Television: Just Don't Call It a Telethon

Nothing makes a TV executive queasier than the word telethon. Jerry Lewis' efforts have done wondrous things, no doubt, for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but as entertainment, they're must-flee TV. So when Simon Fuller, American Idol's creator and sovereign, told Fox executives he wanted to give one week of his prime-time, never-fail, hitmaking show over to fund raising--to make it a sort of telethon--he knew what they were thinking, and it was a word you can't say on TV.

At first blush, you can't blame them. The idea sounds not a little corny. On Tuesday, April 24, Idol contestants will sing...

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