The Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon has received its best showing since the recession started in 2008 despite people's dissapointment about Jerry Lewis' retirement from the program. The Sunday (September 4) show, aired on more than 150 stations across the nation, earned nearly $61.5 million, MDA officials said.
This year's gain showed an increase of about $2.6 million over last year while the fundraiser event, which was staged at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada, was shortened from 21.5 hours to six hours. Serving as the hosts were Nigel Lythgoe, Nancy O'Dell, Jann Carl and Alison Sweeney, while the likes of Jordin Sparks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Richie Sambora, Lady Antebellum, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez made appearances.
At one point during the broadcast, Lythgoe did mention the slapstick legend Lewis. "It isn't possible, Jerry, to replace you, sir. What you have done for this organization and its families is something close to a miracle and I know that we all want to carry on your legacy," he said.
The "American Idol" executive producer later admitted after hosting the show that he expected Lewis to participate in the fundraiser in some way. "I was fully expecting him to turn up at any point and join that six hours - and I'm sorry he didn't," he told Associated Press. "And hopefully another year he might. I mean, he knows that he is always welcome on the telethon. It's his baby."
MDA first announced Lewis' retirement as the host of the telethon in May, but stated that he would stay on as chairman and still appear on the show. However, the organization announced in August that the 85-year-old comedian was no longer its chairman. He raised $1.66 billion for the telethon since it started in 1966 from a single station in New York City.