Here Come the Hurricane Benefits
Recalling the star-heavy telethons organized to aid victims of 9-11 and last year’s tsunami tragedy, NBC, MTV and BET are among the networks spearheading benefit concerts to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
NBC Universal announced Wednesday that its event, dubbed A Concert for Hurricane Relief, will air Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. The special will broadcast live in high-definition on the East Coast from NBC’s New York studios in Rockefeller Plaza and air on tape delay in the West.
Among the artists slated to perform are New Orleans natives Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., and Tim McGraw, who hails from Stark, Louisiana. Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio will also be on hand to plead for donations to help those in the Gulf Coast region devastated by Monday’s catastrophic storm. Today show host Matt Lauer will serve as emcee
All funds raised will go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which will provide humanitarian relief in the form of potable water, food, counseling and shelter, among other necessities. Throughout the telethon, viewers will be encouraged to donate by calling 1-800-HELP NOW or via the Web at www.redcross.org.
“I am heartbroken by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in my home state. Like so many Americans I am watching the news reports with great sadness. But it’s at times like these that each of us must work together to provide lifesaving aid to those in terrible need,” McGraw says in a statement.
The singer also posted a letter on his Website asking fans to support the thousands of people left homeless in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana by Katrina, as well as those imperiled by flood waters and the families of the dead, which may number in the thousands in New Orleans alone, according to the mayor.
“Over the last 24 hours, Hurricane Katrina ripped apart thousands of lives and left many homeless,” he writes. “The American Red Cross is rushing relief to storm-weary residents and launching the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster involving thousands of trained disaster relief workers, tons of supplies and shoulders to lean on.”
Rapper Juvenile, who says in a statement that his home in the Big Easy was “completely gone,” made a similar plea.
“It is difficult to describe the feeling of losing friends, not being able to reach others and having all of your personal items destroyed, but I am still one of the fortunate ones to have my music industry family supporting me. Thousands of people have nobody to reach out to for support,” Juve says in a statement. “Please keep our city, its people and our families in your prayers and please donate to the Red Cross.”
Meanwhile, other benefits are being organized in Katrina’s wake.
MTV, VH1 and CMT announced a multi-artist, multi-city concert special set to air across all three networks on Sept. 10 and benefiting the American Red Cross and other relief efforts. There will be performances in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville featuring the likes of Ludacris, Green Day, Gretchen Wilson, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, David Banner and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. The networks will also air PSAs and news reports on the disaster.
BET will team with the National Urban League and the American Red Cross for another telethon effort, set for Sept. 9. Marsalis and hip-hop heavyweights Russell Simmons and Jay-Z will be on hand to unveil details of that show at a press conference Thursday.
Rap mogul Master P and son Romeo, both New Orleans natives, announced the formation of a charity called Team Rescue and initial plans for a “Save Our Hood” concert and album. “We are contributing our own money toward items such as food, clothes and shoes, and we are also reaching out to corporations for donations,” P says. He has set up a Website, TeamRescue.com, to solicit aid.
According to Billboard, the Dave Matthews Band has announced plans to hold a charity concert of its own, adding a fourth show at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater on Sept. 12. Tickets will go on sale next week.
Also getting in on the act is Jive recording artist Bowling for Soup which held a benefit gig on Monday in Shreveport, Louisiana. Dozens of similar benefits are expected in the coming days.
On the TV side, former Night Court star and New Orleans denizen John Larroquette has recorded a PSA asking for donations. Sesame Street Workshop has updated its Website to provide parents with guidance and tools to help kids cope with the calamity. PBS stations will also re-air Sesame Street’s hurricane series and related public service announcements starting Sept. 12.
Here Come the Hurricane Benefits