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labor day telethon

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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The MDA announced a total of $58,706,015 on September 30, 2012, the year when the annual Labor Day Telethon became MDA Show of Strength.

The newly-branded MDA Show of Strength, which aired on September 2, 2012, on 150 stations nationwide, featured the commitment, dedication and support of viewers from across the nation who joined forces with volunteers, celebrities and entertainers, and national and local sponsors to show their strength for one common goal – to win the fight against muscle diseases.

The MDA announced a total of $58,706,015 on September 30, 2012, the year when the annual Labor Day Telethon became MDA Show of Strength

The MDA announced a total of $58,706,015 on September 30, 2012, the year when the annual Labor Day Telethon became MDA Show of Strength

“The incredible support of our national partners and their loyal customers, plus the generosity of the American public who called, texted or went online to donate, will help MDA provide care through our network of 200 clinics in the U.S., as well as help to send kids to MDA summer camps at no cost to their families,” said MDA Interim President and Medical Director Valerie Cwik, M.D.


“Their support will make a lifesaving difference in MDA’s worldwide research program, which this year will invest almost $36 million in vital projects.”

The signature Labor Day weekend show continued as the centerpiece of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s yearlong fundraising efforts. In addition to superstar performers such as will.i.am, Carrie Underwood, Pitbull and Carole King, the three-hour telecast featured uplifting stories of strength offering a window into the lives of individuals and families affected by muscle diseases; inspiring messages from many corporate sponsors, organizations and national brands; and heartfelt appeals from MDA ambassadors and celebrities.

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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.

 

The 2012 edition of MDA Telethon, now renamed the MDA Show of Strength (thus no longer referring to itself as a telethon), aired Sunday, September 2, 2012, and was reduced to three hours for prime-time broadcast.

The telethon was seen at 8:00 PM ET/PT, 7:00 PM CT/MT, and seen live in the Eastern and Central time zones.

Kicked off with the electrifying song This Is Love by Grammy-winning artist will.i.am, the all-new MDA Show of Strength presented three hours of prime-time entertainment while raising awareness of Muscular Dystrophy Association’s research and services missions, its sponsors and the people it serves.

The show, which aired Sunday night, September 2 and featured local segments produced by MDA’s Love Network of 150 stations across the country, redefined the tradition of MDA’s Labor Day Telethon with a faster pace and performances targeted to engage show viewers in MDA’s cause.

The 2012 edition of MDA Telethon, now renamed the MDA Show of Strength, was reduced to three hours for prime-time broadcast

The 2012 edition of MDA Telethon, now renamed the MDA Show of Strength, was reduced to three hours for prime-time broadcast

“We’re truly grateful to members of the public who responded to our SHOW of STRENGTH with generous contributions made by phoning, texting or giving online,” said MDA Interim President and Medical Director Valerie Cwik, M.D.

“We hope that the momentum started by the show this weekend has inspired our viewers to learn more about MDA and be involved all year long.”

The show presented a variety of musical styles, from country sensation Carrie Underwood to rap artist Pitbull, aka Mr. Worldwide, who ended his performance by inviting MDA’s 12-year-old National Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster to be a guest at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas in late September and declaring: “We need you guys more than you need us. You’re the ones that are strong.”

Other performers included: B.o.B, Brandy, Hot Chelle Rae, OneRepublic, All-American Rejects, Gavin DeGraw, Karmin, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Luke Bryan, Eva Simons, Silhouettes and Alanis Morissette.

You’ve Got a Friend, performed by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King and accompanied by images of MDA families, provided the emotional, inspirational finale.

Also appearing were: Nancy O’Dell, Jann Carl, Alison Sweeney, Ryan Seacrest, WWE Champion The Miz, Paula Abdul, Khloé Kardashian Odom, Max Adler, Lou Ferrigno, Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo, Jesse McCartney, and Benji and Joel Madden.

People can visit mda.org to view performances, backstage interviews and exclusive online bonus performances that did not air on the September 2 broadcast.

As a way of saying “thank you” to viewers and the generous public for its ongoing support of MDA, the exclusive bonus performances include: Carole King singing Beautiful and OneRepublic with their smash hit Good Life.

Fans of Hot Chelle Rae can see them perform Whatever; Alanis Morissette sings You Learn; Gavin DeGraw delivers with his song Soldier; and B.o.B contributes two performances, So Good and Strange Clouds.

Families give new meaning to the word “strength”

Individuals and families affected by neuromuscular diseases – such as Bryson Foster, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy – were the real stars of the show and were introduced in profile segments.

In addition to Bryson Foster, the show featured 14-year-old Latondra Chappell, who has central core disease; 17-year-old Kennedy Healy, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); 7-year-old Reagan Imhoff, also affected by SMA; and 12-year-old Justin Moy, a science enthusiast with congenital muscular dystrophy who says he wants to “become a biochemist and find a cure for muscular dystrophy.”

Featured adults included Veronica Niño and Shaun Probert, both of whom have ALS, and Angela Wrigglesworth, a fourth-grade teacher with SMA who shared that MDA summer camp helped her “to become an independent woman.”

Also appearing were MDA spokespeople Augie and Lynne Nieto, Luke Christie, Abbey Umali, Kelly Mahoney, Benjamin Cumbo, Mandy Beckham (formerly Mandy Van Benthuysen) and Lucas Cook.

Special acknowledgment was made of the crucial support provided by MDA national sponsors, including: Acosta, Burger King, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Harley-Davidson, International Association of Fire Fighters, Jiffy Lube International, Lowe’s, National Association of Letter Carriers, Safeway, 7-Eleven, and 7UP.

“In one night, we presented great entertainment, inspiring stories and the unwavering support of our national sponsors and called on the American public to join our <<muscle>> team,” said MDA Executive Vice President of Business Development Kevin Moran.

“MDA SHOW of STRENGTH is bringing a whole new energy to MDA and pointing the way to exciting new directions for all of us who are dedicated to advancing MDA’s mission.”

About MDA

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

In addition to funding some 300 research projects worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters living with progressive muscle diseases.

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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

 

Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan are lending their time and talents to the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the 2012 Labor Day Telethon.

The country music superstars will all participate in the annual MDA Labor Day Telethon, called MDA Show of Strength, on September 2.

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, among others. In addition, six families who have a personal connection to muscular dystrophy will share stories of strength, revealing how they have coped with such a debilitating disease.

Luke Bryan is lending his time and talent to the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the 2012 Labor Day Telethon, now MDA Show of Strength

Luke Bryan is lending his time and talent to the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the 2012 Labor Day Telethon, now MDA Show of Strength

“We couldn’t be more excited about the show and the incredible talent we have lined up this year,” says MDA Interim President Valerie Cwik, M.D.

“MDA is in business to save and enhance lives. Our show will both entertain and urge the American public to answer the call to support critically important research and services for more than a million Americans affected by neuromuscular diseases.”

MDA Show of Strength will air September 2 at 7:00 PM ET on MDA’s Love Network of more than 150 stations across the country, as well as on the MDA website.

 

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MDA Show of Strength is still on Labor Day weekend, still features top entertainment and inspiring stories, and still urges viewers to support MDA’s missions of help and hope.

But beyond that, MDA’s annual telecast is a whole new ballgame.

Muscular Dystrophy Association explains how MDA Labor Day Telethon becomes MDA Show of Strength starting with 2012 edition:

“What?

MDA SHOW of STRENGTH is a three-hour entertainment special featuring original performances by A-list entertainers, and special stories about individuals and MDA’s research and services missions.

Why the change?

With literally hundreds of entertainment options at their fingertips, TV viewers are looking for compact shows that tell a story. In addition, the new preproduced format is more attractive to top talent, who often had difficulty arranging to perform live on Labor Day weekend.

MDA Labor Day Telethon becomes MDA Show of Strength starting with 2012 edition

MDA Labor Day Telethon becomes MDA Show of Strength starting with 2012 edition

When and where?

Sunday, September 2, 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times, 7 p.m. Central and Mountain; on some 150 “Love Network” stations around the U.S. The show also will be streamed on mda.org. Online extras include exclusive backstage videos.

Who will be profiled on the national show?

See MDA Matters for a complete list of children and adults who will be the subjects of video vignettes.

Will there still be local cutaways from the national broadcast?

You bet. Local broadcasts will showcase individuals, families and MDA sponsors closer to home. In addition, members of the MDA community will make up the audience when the entertainers pretape their performances, bringing a “family feel” to the show.

Has the message changed too?

Never. MDA is still raising money to provide hope (research) and help (clinics, camp, information and support) to people with neuromuscular diseases. And it’s still true that the generosity of the American public is what makes this lifesaving mission possible.

How can you help? Show your strength!

Post about it on your Facebook page, Tweet about it, and tell all your friends to tune in on Sept. 2 and make a donation to MDA.”

 

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None of the local TV stations in the Mobile, Alabama-Pensacola, Florida TV market are expected to broadcast the MDA Labor Day Telethon scheduled for Sunday, September 2nd, according to a list of TV stations currently affiliated with the association on its official website.

This would be the second year in a row that none of the TV stations in the area had plans to broadcast a telethon from MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association).

The MDA Show of Strength (previously known as the MDA Labor Day Telethon, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon) is an annual telethon in the United States to raise money for the MDA.

The MDA Show of Strength, previously known as the MDA Labor Day Telethon, is an annual telethon in the US to raise money for the MDA

The MDA Show of Strength, previously known as the MDA Labor Day Telethon, is an annual telethon in the US to raise money for the MDA

WJTC-TV was the last local TV station to broadcast telethon programming from the MDA after having done so every year from 1996 to 2010. Afterwards the MDA announced plans to provide telethon affiliates about six hours of programming in 2011 rather than about 21 hours and 30 minutes of programming as they did in previous years. The plans also included providing the entire telethon to the stations on the day before Labor Day from 6:00 p.m until 12:00 a.m rather than from 8:00 p.m. on the day before Labor Day until 5:30 pm. on Labor Day like previous telethons (WJTC-TV usually began broadcasting the telethons on Labor Day rather than the day before).

The telethon for 2012 is now scheduled to be provided for three hours from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. rather than from 5:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. just like the last telethon. Residents of the Mobile, Alabama-Pensacola, Florida TV market may still be able to receive the telethon for 2012 if they have access to WGN America, a cable TV and satellite programming service, or the MDA website with a live video stream of telethon programming.