Luxe Life Blog
Photo Gallery: Jerry Lewis lines up stars to surpass $65 million
Comedy legend and Las Vegas hometown hero Jerry Lewis is now just days away from the 44th Annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon, and Jerry’s convinced that even in these difficult economic times, supporters across the country will still help Jerry’s kids and break last year’s record $65 million effort.
A host of stars has been lined up for the Sunday and Monday live broadcast from South Point, with a special video homage to Jerry’s late co-host Ed McMahon. Ed was Jerry’s regular co-host for 40 years before his death on June 23 at age 86.
“I’m determined to keep fighting for a cure for muscular dystrophy because my kids deserve to live long and healthy lives,” said Jerry, who serves as MDA’s national chairman. “The telethon gives us the chance to help put an end to these debilitating diseases, while entertaining and educating the American public.”
With Ed’s death, many celebrities will now act as co-hosts onstage. They include television’s Jann Carl, American Idol favorite and Broadway’s Grease star Ace Young and The Biggest Loser host and Days of Our Lives star Allison Sweeney. Tom Bergeron of America’s Funniest Home Videos and Dancing With the Stars also will be featured.
Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood also returns as co-host in her new role as MDA National ALS ambassador. Nancy is raising awareness of MDA’s battle to find a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She joined MDA’s fight against ALS after her mother died of the disease last year.
Entertainment for this year’s telethon includes country queens Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, singers Lee Greenwood, Tony Orlando, Riviera headliner Charo, Wynonna, Train, American Idol’s Bo Bice, Mirage ventriloquist Terry Fator, Flamingo comedian George Wallace, rockers Three Dog Night and Joshua Bell accompanied by Frankie Moreno. The Three Dog Night performance will be a live remote broadcast directly from Fremont Street Experience stage.
Las Vegas-based songwriters, performing and producing duo Denny Randell and Biddy Schippers, also will perform a hit-packed medley of their songs and dance music hits, including their classics made famous by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and my longtime favorite “Native New Yorker.” They also will premiere their own stage show, which will launch later this year, during the telethon.
Some 40 million viewers are expected to watch the telethon, while countless more will watch on the Internet via streaming video provided by Real Networks. For the second year, an online auction will take place in conjunction with the telethon. The Telethon Online Auction, which runs from Sept. 1-15, includes a wide array of unusual and one-of-a-kind items, many provided by MDA sponsors and celebrity friends. The marathon live satellite broadcast from South Point begins at 6 p.m. Sunday on 180 Love Network stations and on MDA’s Web site MDA.org. For the first time, social media followers of MDA’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube sites will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the show during the broadcast.
The very first telethon was at Carnegie Hall in New York in June 1956, but became the Labor Day Telethon and was broadcast in 1966 by just one station in New York. It was the first televised fundraising event of its kind, raising more than $1 million. Jerry receives no pay for his tireless year-round work for MDA, and to this day, no one knows why he’s chosen to devote so much time to helping people with the neuromuscular diseases. The telethon moved to Las Vegas first in 1973 after seven consecutive years in New York. Then it moved to Los Angeles for 11 years before returning here in 2006.
MDA is a nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research and also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education to those afflicted.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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