly. Dick Clark spent years setting up Ryan Seacrest as his successor for his New Year's show; as a result, it won't miss a beat even with Clark's passing. If Jerry and the MDA had done something similar with a suitable replacement, Jerry's departure wouldn't have been nearly as jarring.
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#132

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Posted Sep 13, 2012 @ 12:30 PM

I agree, but we don't know the full story. I could very easily see Jerry steadfastly refusing any type of co-host or guest host because it would mean a lessening of his power. I guess MDA could have been working behind Jerry's back to do something, but what if the old guy didn't want to let go?
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#133

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Posted Sep 14, 2012 @ 9:25 PM

I could very easily see Jerry steadfastly refusing any type of co-host or guest host because it would mean a lessening of his power.

That's very possible. I could easily see the egocentric Lewis flatly refusing any kind of long-term torch passing.
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#134

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Posted Sep 15, 2012 @ 8:42 PM

On Labor Day, I turned on my television, then to my husband and asked, "Hey, isn't the telethon on this year?". It took the internet to confirm that it had been on the night before for three hours only. Pathetic.
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#135

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Posted Oct 5, 2012 @ 5:43 PM

When they kicked Jerry to the curb, they also lost my donation. After all of his years of service, to have been treated like he was "nothing" was an extreme disservice to the man. Yes, he is older, and he doesn't have the stamina to do a long show, but they could have him open and close the show and actually air it on Labor Day, which is traditional.

Too bad MDA is full of idiots who can't do marketing. They've screwed up a good thing, and in doing so, have probably lost millions of research dollars.
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#136

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Posted Jul 13, 2013 @ 12:25 PM

http://variety.com/2...abc-1200497737/

 

From June of this year, ABC will now show the telethon (2hrs) on its stations on Sep 1. I guess broadcast primetime from syndication is a move up, but now it's like all the other charity shows, except this is supposed to be annual. But truthfully, it was sounding like it wasn't going to last as a 22 hour telethon anyway.


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#137

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Posted Jul 17, 2013 @ 2:06 AM

Too bad Sammy Petrillo is gone. They could have had HIM host it:

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=OrRtIp3jylk


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#138

PShau

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Posted Sep 1, 2013 @ 10:01 PM

I've seen everything now -- 

 

A telethon.... with commercial breaks.....????

 

Apparently part of the cost of getting network time with ABC is allowing ABC to shill their fall schedule or Dancing With The Stars all over the place.  MDA billed this year as a two hour show, and with all the breaks it barely eeks out past an hour and a half.

Then they also have the audacity to drop in the telethon "flashbacks" which ironically do little more than remind us how much the program has devolved into a shadow of its former self.

 

The strategy is obvious --

Extract Jerry Lewis......check.

Pare down the show by increasing increments 6 hrs.,then 3, then 2......check.

Gut the show of all local elements - no local cutins and consolidate everything onto 1 broadcaster (ABC)...check.

 

If the end game is not to totally dissolve the show in the next year or two, then I don't know what else explains all of that.

Either that, or there are some incredibly stupid people at the helm now.

You've got an annual heritage event broadcast like that, and allow it to slip away this easily?  (regardless of who's hosting) 


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#139

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Posted Sep 1, 2013 @ 11:10 PM

I had no idea it was on but stopped when I saw BSB. Total nostalgia back to my boy band days. Man, I'm getting old, but those songs still make me giddy.
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#140

EndoKE

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Posted Sep 2, 2013 @ 10:33 AM

You've got an annual heritage event broadcast like that, and allow it to slip away this easily?  (regardless of who's hosting) 

 

 

Times change.  It's a fact of life.  I used to watch the Miss America pageant when I was a child, it used to come on NBC right around Labor Day I believe, that's gone now.  When the telethon was on, there were only 3 networks and in NYC 4, I believe independent channels.  That's not the case today.  Sometimes when there are more choices things go by the wayside.


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#141

PShau

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Posted Sep 2, 2013 @ 5:21 PM

Times change.  It's a fact of life.  I used to watch the Miss America pageant when I was a child, it used to come on NBC right around Labor Day I believe, that's gone now.

 

 

Hmm -- You may be surprised at what you'll find on TV the night of Sept.15th, then.

 

Funny you should bring that up, because in fact, Miss America's organizers have gotten back onto a "big 3" network (ABC since last year) from it's basic cable exile, plus have moved the pageant back to September from January, AND are back home in Atlantic City for the first time in 8 years, after a stay in Las Vegas. 

http://www.pressofat...1a4bcf887a.html

About the only things missing will be the old theme song (couldn't negotiate the rights for it), and the late Bert Parks (how about a hologram? lol)

 

Could be that in time, some better heads will prevail over at MDA, and maybe they too will see the value in going back to their own roots in some way.  Back to a full 20+ hour show?  Maybe not that much, but 6 or more anyway, and also reintroduce the live broadcast element that gave the show the spontaneity that's gone now. 

 

And if they manage that, maybe even give Jerry his proper due while there's still time. (That is, if he'd go along with it)


Edited by PShau, Sep 2, 2013 @ 5:24 PM.

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#142

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Posted Sep 3, 2013 @ 11:31 AM

Preliminary ratings show the 2hr telethon got a .2 in the 18-49 demo, with 1.34 million total viewers. Pretty bad, but I don't know how it compares to its syndicated days. Like many shows past their prime, it's lost a lot of steam over the years. Watch it go to the CW next. Dick Clark's son R.A. is producing the show and talk about it in this article: http://blog.zap2it.c...-the-times.html


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#143

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Posted Sep 3, 2013 @ 5:09 PM

Back in the day, when there were five local stations in our market (the Big 3 networks, an educational/PBS station and an independent), they would sign off shortly after midnight. I used to stay up late into the night during the Jerry Lewis telethon, since it was one of the rare times that there was something to watch at three or four in the morning. I generally hated variety shows, but there was something super cool about sitting up watching a show on TV at 4:00 AM.

 

Later on the independent station would air a pre-taped shop-at-home type deal that ran late into the early morning hours after regular programming was finished. It was in an auction format, with the host offering typical products like Ronco crap that bidders in the auction studio would "bid" on (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Once the final price was set, anyone watching the show could call a number and order the product for the same price the in-studio bidder supposedly "paid" for the product.


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#144

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Posted Sep 9, 2013 @ 6:30 PM

So how much was pledged?<br /><br />I am 62 years old. I had just turned 14 when the first telethon was broadcast locally in NYC back in 1965. Because my brother is one of "Jerry's kids" -- he hates that appellation -- my family was invited to participate. and we were among those who worked the phones. That first year less than $1M was pledged. The next year received over $1M in pledges, and my mother cried because she was sure this would lead to a cure for her little boy. She couldn't imagine so much money. I remember the year pledges went to $10 million, and Jerry climbed up the tote board on a ladder with a brush and a paint bucket to paint a "1" when the total exceeded $9,999,999.<br /><br />My brother became a full-time patient at the now-defunct Institute for Muscle Disease, part of the New York Hospital, for 10 years, from the age of 2 to the age of 12. They eventually concluded they couldn't do anything for him after all and closed and sent their patients home. The Institute was affectionately referred to as "the house that Jerry built." My brother is the only survivor from those days. He saw his friends die one by one. My mother had to live without her baby for 10 years, seeing him once a week and having him visit his home once or twice a year. Imagine what that must have been like. He is still alive at 49, his body twisted and deformed by Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He was misdiagnosed with Duchennes. Now a young cousin has been diagnosed with a different kind of dystrophy, which has thrown our faily into a tailspin. We are carriers of the gene after all.<br /><br />The telethon was a huge part of our lives for many, many years. It pains me to see what it has become, a victim of the age and small-minded modern young people with MBAs who think they know best, and how badly Jerry has been treated. Jerry has never revealed the reason for his devotion to curing these diseases. Not even his wives, children, family and long-time friends (Dean, Sammy, Frank) knew. He has always promised he'd tell his story when a cure was found. I guess he'll die without telling.<br /><br />So yeah, I want to know how much was pledged. The MDA telethon was a juggernaut in fund-raising, providing them with a good part of their operating budget for years, and they always collected more than was pledged. NO ONE had the star power of Jerry Lewis to do what he did. A two- or three-hour hostless infomercial, seen by very few? Appalling.
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#145

misterbfd

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Posted Sep 10, 2013 @ 3:10 PM

So yeah, I want to know how much was pledged.

 

$59,583,555, which is slightly more than Jerry's last year as host and the last year that they ran the 22-hour marathon telethon. From 2002 through this year, the fund raiser has consistently garnered right around $60 million each and every year, regardless of length of the show or the host.


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#146

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Posted Sep 12, 2013 @ 9:20 PM

That may be the amount pledged, but if this article is accurate, it will be far from what they actually receive.

 

In this interview, Jerry wouldn't talk about his departure from MDA, but does make this telling remark:

 


Lewis refuses — aggressively — to talk of his departure from MDA. When asked if he would ever be able to talk about his relationship with the organization with any happiness, he says, “No.”

 

If you can't salvage anything from a sixty-year relationship, that had to have been one bitter breakup. Talk about being treated shabbily!


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#147

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Posted Sep 12, 2013 @ 11:07 PM

That may be the amount pledged, but if this article is accurate, it will be far from what they actually receive

 

Absolutely, they never collect the total amount pledged. But the question was how much was pledged, not how much they'll actually collect, so I answered as best as I could.


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#148

PShau

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Posted Sep 13, 2013 @ 1:43 PM

 

Absolutely, they never collect the total amount pledged. But the question was how much was pledged, not how much they'll actually collect, so I answered as best as I could.

 

 

You have to also remember something that's been brought up before -- since the new version of the show began, MDA doesn't use a "tote board" (primarily since the show's taped)  but they also use some fudged numbers when announcing what's brought in afterward, by combining the viewer donations with the corporate dollars....something that was off limits during Jerry's tenure.

 

When you looked at the rolling tote numbers, those were entirely called-in pledges; the Fireman's, and 7-11's and other company/group amounts were kept separate from that.

 

On a different note -- I totally get Jerry's message from interviews that he doesn't want to discuss MDA anymore.

But one question I haven't heard even posed is if he's found other avenues to continue supporting the cause -- I don't think MDA has any kind of monopoly on fundraising for neuromuscular disease.  He did some promotions in Australia for MDA's counterpart there, but that's been about it so far.

 

If I were him, I would've started a competing effort by now... probably the best way to give MDA the finger, while still raising money.

Maybe his age has gotten in the way of that, though.


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