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Nets Unite for Katrina Aid

(Posted September 6, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

In a virtual replay of their unprecedented union in the wake of 9-11, the six broadcast networks are setting aside their traditional rivalries and joining together to produce a prime-time benefit concert to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, the WB and UPN announced today that the prime-time special, Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, will take place commercial-free Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. The hourlong telethon will be broadcast by all six networks live to the Eastern and Central time zones from studios in New York and Los Angeles and air on tape-delay to the Mountain and Pacific regions. The special will be made available to other broadcast networks, cable networks, radio stations and Internet providers. E! is among those that plan to simulcast the concert.

Joel Gallen, who produced 2001's America: A Tribute to Heroes, will executive produce the hurricane telethon. Like the 9-11 telethon, Shelter from the Storm will feature musical performances and pleas for assistance from celebrities--the lineup of talent is expected to be released in the coming days.


Among those expected to be on board is Ellen DeGeneres, who was born in the New Orleans area. DeGeneres, whose elderly aunt was among those who managed to survive the deluge, was said to be in discussions to host. On Monday, DeGeneres announced that she and the producers of her talk show had pledged $500,000 to the Red Cross relief efforts in the devastated region and would match viewer donations up to another $500,000.


The six networks had hoped to broadcast the special next Tuesday, but they were forced to push back the event three days due to the logistics of coordinating such a large endeavor. Of particular concern, according to Variety, was wrangling enough phone lines to handle the expected volume just a day after the Labor Day holiday.

Some network execs were previously reported to be peeved with NBC Universal, which jumped the gun and announced its own telethon special, A Concert for Hurricane Relief, that will air tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC and feature performances from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr., Aaron Neville and Wynton Marsalis, along with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, Lindsay Lohan, John Goodman, Claire Danes and Mike Myers soliciting donations. The suits at ABC, CBS and Fox were said to be worried that the NBC event would undercut the joint telethon by siphoning away talent and potential donations, and diminishing the impact of a single event.

But NBC apparently allayed those concerns and said it was pressed to quick action by Connick, who had a relationship with the Peacock due to his recurring role on Will & Grace.

NBC doesn't have the only rival hurricane fundraiser on the drawing board.

Viacom-owned BET previously scheduled a separate event, S.O.S. (Saving Ourselves), for Sept. 9 that will feature Jay-Z, Diddy, New Orleans hip-hopsters Master P and Juvenile, both of whom lost homes to floodwaters, Wynton Marsalis, Mississippi rapper David Banner and Chris Rock. Also on board: Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Common, Usher, Nick Cannon, Omarion, Pharrell Williams, Ciara, Ludacris, Keyshia Cole, Avant, Gerald Levert, Lyfe, Twista, Brandy, Wyclef, Erykah Badu and Star Jones Reynolds. It will overlap the Shelter from the Storm concert, with the BET telethon running from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (tape-delayed to the West Coast).

Meanwhile, Viacom will simulcast ReAct Now: Music & Relief, a multi-artist, multi-city concert special, on Sept. 10 on MTV, VH1 and CMT that will benefit the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other relief efforts. On Friday, MTV announced the latest artists to join the powerhouse bill: the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney, Alan Jackson, 3 Doors Down, Kelly Clarkson, Brian Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, The Neville Brothers, Trent Reznor, Cash Money's Baby and Lil' Wayne.

Finally, Jerry Lewis announced Thursday that his annual Labor Day Telethon benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association will also reach out and solicit funds for Katrina relief efforts. "While the needs of 'my kids' are with us all year round, Hurricane Katrina is a national disaster on a scale that's difficult to comprehend," Lewis said in a statement. "We simply couldn't ignore the need to help. We already have the infrastructure in place."

Additionally, Lewis confirmed that the MDA has pledged $1 million of its funds to aid those in the stricken states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

As for the Shelter from the Storm, organizers said Friday that they will announce means and method for donation soon.


By Marcus Errico



Source: Yahoo! News
 


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