Jerry and Friends

Las Vegans are once again invited to view the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon in person at the South Point. Admission is free, although not guaranteed.

Live performers slated for the Labor Day staple’s 44th go-round include singers Bo Bice, Tony Orlando, Joshua Bell (with Frank Moreno), Five For Fighting, Lee Greenwood and Maureen McGovern; the Las Vegas Mass Choir; the Ten Tenors and the Fab Four; comedian George Wallace; and ventriloquist Ronn Lucas.

Wynonna Judd is scheduled to open the 211/2-hour broadcast at 6 p.m. However, seats for the first two hours will be occupied by the association’s VIPs. (Although lines start forming around 6 p.m., the public is usually not admitted until 8 p.m. and must exit for change-outs every one to two hours.)

Terry Fator also is expected to perform, but in a live remote from The Mirage. (Three Dog Night will do the same from the Fremont Street Experience.)

This year’s show will resonate emotionally as the first since 1973 without anchor Ed McMahon. The world’s most famous sidekick died in June.

"It’s hard to imagine doing the show without him," said Lewis, who began his telethon in 1966, in a statement released the day McMahon died.

"Ed was a dear, dear friend. We were always making jokes, cracking each other up. He cared deeply about people with muscle diseases. On the telethon, he was my right-hand man."

McMahon’s void will be filled by three show business personalities. Nancy O’Dell of "Access Hollywood" and Jann Carl of "Entertainment Tonight," who co-hosted with McMahon last year, will play an enhanced role. In addition, Los Angeles country radio host Shawn Parr will perform McMahon’s usual off-camera announcing.

Lewis, 83, may be battling his own health problems. Earlier this week, he canceled a scheduled interview with the Review-Journal, with an MDA spokesman explaining that he did not feel well but that "it’s nothing major."

The longtime Las Vegas has had health scares — including two heart attacks (a serious one in 1982 and a minor one in 2006) and battles with prostate cancer, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis and back pain.

Lewis’ spokesman said that "he’ll be fine for the telethon," however.

The telethon is scheduled for local broadcast on KTNV-TV, Channel 13, with station personalities hosting the local segments at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at or 702-383-0456.

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