Sunday TV: It’s Telethon Day; Where’s Jerry?

Jerry’s Kids are left without a father figure this weekend as the 46th annual MDA Labor Day Telethon (WGN, 6 p.m.) plays it short and sweet tonight, wrapping up at midnight and not including for the first time Jerry Lewis, who has parted with the show under circumstances that are still not clear.

Maybe it’s a way to jazz up the show, one of the old throwbacks not only of television but of early 20th century entertainment. Watch a few mid-morning hours of the telethon decades ago (when it was the only program each year that actually played all night) and you’d catch glimpses of vaudeville in its corn and emotion.

They’ve promised more big time names this year, with Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Steven Tyler, Jordin Sparks, Richie Sambora and Lady Antebellum (but hey, Jerry got everybody from Frank Sinatra to John Lennon to be on his event over his 45 years running it).

And who do they have to replace Lewis as host. We’ll you’d be hard pressed to find a more annoying bunch: Nancy O’Dell, Jann Carl, Nigel Lythgoe and Alison Sweeney all sharing duties.

Oh it’s all for the kids, right? And curing the disease. So tune in and pledge anyway. And complain about the lack of Jerry Lewis as well while you’re on the line.

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