Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
'Love Network' leveled as Jerry-less Telethon moves to ABC
Once upon a time there was a Telethon, and the month before Labor Day saw a sudden rise in awkwardly cropped pictures of Jerry Lewis' head adorning boxes of Sara Lee pound cake in your grocer's freezer section.
Jerry Lewis, who had hosted the annual Telethon since 1966, was relieved of his duties as Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 2011. In his decades spent with the organization, Lewis helped to raise $2.5 billion dollars to combat the insidious disease that shows a marked fondness for ravaging young bones.
According to Showbiz 411, without Lewis to spearhead the event, the MDA was unable to collect more than 50% of the previous year's pledges.
Not unlike the time Lewis famously split from partner Dean Martin, both sides were loathe to issue an explanation for the sudden rupture. For the MDA to keep silent makes perfect sense. It's not as though Lewis was caught with his hand in the till. For a comic who would do five minutes every time the refrigerator door opened and the light went on, Lewis' sudden insistence on shying away from the media spotlight doesn't compute.
We probably won't learn the reason behind the breakup until around the same time we finally get to behold The Day the Clown Cried: when Jerry wills them to us.
Now comes word of another break from tradition. MDA announced today that the ABC Television Network will act as the new home of the annual fundraiser. In moving the show to ABC, the MDA has effectively dismantled Jerry's string of local affiliates across the country know affectionately as the 'Love Network.'
No need in calling for a 'Timpani!' when a simple fade to black will do.
Here are but a few Telethon memories from the archives:
More like this:
- The Carpeteria: A brief pictorial tribute to Joe Pesci's 'hair' — July 8, 2013
- The Jerry Lewis Telethon That Never Was — Sept. 6, 2011
- John Waters Offers Advice to "The Loyal-to-Jerry MDA Kids" — Aug. 18, 2011
- Jerry Lewis Out as MDA Chairman and Telethon Host — Aug. 4, 2011
- Jerry Lewis announces he's retiring as host of the MDA Telethon — May 16, 2011