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Stars offer heartfelt performances in benefit

(Posted September 5, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES - It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis.


But “A Concert for Hurricane Relief,” a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West. Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” and said America is set up “to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.”


The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper’s outburst to go out uncensored.


There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge “was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn’t realize (West) had gone off-script,” said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.


As the show came to a close, host Matt Lauer noted that “emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We’ve heard some of that tonight. But it’s still part of the American way of life.”


In a statement, NBC said, “Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks.


“It would be most unfortunate,” the statement continued, “if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion.”



Source: MSNBC News
 


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