Cancer telethon pledges raise $80 mil

Viewership was up, but donations down

More than $80 million in pledges has been collected thus far from Friday’s “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon. The money will go to cancer research and treatment.

While 18.3 million Americans watched some of the hourlong program — up about 15% from the inaugural 2008 telecast — the telethon garnered less than the $100 million raised in 2008. Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which produces “Stand Up to Cancer” with other orgs, attributed the difference to the economy.

“In September 2008 we were not in a down economy,” Paulsen said. “We are now, and we are thrilled that America still came through with extraordinary donations.”

Donations may still be made via phone and online.

The spesh was hosted by Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams and aired commercial free on the Big Four nets, HBO, Showtime and nine other cablers. It featured dozens of celebs. Musical performances from the telecast can be purchased on iTunes. The entire show is still available on the Stand Up to Cancer Web site.

Laura Ziskin exec produced.