Taped MDA fundraiser leaves Lewis, Las Vegas behind


LOS ANGELES - No tote board. No Jerry Lewis. And not from Las Vegas.

An annual Muscular Dystrophy Association television fundraiser goes a new way today, with a different title and three hours of taped appearances by country music star Carrie Underwood, pop singer Gavin DeGraw, alternative pop group OneRepublic, Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, songstress Carole King and others.

The renamed "MDA Show of Strength" was pre-produced and taped in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, Tenn., association spokeswoman Roxan Olivas said .

It is set to show on various TV and cable channels in 150 markets around the country from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Central and Mountain time and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.

There won't be a traditional tote board, and Olivas said some cities will have local hosts. But the overall event will urge national phone, text and online pledges to fund efforts to find treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases.

The annual Labor Day weekend telethon ended a 45-year run last year with comedian and longtime host Lewis, who turned 86 in March and lives in Las Vegas. Lewis became synonymous with the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon after starting it in 1966 with a 22-hour show at a single TV station in New York.

Lewis was MDA national chairman from the early 1950s to 2011 and is credited with raising more than $1.6 billion over the years. He was nominated in 1977 for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the telethon and muscular dystrophy relief.

The event moved to Las Vegas in 1973 and had stints in Los Angeles before moving back to Las Vegas.

Despite Lewis' absence, telethon officials last year reported raising $61.5 million in a six-hour show with several hosts. A silent montage of Lewis film clips was shown, but he didn't take part in person or tape his signature song, "You'll Never Walk Alone."

 

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