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As this year’s MDA Labor Day Telethon took shape, with Mirage headliner Terry Fator the leading representative from Las Vegas, a two-hour documentary of Jerry Lewis helming the show in 1989 has surfaced.

The footage, culled from a report by the then-syndicated celebrity show A Current Affair about 1989’s telethon, was posted on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.

The bootleg doc shows Jerry Lewis, in top form, backstage at Cashman Center rehearsing, joking, chiding, kissing babies and stretching duct tape across zippered tap shoes to protect his expensive tuxedos.


A two-hour documentary of Jerry Lewis helming the MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1989 has surfaced

A two-hour documentary of Jerry Lewis helming the MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1989 has surfaced

Jerry Lewis, now 88, is shown informally, wearing shorts and T-shirts from a variety of NFL teams, and there is a classic moment of Frank Sinatra bantering with Lewis via satellite from the telethon’s outpost in Atlantic City, then rehearsing Mack the Knife as Jerry Lewis watches.

The footage is shot in black and white, all the way, with Jerry Lewis at the center.

As has been the case in each MDA Labor Day telecast since Jerry Lewis’ final telethon in 2010, he is not taking part in the fundraising telecast.

Jerry Lewis said that he has not even watched a moment of the telethon since walking offstage for the final time at South Point.

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Jerry Lewis was honored as a Member of the Order of Australia, the highest award bestowed on a civilian by that country.

Jerry Lewis, 88, received a gold medal, a lapel pin and a high volume of praise from the Australian officials who made the trip to honor the comedian for his work in fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation (MDF).

Jerry Lewis was honored as a Member of the Order of Australia

Jerry Lewis was honored as a Member of the Order of Australia (photo Getty Images)

He has toured Australia and raised several millions of dollars for MDF. The Aussie charity is not formally linked to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), with whom Jerry Lewis raised more than $2 billion in a 45-year philanthropic partnership.

The Jerry Lewis-MDA relationship fractured after the 2010 MDA Labor Day Telethon at South Point, when, over a course of months, it became evident that Lewis was being cut loose from the annual telethon and organization. What’s left of what was long a 21 1/2-hour entertainment odyssey is this year’s MDA Show of Strength variety show, which aired for two hours on August 31, on ABC.

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2014 MDA Labor Day Telethon aired on ABC from 9 to 11PM on Sunday, August 31.

The MDA Show of Strength has raised about $52.3 million in contributions over the Labor Day weekend.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association will continue accepting donations through September 1. A final tally’s expected Tuesday, September 2.

This year, live performances and pre-taped concerts included appearances by Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, Fall Out Boy, Aloe Blacc, Jordin Sparks, Jason Derulo, American Authors, Matt Nathanson, R5 and more.

The MDA Show of Strength has raised about $52.3 million in contributions over the Labor Day weekend

The MDA Show of Strength has raised about $52.3 million in contributions over the Labor Day weekend

Nationwide, the telethon usually creates an outpouring of support from a big-hearted American public who in 2013 helped raise $59.6 million in pledges & contributions for both service and research programs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

For many years, a Labor Day weekend tradition featured the much-loved actor and comedian Jerry Lewis rallying public support in the battle to combat muscular dystrophy, a crippling disease which currently has no known cure.

Then, in a major announcement in 2011 it was revealed that after more than four decades the 85-year-old Lewis would be stepping down as the major host for the show. The epic 20-hour “all night” money raiser was also cut back to 6 hours, and then in 2012 to only a 2-hour broadcast featuring both taped and live performances.

As Jerry Lewis himself would say, “the show must go on” as 2014 marks the 49th annual Labor Day telethon.

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Jerry Lewis will make a special appearance at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, California, on Saturday, October 11.

Jerry Lewis, 88, is known for his long friendship and adventures with Dean Martin in films like Living it Up and The Stooge.

Jerry Lewis will make a special appearance at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside on October 11

Jerry Lewis will make a special appearance at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside on October 11

He is also known for his charity work for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

The evening will include stories of Jerry Lewis’ eight decade career in Hollywood with narrative and musical performances. There will also be a video montage of highlights in his career.

The night will conclude with an audience Q & A.

Tickets for the show go on sale Friday, March 28. Tickets range from $38.50 to $71 (plus fees).

For more information, check out the Fox Performing Arts Center website.

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No Jerry Lewis clip will be included in Telethon Memory in Sunday’s MDA Show of Strength (8 p.m.-10 p.m., on ABC).

The MDA show’s rundown lists assorted highlight clips from telethons long ago from Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Carole King, Pitbull and Will.i.am.

Jerry Lewis is nowhere to be found on the show’s rundown, and MDA spokeswoman Roxan Olivas confirmed Monday that the comedian would not be featured in any clip on the TV show. However, Jerry Lewis will be mentioned on the air by Jann Carl, and the MDA has posted three memorable moments of Lewis on its website. But still, how the clip of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin on the 1976 show (with Frank Sinatra acting as a highly energized mediator) has not made the national fundraising telecast is sort of inexplicable.

No Jerry Lewis clip will be included in Telethon Memory in Sunday’s MDA Show of Strength

No Jerry Lewis clip will be included in Telethon Memory in Sunday’s MDA Show of Strength

Roxan Olivas did provide a clear message of gratitude in a follow-up e-mail on Monday, saying: “It’s a time of great hope and progress in research, as treatments are on the horizon for many of the muscle diseases we cover in our program; none of this would be possible without the remarkable efforts of Jerry Lewis.”

That’s the strongest statement of recognition of Jerry Lewis by any member of the MDA since he left the organization in 2010.

Other artists featured in the here-and-now (and in taped performances) are the reassembled Backstreet Boys, Lee Ann Womack, Darius Rucker, Kenny Loggins, Luke Bryan and (from the Luxor in Fabulous Las Vegas!) Jabbawockeez.

For those yearning for a tote-board countdown for the money raised, one will be posted on the MDA website.

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Jerry Lewis described his unreleased 1970s Holocaust movie The Day The Clown Cried as “bad, bad, bad”.

The 87-year-old comedian directed, wrote and starred in the film.

Now, thanks to some leaked video, people can see how Jerry Lewis might have been right.

A seven-minute report from a 1972 Danish television show about the making of The Day The Clown Cried surfaced recently, and based on that, the movie looks hammy and self-important at the same time.

Jerry Lewis described his unreleased 1970s Holocaust movie The Day The Clown Cried as very bad

Jerry Lewis described his unreleased 1970s Holocaust movie The Day The Clown Cried as very bad

Shot more than 40 years ago, the movie stars Jerry Lewis, in one of his first serious turns as an actor, as a circus performer arrested by the Gestapo and thrown into a concentration camp. Once there, he starts performing for Jewish children, and reportedly travels with some of them to Auschwitz.

The movie was never released and only a handful of people have ever seen it. It nevertheless is considered one of the great fiascoes in modern movie history, joining the ranks of Ishtar, Gigli, Howard the Duck and Heaven’s Gate.

In the newly surfaced video, Jerry Lewis is seen in a few scenes doing a bit with a cigarette and a flickering candle, flying a paper airplane and then trying (and largely failing) to juggle a few balls.

In a 1992 story about the film in Spy magazine, Harry Shearer said of the movie: “The closest I can come to describing the effect is if you flew down to Tijuana and suddenly saw a painting on black velvet of Auschwitz.”

At this past May’s Cannes Film Festival, where Jerry Lewis was premiering his critically drubbed Max Rose, the comedian said of The Day The Clown Cried“No one will ever see it because I’m embarrassed at the poor work.”

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The MDA Telethon is must-see TV watching during the Labor Day weekend, an end-of-summer tradition in the U.S. since it first began in New York City in 1954.

For many years, a Labor Day weekend tradition featured the much-loved actor and comedian Jerry Lewis rallying public support in the battle to combat muscular dystrophy, a crippling disease which currently has no known cure.

Then, in a major announcement in 2011 it was revealed that after more than four decades the 85-year-old Jerry Lewis would be stepping down as the major host for the show. The epic 20-hour “all night” money raiser was also cut back to 6 hours, and then in 2012 to only a 2-hour broadcast featuring both taped and live performances.

As Jerry Lewis himself would say, “the show must go on” with 2013 marking the 48th annual Labor Day telethon.

In 2013, a bevy of star appearances and celebrity presenters will be lending their time and talents to the MDA Labor Day Telethon

In 2013, a bevy of star appearances and celebrity presenters will be lending their time and talents to the MDA Labor Day Telethon

This year, another MDA tradition comes to an end as the telethon moves from its usual “Love Network” of local stations to a major network in primetime.

The historic contract with the ABC television network means that the MDA telethon will for the first time air on a single network in its entirety nationwide.

In 2013, watch for the MDA Telethon to air on ABC from 9 – 11 PM on Sunday, September 1, 2013.

In 2013, a bevy of star appearances and celebrity presenters will be lending their time and talents to the MDA Labor Day Telethon.

They include Ryan Seacrest, Backstreet Boys, country stars Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack, Glee star Matthew Morrison, Enrique Iglesias, Paula Abdul, and teenage pop sensation Austin Mahone.

Nationwide, the telethon usually creates an outpouring of support from a big-hearted American public who in 2012 helped raise more than $58 million in pledges & contributions for both service and research programs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Last year the Muscular Dystrophy Association announced that Jerry Lewis was stepping down as host of its annual Labor Day telethon, the marathon TV event he had made his personal showcase, soap box and sentimental journey for 45 years.

With the show cut from 21.5 hours to just 6, Jerry Lewis was being replaced by a quartet of hosts, the MDA said, and would make an appearance only at the end of the show, to say goodbye and sing You’ll Never Walk Alone one last time.

Then what seemed the sad but inevitable end of an era became something uglier. A few weeks before the show, the MDA issued a curt announcement that Jerry Lewis would not be making a goodbye appearance after all — and was resigning from his post as MDA national chairman. The telethon went on without him (raising $61.5 million in 2011, more than the previous year with Jerry Lewis, according to the MDA) and included a filmed tribute to him and warm words of thanks from various participants during the show.

A year later, Jerry Lewis has been all but erased from the telethon’s memory. This year’s show, aired the Sunday night before Labor Day, has been further downsized, to just three hours, with no named host and a smattering of B-list guest stars (Carrie Underwood, Will.i.am, Khloe Kardashian). It is no longer called a telethon, but simply an “entertainment special,” and there will be no tote board tallying the donations. In the press announcement of the event, Jerry Lewis’s name is nowhere mentioned.

The story behind Jerry Lewis’s departure remains untold. But a few things have become clear in the year since the awkward public breakup. Jerry Lewis was dumped by the MDA, the charity he had been identified with since the 1950s. He’s still bitter about it. And the telethon is withering without him.

Jerry Lewis still won’t talk about what happened.

“That’s not a place I want to go. Because if I go there, you’ll never get me back,” Jerry Lewis said when he was asked recently in Nashville, where he’s directing a new stage musical, The Nutty Professor.

“It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it. But I have already ingested all that I want from that whole f***ing adventure.”

The pain is not hard to discern. “This was a hurt man,” says Richard Belzer, the stand-up comic and Law and Order co-star, who has developed a close, almost father-son relationship with Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis’ goodbye appearance was scrapped after he and the charity could not agree on its format and length. He wanted to do it live; the MDA floated several pre-taped options — “all insulting,” Richard Belzer claims.

“It’s as if they were trying to provoke him to leave.”

In the end, he did.

“It was a moral outrage, a PR nightmare and a sad commentary on this incredible philanthropic career,” says Richard Belzer.

To be sure, dealing with Jerry Lewis, now 86, has never been a walk in the park. His annual Labor Day orgy of sentiment, self-regard and showbiz schmaltz was for many years something of a punch line.

“You know why they love Jerry Lewis in France,” a comedian said not long ago.

“In France, they don’t get the telethon.”

Still, he raised an estimated $2 billion for “Jerry’s kids” over more than a half-century with the MDA, and a well-orchestrated, celebrity-studded farewell to him on the telethon might have been a fundraising bonanza.

MDA officials continue to maintain that Jerry Lewis simply retired.

“We honor Jerry Lewis, we admire the work he’s done for us, and we respect his decision to retire,” says Valerie Cwik, the MDA’s interim president.

Valerie Cwik replaced Gerald Weinberg, who was reportedly behind Jerry Lewis’ ouster and who stepped down as president last December, after 54 years with the organization.

And she insists that the changes in the telethon are part of a necessary evolution in fundraising strategy, to put less emphasis on the once-a-year event.

“It has to change because the American audience has changed,” says Valerie Cwik.

“A 21.5-hour show doesn’t fit in a 140-character world.”

Neither, apparently, does Jerry Lewis.

 

This year MDA Telethon featured pop singers Carrie Underwood and Paula Abdul among other Hollywood celebrities at the September 2 TV event.

Former American Idol judge Paula Abdul and Idol winner Carrie Underwood had a special reunion. With their star power, much awareness was raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Carrie Underwood performed Nobody Ever Told You from the chart-topping Blown Away album.

Before she took the stage, Carrie Underwood was introduced by Paula Abdul: “Well, I’m not surprised our next guest’s tour is called <<Blown Away>>. I think back to where our journey first began on <<American Idol>> and I’m literally blown away by this beautiful talent. What a blessing it has been for me to be an up close and personal eyewitness to your youth, your talent, your passion and your amazing success.”

This year MDA Telethon featured pop singers Carrie Underwood and Paula Abdul among other Hollywood celebrities at the September 2 TV event

This year MDA Telethon featured pop singers Carrie Underwood and Paula Abdul among other Hollywood celebrities at the September 2 TV event

The telethon renamed as MDA Show of Strength played three hours of performances that were pre-taped. Viewers were encouraged to donate to support the continuous search for treatments and cures for the disease.

Muscular dystrophy affects over 1 million Americans. It is a disorder that weakens the muscles to the point of disability. Up until 2011, Jerry Lewis was the main spokesperson and chairman of MDA. He had dedicated his life to find a cure for the disease and have raised more than $2.5 billion dollars.

For many, this Labor Day is just not the same without Jerry Lewis. However, Carrie Underwood and many other performances were warmly welcomed as the potential for raising greater awareness of the disease is great.

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The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon that for years featured Jerry Lewis was not broadcasted this year in Joplin, Missouri.

The program was a staple of local television coverage for decades over the Labor Day weekend.

Local programming, shown on KODE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Joplin, has been broadcast from Cycle Connection in Joplin for the past 12 years.

Nancy Hutson, owner of Cycle Connection and a longtime supporter of the MDA benefit, said local organizers of the telethon were notified in May by the national association that a telethon would not be held in Joplin this year.

“They are going to hold one in Springfield, but we were told the Joplin market is just too small,” she said.

The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon that for years featured Jerry Lewis was not broadcasted this year in Joplin, Missouri

The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon that for years featured Jerry Lewis was not broadcasted this year in Joplin, Missouri

Nancy Hutson stressed that local MDA supporters may contribute at firefighter boot blocks this weekend in Carthage, Webb City and Neosho, among other places. Carl Junction is not planning on holding a boot block. The annual MDA Ride for Life, one of the major local fundraisers for the organization, was held in July.

“This is the money that funds our clinic with Mercy Health System and helps us provide the services the local families need,” Nancy Hutson said.

“These boot blocks also were a big part of the telethon.”

Before it was held at Cycle Connection, the telethon had been held at the former John Q. Hammons Trade Center. Before that, it was held at the KODE studios.

“What’s happening now is that there are so many other things to watch on television on so many more channels over the Labor Day weekend that we are finding it incredibly difficult to get people to call in,” Nancy Hutson said.

“It’s much different now than in the 1950s when this thing started and there were only three options for watching television. The times change, but the needs don’t change.”

The amount of money that has been raised locally during the telethon is well into the millions of dollars, Nancy Hutson said. In 1987, the tote board had a goal of $135,000. Last year, that goal was $600,000.

The telethon dates to the 1950s, when the Jerry Lewis Thanksgiving Party for MDA raised funds for the association’s New York City area operations. The Labor Day weekend show has originated from Las Vegas for 28 of the 46 years it has aired.

 

The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association television fundraiser goes a new way Sunday, with a different title and featuring three hours of taped appearances by entertainers including country music star Carrie Underwood, pop singer Gavin DeGraw, alternative pop group OneRepublic, Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am and songstress Carole King.

The renamed MDA Show of Strength was pre-produced and taped in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, Tennessee, said association spokeswoman Roxan Olivas in Tucson, Ariz.

It was set to show on various TV and cable channels in 150 markets around the country from 7:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. Central and Mountain time and 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.

The renamed MDA Show of Strength was pre-produced and taped in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville

The renamed MDA Show of Strength was pre-produced and taped in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville

There won’t be a traditional tote board, and Roxan Olivas said some cities will have local hosts. But the overall event will urge national phone, text and online pledges toward funding efforts to find treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases.

The annual MDA Labor Day weekend telethon ended a 45-year run last year with comedian and longtime host Jerry Lewis, who turned 86 in March and lives in Las Vegas.

Jerry Lewis was part of a comedy duo with Dean Martin and became a film icon with antics and characters including the The Nutty Professor.

He went on to become synonymous with the Labor Day MDA telethon after starting it in 1966 with a marathon 22-hour show at a single TV station in New York.

Jerry Lewis was MDA national chairman from the early 1950s to 2011, and is credited with raising more than $1.6 billion over the years. He was nominated in 1977 for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the telethon and muscular dystrophy relief.

The event moved to Las Vegas in 1973, and had stints in Los Angeles before moving back to Las Vegas.

Despite Jerry Lewis’ absence, telethon officials last year reported raising $61.5 million in a six-hour show with several hosts. A silent montage of Jerry Lewis film clips was shown, but he didn’t take part in person or tape his signature song, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

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The Muscular Dystrophy Telethon is must-see TV watching during the Labor Day weekend, an end-of-summer tradition in the U.S. since it first began in New York City in 1954.

Now an entertainment extravaganza airing live from Los Angeles, the show for many years featured the much-loved actor and comedian Jerry Lewis rallying public support in the battle to combat muscular dystrophy, a crippling disease which currently has no known cure.

In a major announcement last year, it was revealed that after more than four decades the 85-year-old Jerry Lewis would be stepping down as the major host for the show.

As Jerry Lewis himself would say, “the show must go on” as 2012 marks the 47th Annual Labor Day Telethon.

With last year’s shakeup continuing to reverberate, the MDA announced in February that the 2012 telethon would be cut short from last year’s already curtailed 6 hours to 3 hours this year – beginning at 8:00 PM ET on Sunday, September 2.

As usual, the 2012 MDA telethon will be broadcast on some 160 “Love Network” television stations across the country and viewed on the Internet via streaming video at www.mda.org.

In a major announcement last year, it was revealed that after more than four decades Jerry Lewis would be stepping down as the major host for MDA Labor Day Telethon show

In a major announcement last year, it was revealed that after more than four decades Jerry Lewis would be stepping down as the major host for MDA Labor Day Telethon show

MDA Labor Day Telethon Stars

In 2012, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan are lending their time and talents to the MDA Labor Day Telethon, redubbed this year as “MDA Show of Strength.”

Other artists participating in the three-hour telecast include Gavin DeGraw, Alanis Morissette, Paula Abdul, Hot Chelle Rae, Carole King, OneRepublic and Jesse McCartney, among others. The show will include performances from Nashville, Hollywood and New York, as well as celebrity appearances by Khloe Kardashian Odom, Nancy O’Dell and Alison Sweeney.

Nationwide, the telethon usually creates an outpouring of support from a big-hearted American public who in 2011 helped raise more than $61 million in pledges & contributions for both service and research programs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Will 2012 prove to be another record-breaking year for muscular dystrophy research and support? Stay tuned…

Muscular Dystrophy Telethon TV Stations in Major Cities:

Boston, WCVB

Atlanta, WUPA

Dallas, KXAS

New York, WOR

Chicago, WGN

Las Vegas, KTNV

Washington DC, WDCW

Cincinnati, WSTR

Los Angeles, KCAL

Miami, WBFS

St. Louis, KSDK

San Francisco, KTVU