After 45 years, the host of one of U.S. TV’s longest-running special shows is calling it quits.
On Sept. 4, 2011, Jerry Lewis, 85, will appear one more time on the annual Muscular Dystrophy Assn. telethon to sing his trademark song, Rogers and Hammerstein’s "You’ll Never Walk Alone," reports our friend T.L. Stanley on the Los Angeles Times’ ShowTracker blog.
Stanley writes, "Starting this September, the telethon will shrink to six hours, airing from 6 p.m. to midnight. There will still be a mix of entertainment, educational segments, sponsor shout-outs, pledges and local cutaways, but all in much shorter form than in years past. There will be four co-hosts: Nigel Lythgoe of ‘American Idol’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ ‘Entertainment Tonight’s’ Nancy O’Dell and Jann Carl, and ‘The Biggest Loser’s’ Alison Sweeney.
Stanley writes that reportedly Lewis "hadn’t been consulted before the fact about sweeping changes in the show."
She added that Lewis made no mention of any controversy about the changes, instead releasing a statement "saying, simply, ‘it’s time for an all new telethon era.’ "
The telethon still raises a significant amount of money for MDA–last year it brought in close to $59 million, the article notes.
According to the Associated Press, "More than $1 billion has been raised during Muscular Dystrophy Association telethons over the years, association spokesman Jim Brown said. And a national network of some 200 hospital-affiliated clinics has opened since Lewis became involved in the telethon. Lewis’ first live Labour Day weekend telethon in 1966 was broadcast by a single New York City television station. It raised more than $1 million in pledges."