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“He won’t show up,” she said.

Several celebrities planned to appear in the show, with Celine Dion performing during the opening hour and Jennifer Lopez, Lady Antebellum and Boyz II Men making appearances. Taking over from Lewis as the show’s host will be a quartet of stars, including “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, Alison Sweeney of “The Biggest Loser,” and entertainment journalists Nancy O’Dell and Jann Carl.

Instead of Lewis‘ rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the finale was expected to include Jordin Sparks, Richie Sambora and Jon Secada, among others, singing along with 70 children from a Las Vegas choir.

Other entertainers have rushed to defend Lewis and condemn those performing in the show, including a group of comedians in Los Angeles who pushed to get Lewis reinstated. Laugh factory owner Jamie Masada said Friday that comedians would hold a Web-athon on Monday to collect proceeds for an award named for Jerry Lewis, to be given annually to top scientists working to cure muscular dystrophy.

During Wednesday night’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” bandleader Paul Shaffer said Lewis‘ absence seems hard to believe.

“I don’t know how a performer could go on the thing, myself,” Shaffer said. “If I were going to be on it and I heard this _ that Jerry isn’t even going to be there _ I would not go on it. I think it’s insane.”

Lewis raised $1.66 billion for the telethon since it started in 1966 from a single station in New York City. It is scheduled to air this year on more than 150 stations across the nation.

Shaffer told Letterman he had “bomb-sniffing dogs” in Las Vegas trying to find out what went wrong between Lewis and the MDA. Many viewers, including Miller, also want answers.

“If he was asked to leave … if there were something wrong, I would be totally devastated myself as a fan and a viewer, because that’s what I associate,” she said. “It’s Jerry, MDA and the kids. Period.”

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Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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