Saturday, October 30, 2010

Randy Travis divorces his old lady

Country music superstar Randy Travis has divorced his wife Lib Hatcher after 19 years of marriage.

Randy Travis is 51. Lib Hatcher is somewhere around 70.

Though there have been rumours Lib might have been Randy's "beard" (they did have a house in Hawaii), there were reports back in July that Randy was cheating with the wife of his dentist. Lib reportedly caught him by sticking a spycam on his tour bus!

Randy and Lib have been together in one way or another for 34 years, ever since he, as the teenage Randy Traywick won a talent contest at the nightclub in Charlotte, North Carolina that Liz owned with her first husband. Randy was 17. Liz was 37. She left her husband for young Randy.

Randy and Liz' relationship raised eyebrows in Nashville and beyond in the 1980s. As far as anyone knew, the older woman Liz was the only girlfriend Randy ever had. They married in 1991.

The couple has a home in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Randy Travis filed the divorce petition in nearby Albuquerque on Thursday. The petition calls for an equal split of assets, and doesn't give a reason for the split besides saying a "state of incompatibility exists between the parties."

Lib will stay on as his manager.

Randy Travis was considered "too country" when he broke in Nashville in the Eighties, but Lib Hatcher got him a record deal. His first album, Storms of Life, was released in 1985 and is one of the greatest country music albums of all time.

George Hickenlooper's last Facebook post

"Thanks to all my new friends
in Austin for making last night's
screening such a great success!
I love Austin! One of the if not
the best audience in the world.
Hope to come back soon...
On to Denver!"

The film director, whose fine work included Mayor of the Sunset Strip, died last night in Denver at 47. He made the post yesterday, before heading to Denver for a film festival with his new movie. Casino Jack starring Kevin Spacey opens in December. His cousin John Hickenlooper is mayor of Denver, a former brewpub owner who's running for governor of Colorado.

George Hickenlooper's last Facebook profile photo:

Danny Gans death house sold

The mansion in which Danny Gans died has been sold, cutting another tie between the family of the late Las Vegas superstar and the city with which he'd been identified for more than a decade.

Coldwell Bankers announced that the lavish estate owned by Gans and his wife Julie was sold quietly this week to a couple from California. Reports say they paid about $9 million for the 9,400-square-foot French-chateau styled main residence on 2.57 acres in Roma Hills in neighboring Henderson, Nevada.

Gans designed the estate, which includes a guest house house, built atop of basement garage in which Gans kept his collection of 20 cars.

Coldwell coordinated the estate sale in conjunction with the auction of a dozen of Gans’ cars and bikes by the Barrett-Jackson auctioneers (the lot fetched about half a million dollars).

Gans' wife and three kids pulled up stakes and moved to the Los Angeles area shortly after Julie Gans called 911 to report she'd found the superstar musical impressionist was found dead in his bedroom in the early hours of May 1, 2009. The charitable, athletic Born Again Christian and family man overdosed on hydromorphone, a powerful opiate sold as Dilaudid and known on the streets as "drug store heroin."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Katie Couric thinks you need a bath

Once was a time when network news nabobs considered everything between the New York-DC corridor and Los Angeles as "flyover country"-- the vast middle of America that looked eastward for guidance and leadership, and west for news of dead celebrities and earthquakes.,not worthy or economical for coverage beyond the occasional natural disaster or shooting spree. That time passed abut twenty-five years ago, as cheap satellite technology made it possible to set up camp in any part of the world, and the advent of tabloid television era broke the elitist network news grip on coverage and influence and changed the news coverage palette for good.

So it's quaint at the least to see that "Katie" Couric, who's taken over as "anchor" of the anachronistic CBS Evening News, still refers to everything West of the Hudson as "this great unwashed middle of the country."

"Unwashed" or "Great unwashed" is a derogatory term for the multitude of "ordinary" people.

CBS News handout photo
Now you know why you haven't noticed those network news shows, and why it's probably a good idea, as Howard Kurtz's article in the Daily Beast indicates, that she stay on the job for a few more years at a reduced salary.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art Vargas brings touch of Prima to the Palms

Art Vargas himself summed it up in hipster code for his Facebook friends early this morning: "Mondo Lounge was a gass!... Swingin time with the swank set... very cool crowd, swank settin' hipsters... diggin the scene, layin it down old school style... like no other dig it the most daddy!"

The red hot Vargas brought down the house at the Palms' Key West ballroom in Las Vegas last night, working the Mondo Lounge convention crowd and giving bookers, agents and tastemakers another solid reason why the man who's played the big rooms reviving the ghost of Bobby Darin while working lounges and bistros with his own retro-themed classic Vegas act, deserves a showroom of his own, his name on a giant marquee and billboards in and on the way from the airport as big and ubiquitous as Danny Gans'.

And while Vargas has the potential to take Danny Gans' role as the living embodiment of Las Vegas entertainment, the mantle he's really in line to assume is that of Louis Prima, the all-round entertainer who turned the Vegas lounge into the center of Vegas cool, and deservedly ascended to headliner status. Nothing made that more clear by the guest shot in last night's show by none other than Prima's daughter, Lena. Lena, youngest daughter of Louis Prima and Gia Maione, has carried on with her Louis-centric career and is regarded as Vegas loyalty.

Posted Vargas: "What A GASSS it is performing with you Lena!! Lets build a barn and do a show! just like Mickey & Judy! you are great, you must have your dad's heart and soul, what a legacy, the passion and performance is so real, what a thrill, and the audience so loved it! It is magical ..."

The Vegas media will catch up soon enough. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Michael Douglas, the defiant one

Michael Douglas, shown this morning in New York City, is said to responding well to chemotherapy and radiation treatment for his Stage 4 throat cancer. The Oscar® winning actor has roles in two movies released this year that will surely vie for Best Actor Academy Award® nominations. We expect to see him at the ceremony after he beats this.

Art Vargas plays the Palms Saturday night

Art Vargas, the charismatic, energetic veteran showman we've picked as a prime candidate for a showroom of his own on the Las Vegas Strip, gets a few blocks closer when he brings his show to the Palms Casino Resort Saturday night at.

That's tomorrow. At 8.

Hot off last weekend's success at the Rampart, Vargas and his group The Swank Set will be the highlight of the "Mondo Lounge Ultimate Retro Party and Conference," which "brings together fans of retro fashion, tiki, pin-ups, exotica music, Atomic Age cocktails, bachelor pad living, ballroom dance and the vintage Vegas Rat Pack vibe," which Vargas brings in spades with his signature brand of very timely retro cool rock and jazz. Bookers, tastemakers, music critics, gossips and big time talent agents are well advised to make their way to the Palms. Vargas is Vegas future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chris Montez returns to El Camino College!

Pop music legend performs
Friday, November 19th!

With sneak preview of the Chris Montez biopic!

It'll be a rock 'n' roll homecoming for pop icon Chris Montez when he plays at El Camino College on November 19th, along with another sneak preview of his film bio-in-the-making.

Montez grew up in nearby Hawthorne, California, and enrolled at the Torrance college back in the Sixties, after he washed out of the rock 'n' roll factory after hits like Let's Dance and Some Kinda Fun-- and before his rediscovery by Herb Alpert, which led to a revived career and classic cool hits like Call Me and The More I See You.

Film fans will recall that his hit Let's Dance served as the soundtrack to the frat house comedy classic, Animal House.

Sharing the bill with Chris Montez is Help Light, a band that fashioned a fresh new sound by incorporating the best musical elements from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Help Light’s musicianship and songwriting has earned high praise and admiration from a long list of fans and industry insiders, including Beatles producer and arranger George Martin.

The show is the latest stop in a Chris Montez revival that included a rousing appearance at the NY Metro Fest for Beatles Fans in March, and a intimate performance with jazz guitar virtuoso Sid Jacobs at the Pacific Palisades Film Festival in May, and a rocking show that included a set by Gary Busey at the Paso Robles Digital Film Festival last November. At each stop, the music was accompanied by a preview screening of El Viaje Musical de Ezekiel Montanez: The Chris Montez Story.

The nonfiction film is still in production by our pals at Frozen Pictures, and features famous names like Herb Alpert, Tommy Roe and Andrew Loog Oldham. The preview focuses on Montez's 1963 concert tour of England, which featured the Beatles as the opening act-- just as Beatlemania was breaking out-- and Montez's distinct but little-known influence on the group's style and sound.

The concert is a fundraiser for the El Camino College Foundation and the Friends of the El Camino College Library’s Living Archives Project.

Showtime is Friday, November 19 at 8:00 pm in Marsee Auditorium on the El Camino campus.

General admission is $25.00, plus $2.00 for a parking permit. For tickets call: 310 329-5345 (toll free at 800 832-ARTS), or visit the Marsee Auditorium box office, Monday – Friday, 10 am to 6 pm.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tragic Kingdom: Disneyland's haunted parking structure of terror

The suicide last night at Disneyland's Mickey & Friends parking structure adds an unintended real-life macabre twist to the park's Halloween Time celebration. Attractions including Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion have been tricked out in special Halloween themes. How many parents, while walking their kids to the escalators on their way from their cars to the trams that lead into the Magic Kingdom, will spin tales of the ghosts that haunt the parking structure?

Fun facts: The garage holds 10,500 car and was the world’s largest parking structure when it was constructed in 1998. It may still be. the last Disneyland suicide we reported was in 2008.

Another suicide at Disneyland

A man committed suicide yesterday by leaping from an upper floor at the Mickey & Friends parking structure at Disneyland. Anaheim Police say the unidentified man, believed to be in his forties or early fifties, jumped from the southwest corner of the structure and was found around 8:45 p.m. Police spokesman Rick Martinez said the man didn't carry any identification on him but did leave a suicide note.

Mickey & Friends is Disneyland's main parking structure. The rooftop level is called "Minnie."

Why can't we find cans of Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts in Los Angeles?

Cans of Planters' popular honey roasted peanuts disappeared from supermarket shelves months ago, around the time its "healthy" "NUT-rition" cans began taking up space.

Mr. Peanut, what happened?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Steve Friess pulls boners in LA Weekly transgender sportswriter story

Las Vegas blogger, New York Times stringer, Gay Vegas author, concert promoter and comp queen Steve Friess apparently made some embarrassing errors when he brought his opinionated work to Los Angeles in the form of a reheated LA Weekly cover story on the tragedy of LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner, who committed suicide after coming out publicly as a transgender, then changing his mind.

A correction in the LA Weekly print editions and website today reads:

"A story published August 20 about the life and death of former L.A. Times sportswriter Mike Penner incorrectly spelled Amy LaCoe's last name as LeCoe. In addition, the story should have said that Penner's father died 12 years ago, not when Penner was 12 years old; that Penner met his future wife, Lisa Dillman, when she worked at the Detroit News, not at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; and that the couple wed in 1986, not 1987."

We'd criticized the article after it was published in August as a riff on past coverage, including details from a comprehensive Los Angeles Times article, and spanked Freiss for his lazy and kneejerk degrading descriptions of Los Angeles architecture.

Friess came to our attention in May 2009 when he attacked us publicly for asking questions about the mysterious death of Las Vegas superstar Danny Gans. He later helped in an active campaign to mislead reporters on the case-- and made a move to have this site closed down.

The Yankles? New team takes new swing at bringing professional baseball to Israel!

Remember the Israel Baseball League? How could you forget? Tabloid Baby's comprehensive coverage of the disastrous 2007 season and the tragicomic failed attempts to carry on led to our editor and Our Man Elli in Israel being submitted for a Pulitzer Prize-- being cut off at the pass by gatekeeper Sig Gissler-- and given a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Now, a new group of sportsminded US businessmen with stars-- and shekels-- in their eyes-- are ready to give it another go. Our Man Elli leads us to the article in YNetNews, noting that it "mistakes Martin Indyk for Dan Kurtzer":

NY Yankees make aliyah

Co-Owner of legendary American baseball team
promotes initiative to establish
professional baseball league in Israel
Itamar Eichner

American businessmen, including one of the owners of legendary baseball team The New York Yankees – which is worth approximately $1.5 billion – are promoting an initiative to establish a professional baseball league in Israel.

The businessmen visited Israel and held meetings with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom and Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat, in which they asked for their assistance.

As part of the initiative, the businessmen proposed to build a baseball stadium near Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, which will serve as Israel's central baseball hub.

Following the meeting, Barkat promised to promote the project and help find a proper location for the construction of the stadium.

Minister Shalom offered the businessmen governmental aid, if they were to build stadiums in the country's northern and southern regions.

"The entrepreneurs are aware
that baseball is not
very popular in Israel,

but believe it can
gain a following.

Officials were also examining the possibility of building a stadium in Netanya, which brands itself as Israel's sports hub.

One of the men involved in the project is billionaire Jeffrey Rosen, who owns Israeli basketball team Maccabi Haifa.

The businessmen have also approached Israeli diplomats, and asked them to help coordinate meetings with Israeli officials that can help promote the project.

The entrepreneurs are aware of the fact that baseball is not very popular in Israel, but believe that with time it can gain a following. At first, they plan on catering to American expatriates living in Israel, who continue to follow the popular American sport.

Past attempts to import the sport have proved unsuccessful. In 2007, the first professional Israeli baseball league was established, and one of its managers was former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.

Six teams participated in the league's first season, but the second season was cancelled after the league suffered financial loses. Despite the failure of previous initiatives, the American entrepreneurs, who enjoy the support of The NY Yankees, want to have another go at it, and believe this time they will hit a home run.

Cick here to read Tabloid Baby's entire coverage of the Israeli baseball fiasco.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to LA, Richard Johnson

Tabloid Baby pal Richard Johnson is leaving his job as editor of the New York Post's Page Six and moving to Los Angeles. Johnson has been at the helm of the most influential gossip column of our time for close to twenty five years, and a made a little gossip himself along the way while steering the column from the days of Sukhreet Gabel and Mark Gastineau. We'd have thought Johnson would have headed West fifteen years ago to become a television star, but he was to be respected as one of the last of the print guys. His skipping of the medium and move to a News Corp, "digital venture" signals the death of print gossip as far as we're concerned. Long live Jim Brady and Neal Travis.

Click here to read Richard Johnson's goodbye to New York. Last line:

In the words of J.J. Hunsecker, "I love this dirty town."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MDA to Jerry Lewis: "Thanks and f--- you!"

The Muscular Dystrophy Association has distanced itself from and shown great disrespect toward its greatest asset and the man who gave it an international identity, saying today that Jerry Lewis "will be asked" to participate in the drastically-slashed telethon in 2011.

We reported five days ago that something was amiss in the MDA's announcement that it would turn the 21 1/2 hour national tradition into a six-hour Sunday night television special because its announcement did not mention Lewis' name, while featuring photos of subhost Jann Carl. The following day, we reported exclusively word from a telethon insider that Jerry Lewis was not part of the decision-- and that the MDA officials consider the end of Lewis' reign to be a "transitioning."

Today, John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun picked up the story, reporting that by all indications, Lewis will have a diminished presence on the revamped television special.

He quoted MDA PR VP Jim Brown:

“Jerry Lewis has been MDA’s national chairman for more than 50 years. He’s a world-class humanitarian how has done an absolutely outstanding job for the families served by the association. Jerry will be asked to play a key role in the 2011 telethon.”

Kats emphasized the "will be asked. Not, has been asked. "Lewis has been informed of, not consulted about, the drawdown of the show. He had nothing to do with that decision, which organizers feel will intensify interest in the program and appeal to big-name celebs who want to reach a large audience in prime time instead of the insomniacs tuning in at 3 a.m."

Kats says Jerry returned his phone call this morning and said, "I have nothing more to discuss about the situation," but called back later and promised to speak over coffee later in the week.

Stay tuned.

Where's Jerry? Read the MDA press release


TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 6, 2010 – The Muscular Dystrophy Association today announced an important change to its perennial Labor Day Telethon, which for 45 years has galvanized tremendous public support for MDA’s lifesaving mission. The Association will shave more than 15 hours off its previous 21½-hour Telethon format. The move is central to a strategy to increase audience for and income from its 2011 Labor Day telecast. The 2010 Telethon raised $58.9 million.

“Ever since pioneering the Telethon as a fundraising, education and sponsor-recognition program, MDA has enjoyed unparalleled support from television and cable stations across America,” said Gerald C. Weinberg, MDA president & CEO and Telethon executive producer. “Our ‘Love Network’ of some 170 stations annually helps us reach an audience of some 40 million Americans. The stations’ efforts, and those of our national, regional and local sponsors, have been truly outstanding.

“What we’re doing now has amazing potential,” Weinberg added. “The shorter format means every hour of our show will be in the extended prime-time window of 6 p.m. to midnight in every time zone. This means our live, or tape-delayed Sunday broadcast with live local segments, will be even more attractive to stations that otherwise primarily would be running repeats from last season. The talent we’ll be attracting will be even bigger, since every moment of our prime-time show will have a tremendous audience.”

With its unrivaled Telethon track record, the Association could very well experience a net gain in total markets reached by its venerable show in 2011. There are more than 1,200 television stations serving communities across America, and it should be much easier for stations to clear six broadcast hours for proven live programming, than it has been to clear nearly two days of programming for the Telethon.

Weinberg explained, “The combination of buzz surrounding the new MDA Labor Day Telethon, and the tremendous good will that stations, on-air personalities and sponsors have consistently enjoyed by partnering with MDA, are a powerful combination. That’s why we’re so optimistic about the new show’s ability to increase audience reached and income in 2011.”

“There’s nothing like our Telethon,” noted Lee Miller, longtime Telethon producer. “In 2010, some 65 top acts performed, including some amazing production numbers by Tyce Diorio of “So You Think You Can Dance” as well as top Broadway and Las Vegas show segments. Our 2011 prime-time focus should make it easier to fill every moment of the show with the best headline entertainment.”

Rich MDA Telethon History

Over the years, countless megastars have appeared on the Telethon to help families affected by muscular dystrophy. And the surprise Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis reunion organized by Frank Sinatra still is one of the 10 best television moments of all time.

The who’s who of historical MDA Telethon appearances by contemporary stars includes: Jerry Seinfeld, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, Adam Sandler, Nigel Lythgoe, Nancy O’Dell, Donald Trump, Neil Patrick Harris, Larry King, Jimmy Fallon, William Shatner, Alison Sweeney, Wayne Brady, Drew Carey, Regis Philbin, Dr. Phil, Howie Mandel, Jason Alexander, Jann Carl, Woody Harrelson, Billy Crystal, Alan Alda, Tom Arnold, Terry Fator, Carrot Top, Martha Stewart, Bill Cosby and Don Francisco of “Sabado Gigante.”

Consider contemporary musical acts, too, and it’s easy to see why the MDA Telethon is so much a part of Americana. The Telethon audience has enjoyed Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Mariah Carey, Clint Black, Cher, David Archuleta, John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting, Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Train, Aretha Franklin, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Elton John, Wynnona Judd, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Paul McCartney, Mindy McCready, John Mellencamp, Reba McEntire, Carlos Santana, LeAnn Rimes, Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Sugarland, Spice Girls, Stevie Wonder, Donny and Marie Osmond, Clay Aiken, Chicago, KISS, Jon Bon Jovi, Kid Rock, Tracy Lawrence, Billy Ray Cyrus, Randy Travis, Kenny Rogers and the Rolling Stones. Even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, performed on the MDA Telethon.

About MDA

The Muscular Dystrophy Association pioneered cause-related marketing decades ago, and annually orchestrates thousands of special events in communities across America with the help of outstanding local, multiregional and national sponsors. The first organization with a national Telethon, MDA also is the first nonprofit to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association (“for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity”).

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lightman's solo act issue in Osmond lawsuit

There's an interesting and forgotten footnote to Chip Lightman's lawsuit against Donny Osmond, for firing him as producer of the Donny & Marie show at the Flamingo. In August, 2009, after it was announced that Donny would compete in ABC's Dancing with The Stars, Mike Weatherford wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

"The Flamingo was wise to lock in the duo with a contract extension through Oct. 15, 2012. The two originally were courted by late impressionist Danny Gans and his manager, Chip Lightman, who produced under the name GansLight Entertainment.

"Lightman says Gans' family is no longer financially involved in the Osmond show. He's helming it under the name Chip Lightman Entertainment. However, the giant building wrap on the side of the Flamingo is cost-prohibitive to change, so Gans' name will stay."

Lightman's suit claims his contract with the Osmonds show runs through October 15, 2012.

In his Las Vegas Sun article on yesterday's Danny Gans Memorial Champions Run for Life, John Katsilometes reports that "Osmond talked glowingly of Gans, who was managed by Lightman and instrumental in bringing Donny & Marie to the Flamingo two years ago. He says he took on the role of spokesman for the annual run-walk charity event as a tribute to Gans."

“'This shows it is not just a publicity thing with me,' Osmond said. 'Danny was such a good friend of mine. We texted jokes to each other. He came to the show, and he’d have notes for me all the time because he’s such a perfectionist. He came into my dressing room and had four pages of notes, and 90 percent of what he said was spot on.”

Donny Osmond hosts Danny Gans run

Though he's being sued by Danny Gans' former manager and producing partner, Donny Osmond couldn't miss hosting yesterday's second annual Danny Gans Memorial Champions run for the Nevada Cance Foundation-- not when it's been retitled the “Danny Gans Memorial Champions Run for Life Hosted by Donny Osmond."

Chip Lightman filed suit after Osmond fired him last month as producer of the Donny & Marie show at the Flamingo on the Las Vegas Strip. Lightman claims the contract runs through October 2012. Donny said he couldn't talk about the lawsuit, but to John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun, did respond to its claim he has a “lavish lifestyle of exotic cars, luxury hotel suites and private jets.”

Said Donny: “I drive a smart car and a pickup. I don’t think those are exotic cars.”

Friday, October 08, 2010

Decision to slash telethon was "strictly MDA"

Though he's national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Jerry Lewis was not involved in the decision to shorten the MDA's annual Labor Day Telethon that he's starred in, tirelessly promoted and has been singularly identified with for 45 years.

A telethon insider tells us the decision to slash the national institution from its 21-hour marathon length and turn it into a Sunday night six-hour primetime special-- tape-delayed to most of the country) was "strictly MDA," and decided "mostly for financial reasons."

"They don't think of it as an end. they think of it as a 'transitioning,'" says the insider.

Jerry Lewis is 84. We're told that his on-screen work in the most recent telethon was limited to six hours, anyway. The unanswered questions are how much he'll be involved in the MDA mini-thon (if at all), and whether the institution can survive without him. The MDA's announcements of the change have featured photos of subhost and former Entertainment Tonight reporter Jann Carl.

Where's Jerry Lewis? Where's the media?

Surprising that the media's not making more of the news of the death of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, or looking into why the Muscular Dystrophy Association is trumpeting the news on its website with a photo of telethon supporting player Jann Carl and not Jerry Lewis himself. Is it a signal Jerry's being pushed aside? His startling display at last month's disappointing, low-wattage event was viewed with horror by many, and his comments about smacking Lindsay Lohan in the mouth days before the telethon were seen as an old man's crazy talk? The story's definitely worth looking into, and we'd figure editors who've grown up with the telethon as we all have would be making hay with this passing.

Back in the day, Jerry would scoff at telethon hosts who wouldn't stay awake and working for the entire 21 hour stretch, and the chopping of the cultural tradition to a bite-sized six hours on a Sunday night that won't even be live for most of the nation is a major cultural milestone, more so than John Lennon's 70th birthday.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Death of a Telethon: MDA's announcement does not mention Jerry Lewis

The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced plans to turn the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon into a six-hour primetime special on its Quest magazine website. The article made no mention of host Jerry Lewis, and ran with a photo of telethon subhost Jann Carl:

MDA Labor Day Telethon
Moves to Shorter Format

by Quest Staff

The 2011 MDA Telethon will run for six hours during prime-time viewing hours, in a bid to increase both audience and donations

Sometimes, less is more — and that’s the strategy behind MDA’s decision to shave off more than 15 hours from next year’s Labor Day Telethon broadcast.

The new six-hour Telethon will run during the prime-time viewing hours of 6 p.m. to midnight (Eastern time) on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and will include the same time-tested mix of top entertainment, profiles of individuals and families with neuromuscular diseases, check presentations by MDA sponsors and live local segments.

The shorter format could well attract more television stations into MDA’s “Love Network,” as it’s easier for stations to clear six broadcast hours for Telethon programming than to clear nearly two days. It’s hoped that the combination of new format and prime-time Sunday viewing slot will result in larger audiences and more income for MDA’s research and services programs.

MDA has presented a 21½-hour Telethon over Labor Day weekend for 45 years.

“Ever since pioneering the Telethon as a fundraising, education and sponsor-recognition program, MDA has enjoyed unparalleled support from television and cable stations across America,” said Gerald C. Weinberg, MDA president & CEO and Telethon executive producer. “Our ‘Love Network’ of some 170 stations annually helps us reach an audience of some 40 million Americans. The stations’ efforts, and those of our national, regional and local sponsors, have been truly outstanding.”

Weinberg noted that MDA has been considering reducing the length of the Telethon broadcast for several years. Feedback from the 2010 show underscored the benefits of an extended prime-time show, he said.

“There’s nothing like our Telethon,” said Lee Miller, longtime Telethon producer. “In 2010, some 65 top acts performed, including some amazing production numbers by Tyce Diorio of ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ as well as top Broadway and Las Vegas show segments. Our 2011 prime-time focus should make it easier to fill every moment of the show with the best headline entertainment.”

The last minutes of the last telethon

Jerry Lewis' over-the-top emotional display at the conclusion to the 45th annual Labor Day Telethon led many of us to suspect that this year's telethon would be his last. As it turns out, with today's announcement, it was the last telethon for all of us. Jerry Lewis at 84 is the last man standing among the show biz pals who once gave great heat and excitement to his annual Labor Day telethons. Now, in the era of Idol Gives Back and George Clooney's star-studded minithons, a six-hour special will replace the annual national show business event.


The annual 20-hour Labor Day Jerry Lewis telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy, a fixture of American life for forty five years, is dead.

After the second year in a row in which Jerry and his surviving pals failed to top last year's total, the monumental annual television event is being downsized, slashed and shortened to a six hour prime time show.

MDA spokesman Jim Brown announced the end of the era, saying that the MDA hopes that giving the telethon a more focused broadcast window, will get bigger and better stars to appear.

The 2011 event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 4, and will reportedly air from 6 p.m. to midnight in each time zone, with only stations in the Eastern time zone carrying it live.

The MDA collected $58.9 million to fund research through last month's 2010 telethon.

Jerry Lewis is 84.