JERRY DOES IT AGAIN ... FOR THE KIDS
A lot of people in this country can't remember a time when Jerry Lewis wasn't doing his Labor Day weekend telethon. It seems as though it was a thousand years ago when Jerry first started the fund-raising event as a small, regional telecast on the east coast. Now more than 200 stations carry the broadcast, which runs nearly 24 hours. This year Jerry and his cast and crew and millions of viewers outdid themselves, racking up a record $58.3 million to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Jerry is now 76, sadly bloated from the effects of constant steroid treatments he takes to treat the pain of pulmonary fibrosis. Again this year, Ed McMahon was his "second banana." Others assisting at the CBS studios in Hollywood included Norm Crosby. Even venerable Andy Williams pitched in, appearing live from his own Moon River Theater in Branson, in the Ozarks of Missouri. According to other information released by producers to media, this was the 37th annual national MDA telethon.
PRINZE AND GELLAR TIE THE KNOT
The photogenic pair of Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar are now Mr. and Mrs. Prinze. You saw them together in "Scooby-Do. Now, according to published reports, they will be seen together in their own personal appearances in the future. Prinze and Gellar apparently tied the knot over the weekend at an undisclosed location in Mexico. Only a few close friends and family members were invited. The couple managed to keep the plans a secret -- which with Hollywood media everywhere, is quite an achievement. Freddie and Sarah have gone together for a while. As a matter of fact, their meeting on a movie set in 1997, followed by a long courtship, announcement of their engagement and now their marriage seems somehow traditional and old-fashioned for Tinseltown. Oh, and by the way, the producers of the original Scooby flick say the pair has signed on to do the sequel.
DID BARBRA STREISAND REALLY RETIRE?
When American diva Barbra Streisand announced that she was going on her final, ultimate "farewell" tour many pundits noted: "She'll be back. Can't keep Barbra off the boards." Well, according to columnist Liz Smith, there are rumblings that Babs will be back, not on a traditional concert tour, but doing a series of fund-raising events for Democratic candidates as the fall, off-year elections approach. Smith points out that during her recent "good-bye" circuit, Streisand told media that she was not going to sing again -- for money. But that leaves the door wide open to a series of "charity" performances. Additionally, Smith points out that she hasn't won an Oscar lately. Maybe it's about time she tried.
AND WHERE IS YOUR TICKET, MR. BASS?
It would seem that the boyhood dreams of "boy singer" Lance Bass have suddenly been dashed. In a release to international media, the directors of the Russian space program say that Bass will not be a part of an upcoming mission to the international space station. The reason would seem to be money. In spite of the fact that Bass has gone through rigorous training and medical testing here in the States (he had a childhood heart problem), he has not been able to find the $20 million to pay for the ticket. Since the earliest talk about Bass going into space, there had been indications that a TV production group was going to foot the bill in order to use footage of his exploits for the ultimate reality television show. At 23 he could have become the youngest human to be launched into space. But, some say there is still time. Stay tuned.
AN ADDITIONAL HONOR FOR GEORGE JONES
With the approaching birthday of country mega-star George Jones just a week away, the Grand Ole Opry says it plans to honor the zillion-selling singer with a celebration on its stage. Already signed on to participate are Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack. Of course, Jones will be there to sing his top hits. As a special treat, actor-singer Jim Lauderdale will do his imitation of Jones. Lauderdale is set to star in a long-awaited production to be called "Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story." It will be staged at the original home of the Opry, the Ryman Auditorium. The special tribute to Jones on the stage of the "new Opry" is set for this coming weekend in advance of the actual Sept. 12 birthday date.
KIDS AREN'T WATCHING ENOUGH NEWS
There was a time in this country when it was impossible to escape hearing news on the radio. Nearly every station had "news on the hour." The CBS hourly radio newscast was 10 minutes long during most of the day, with as much as 15 minutes of additional feature programming. When ABC split into its four original "clone" networks -- Information, FM, Entertainment and Contemporary -- the hourly 'casts were also 10 minutes. Now try to find any news on radio. It's impossible. (Albeit some formerly all-music stations have added a snippet of news at the top of the hour in the wake of 9/11). And when it came to TV news, at one time (in the '60s) more than 80 percent of all television sets were watching either ABC, CBS or NBC and their evening news broadcasts. And, until recently, it was that way in most countries with major news organizations. But now comes word from England that a new survey shows that fewer and fewer young people are watching any TV news, let alone hearing anything but music on radio. The Public Policy Research group says that while Britain's "mainstream" broadcasters are offering more children's programming, they have done little to make the news a priority -- except in times of disaster, for young viewers and listeners. But it may be too late. Since we haven't made news attractive to kids, and they have so many other non-news alternatives, it may be impossible to go back.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 407
Here's a question for anyone who has been a parent, a grandparent or every had to supervise a child: "Have many controls, if any, have you placed on access to TV by children under your care?" Put CHILD in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 402 (LAUGH)
Recently we asked who you thought the funniest comedians and comediennes of all time where. From a quick dip into the mailbox, here is a sampling of replies: First of all, in our survey three funny people got the same number of votes, Lucy, Red Skelton and Robin Williams. Interestingly, Jonathon Winters was next in the votes. Many drew comparisons between Winters and Williams. Pat O was among those who voted for Skelton, but admits that it's tough to compare him and Lucille Ball and decide on a winner. Among Lucy's supporters is Pam S who reminds us about several classic Lucy scenes ... the one where she is stuffing candy in her mouth and the one where she becomes progressively more drunk rehearsing a commercial for that unpronounceable tonic. Others getting chunks of votes were Carol Burnett and several members of her cast, most notably Tim Conway. RB says that Skelton and Redd Foxx were her two favorites. On a personal note: Red Skelton was from Vincennes in Indiana. A city in which I worked for a decade. When I finally met him I was impressed with how tall he was. He had such an aura coming from him that you could nearly feel it. What a truly childlike, funny man. TOMORROW: More from the mailbag. GBA.