For generations, Jerry Lewis filled the dual requirements of his weekend-long MDA Labor Day Telethon: Raise money, be funny.
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His successor is suited to pick up the tradition. A-list actor and frequent Las Vegas headliner Kevin Hart is reviving the telethon on Oct. 24. “The MDA Kevin Hart Kids’ Telethon is set for Oct. 24. The show will run two hours. A TV partner and online platforms are to be announced.
The Lewis family in Las Vegas says the legend would have approved of Hart as MDA host.
Speaking on behalf of herself and her mother, Sam, Lewis’ daughter, Danielle Lewis, said in an email statement: “We are thrilled that the MDA has chosen Kevin Hart to carry on Jerry’s Telethon legacy. Jerry was always a fan of Kevin Hart’s comedy and it is wonderful that he will be carrying on Jerry’s life goal to find a cure for his ‘kids.’ We are looking forward to see what Kevin will bring to the Telethon.”
Hart said in a statement that the telethon was “an incredible opportunity to bring the work of Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association forward,” adding that collaboration between the two charity organizations was intended “to educate and entertain the public about the need to support people with disabilities and disadvantages, because we are all in this together.”
The program will also feature appearances by celebrity guests including Michael B. Jordan, Eva Longoria, Usain Bolt, Jack Black, Josh Gad and Jillian Mercado.
Along with the MDA, the broadcast and stream will raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and for Help From the Hart, a charity organization founded by Hart that focuses on social, education and health efforts in under-served communities and provides scholarships and vocational training.
Lewis began hosting the marathon telethons in 1966. His final appearance, at South Point hotel-casino, was 2010. The show forged ahead with various presenters before shutting down in 2015. With Lewis as host, spokesman and a living brand, the event raised about $2.5 billion.
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