PBS Pulls Out As "Evening" Sponsor

Show’s ticket sales also lagging

The annual ‘An Evening with Champions’ (EWC) is facing a serious setback this year as Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) pulled out of their deal to televise the show, making it the first time in 25 years that the show will not appear on national television.

Organizers said today that ticket sales are floundering and that the show may only raise “at a high estimate” $30,000 as opposed to $84,000 last year.

Proceeds from the show are donated to the Jimmy Fund for cancer research

“It’s a huge setback for us,” said Emily R. Murphy, ’03, the Treasurer of EWC, of PBS not sponsoring the show this year.

“Because we would need to put in $75,000 to televise the show, we are not televising it, to allow us to donate as much as possible to the Jimmy Fund,” she added.

Those organizing EWC this year said they don’t know why PBS is not sponsoring the show this year, although Co-Chair of the Planning Committee Alyssa M. Varley, ’02, speculated that the decision was probably due to a marketing scheme.

“PBS is probably looking at a younger, more hip target audience,” she said.

In another blow to the show, long time host and supporter, Paul S. Wylie `91, the 1992 Olympic Silver medallist in men’s figure skating, announced that he will not emcee the show this year.

“It’s pretty significant,” Murphy said of Wylie’s absence. “He’s very popular in the Boston area and a lot of people come to the show to see him,” she said.

Every year EWC gives world-class ice skaters an opportunity to express their artistic and athletic ability before an audience of all ages.

The event usually raises close to $100,000, through sponsorships and ticket sales. The money is then donated to the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Donations this year have dropped drastically because of the Sept. 11 disaster,” said Varley. “Ticket sales are down to 1,400 so far, from about 6,000 last year, so we’re really hoping that students will come forward to attend this event.”

Matthew L. Butler, ’04, an avid figure skating buff, said he is also a little concerned that some well-known skaters may not make it to this year’s EWC.

“Because of the upcoming Olympics in February 2002, world class participants of last year’s show will not be able to fit this event into their training schedule, Butler said.”

On a brighter note, however, he added that this year’s EWC would showcase enthusiastic rising stars such as Johnny Weir, the 2001 World Junior Champion, among others.

The event, started in 1970 by John M. Petkevich, ’71, has raised over $2 million over the past 30 years.

A routine check-up in the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Brookline, MA, in 1970 provided the inspiration for EWC.

inspiration for EWC. Petkevich, then a junior at Harvard, met several children being treated for leukemia.

Petkevich and other students at Eliot House decided to help these children, and others like them. A few weeks later they organized an exhibition of nationally ranked figure-skaters in the first Evening with Champions show to benefit the children with cancer.