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Celine, Rush in CBC tsunami benefit
TORONTO (CP) – In what organizers hope will be an unprecedented fundraising event that will make an international statement of generosity, CBC is assembling a live, three-hour broadcast to benefit the victims of the South Asian tsunami disaster.
Canada for Asia will air next Thursday night in prime time on CBC television and radio, and will feature an all-star Canadian entertainment lineup. Organizers have also issued a challenge to the country’s private broadcasters to simulcast the show, which will originate at the network’s broadcast centre in Toronto.
Performers will include Tom Cochrane, Blue Rodeo, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Rush, Molly Johnson, Oscar Peterson, Jann Arden, Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn and, in a special segment direct from her Las Vegas stage venue, Celine Dion.
In addition, non-musical celebrities will range from author Margaret Atwood to sports commentator Don Cherry to Bubbles of the Trailer Park Boys. Ron MacLean and Rick Mercer will serve as co-hosts.
“I would hope private broadcasters like CHUM, CTV, Global will accept this,” said Senator Jerry Grafstein at a Friday news conference. Grafstein was one of the organizers of last year’s SARS benefit concert, Toronto Rocks.
“If we get them all on air at the same time we will reach not only all of Canada – and that’s a goal – it will be a golden and sterling moment.”
Graftstein said that even in the U.S. there’s no such ambitious plan, and if all Media join in it will have a major impact as an international statement. Agencies standing to benefit include World Vision, the Canadian Red Cross, UNICEF, Oxfam Canada, Care Canada, Save the Children Canada, Development and Peace and Oxfam Quebec.
On Thursday, CTV announced plans for its own live, commercial-free telecast of the Concert for Tsunami Relief on Jan. 29, to feature such artists as Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk and the Barenaked Ladies. The two-hour special from Vancouver’s GM Place is a collaboration between CTV and Nettwerk Productions.
Nettwerk is also producing a second benefit in Calgary two days later with many of the same performers. Benefiting charities are Oxfam Canada, Care Canada, Doctors Without Borders and War Child Canada.
Asked about the dangers of donor fatigue setting in, Linda Tripp of World Vision said their experience shows there’s no such thing.
“Canadians step up to the plate,” she said, conceding the non-governmental aid agencies have no idea what the tally will be from the CBC telecast but that any effort is appreciated.
Viewers will be asked to contribute by calling a toll-free number (1-866-334-ASIA) or online at
Graftstein also dismissed the donor fatigue theory and said corporate Canada’s full voice has not yet been heard.
“This event, I believe, presents a fabulous window of opportunity for corporate Canada to join the thousands and thousands of individual Canadians in this incredible community effort.”
Rita Karakas of Save the Children Canada said many NGOs are making long-term plans to rebuild schools and train teachers and midwives, for example, in the years ahead.
“That will take money,” she said. “We all understand that nation rebuilding and community rebuilding and life rebuilding takes time.”
Tripp agreed that beyond the current emergency relief, there are longer-term plans under way and she hopes donors understand that.
Karakas also challenged the Media to keep checking six or 12 months from now to ensure that world governments live up to their pledges.
Meanwhile, CBC organizers promise “a very moving show” that will air live to Atlantic Canada from 6 to 9 p.m. ET Thursday and will be tape-delayed hourly to the rest of the time zones. It will be almost entirely live, although Dion’s Vegas segment is expected to be prerecorded.
Other benefit concerts are planned for Halifax’s Metro Centre on Jan. 11, Toronto’s Opera House Jan. 20 and Ottawa’s Capital Music Hall and Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre, both on Saturday. On Sunday, Toronto’s Omni ethnic TV channels will hold a two-hour on-air fundraising appeal in partnership with Canadians for Tsunami Relief. In addition, parent company Rogers Communications has announced a $150,000 donation to the relief efforts.
And all the major networks are planning coverage of Saturday’s noon ET national commemoration ceremony from Ottawa’s Civic Centre. Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson and Prime Minister Paul Martin will attend the interfaith prayer service.
In the U.S., plans are proceeding for a Jan. 15 live benefit to be carried on NBC and its cable outlets CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Bravo, Trio and the Sci-Fi Channel.
The daylong disaster relief effort on CHUM’s 65 radio and TV stations on Wednesday has so far netted $3.6 million in donations.