Following up on my post from August 8, I was honored to have acted as one of Jill “the Nerdy Bird” Pantozzi’s assistants at the Jerry Lewis Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Appropriately, we were at the New York telecast within Metropolis Studios in Harlem.

From previous post – If you don’t know Jill already and you like comic books and other pop culture elements such as Doctor Who or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then you’ll want to quickly seek out Jill’s columns at MTV Splash Page, Newsarama and her own blog, TheNerdyBird.com. Jill has been a serious advocate for the MDA since she was just a little girl of 7 years old and appeared on the Jerry Lewis telethon.
Ryan Star

It was Jill’s 20th year at the telethon! I’m happy to report that the joy was overwhelming when we got to see the totals updated periodically on a big screen. The NY area raised over $5.6 million and nationally, people donated over $50 million! I can’t even conceive of that amount of resources for the research and clinical trials which need funding. The MDA website has information about how the money is spent.

There were plenty of amazing people at the event. One of them was Fern Cohen. During Fern’s life she’s had to deal with her neuromuscular disease and if that isn’t enough, she went through a period of having unreliable (and sometimes criminal) home health aides sent by an uncaring agency. Fern received one of the MDA’s Personal Achievement Awards for recognition of all the community service she does. Fern manages to be an advocate without the ability to speak. She uses the internet a lot and for in-person communication, she has a special speech device which is quite sophisticated; it allowed Jill to interview her on camera for the telethon.

The telethon is always Labor Day weekend which is why Jill has never attended Dragon*Con, also Labor Day weekend every year. Even though Dragon*Con has been on my wish list of events for a long time, I have to say, it felt pretty wonderful just being there to hold all of Jill’s stuff and spend time with her mother.

Jill was tweeting updates when she was off-camera.
Tony Orlando & Jill Pantozzi

Tony Orlando hosts the NY telecast and let me say, he’s a total sweetheart. He was incredibly down-to-earth when I met him backstage. There were many performers including Connie Francis and Ronnie Spector but for me, it was all about Ryan Star. I’ve been a fan since I began watching the show LIE TO ME which has this incredible theme song, BRAND NEW DAY. I remember trying to find information on who sang the song and discovered the name Ryan Star. It turns out Ryan was also on a reality/competition show I never watched, ROCKSTAR, which involved a search for Tommy Lee’s band Supernova. I was able to video one of Ryan’s sound checks where he sang BRAND NEW DAY; I wish I could have gotten BREATHE as well because he didn’t sing it again after the rehearsal.