Stations Plan Relief Telethons

Actor-comedian Chris Rock, left, and Russell Simmons, chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, put their heads together during a press conference, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, in New York, to announce a telethon to raise financial aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The prime-time telethon is Friday, Sept. 9 on BET which is partnering with the National Urban League, American Red Cross and Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and will feature numerous celebrities. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff) AP

Television networks have lined up to host a variety of telethons to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

BET is the latest network to announce a telethon to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, airing as a two-part, four-hour broadcast Sept. 9.

From 6 to 7:30 p.m. EDT, the network will present a special edition of "106 & Park: BET's Top 10 Live," followed by the telethon, which continues until 10 p.m.

Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, Wynton Marsalis and rappers Master P, Juvenile and David Banner are among those scheduled to appear. The initiative is in partnership with the National Urban League and the American Red Cross.

Other previously announced efforts include:

"A Concert for Hurricane Relief," airing on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC at 8 p.m. Friday. The hourlong special, hosted by "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer in New York, is scheduled to include performances by Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Tim McGraw. Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrities are expected to participate.

Over the past three days, Americans reached into their wallets and offered their time to help victims.

The Red Cross has collected $21 million dollars in donations, including almost $15 million from individual donations through its Web site.

Fortune 500 companies, sports stars and entertainers also are making donations. And many churches and restaurants have been holding impromptu fund-raisers.

Celebrities are joining in to help. A shaken and emotional Ellen DeGeneres said her 82-year-old aunt had to quickly evacuate her home in Pass Christian, Miss., as Hurricane Katrina headed toward the Gulf Coast.

"My aunt has lost everything, she has nothing," DeGeneres told AP Radio Wednesday. "She grabbed four pictures out of her house. She's lost her entire life."

DeGeneres said she is talking to networks about organizing a telethon to raise funds for hurricane victims similar to what was done after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Other Katrina telethons are already taking shape, featuring artists including Wynton Marsalis and Green Day, while Jerry Lewis' annual Labor Day fundraiser also will join in.

Lewis said Wednesday his telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association would include celebrity appeals for hurricane relief. MDA will donate $1 million as well to help victims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, he said.

"I need the American people to know I don't want you to forget my (MDA) kids because that suffering is ongoing," Lewis told a Beverly Hills news conference. But he called on donors to divide their compassion in half.

"If you want to send me 20 bucks for my kids, send 10. Send the other 10 to these people in this trouble. The disaster is literally that and it has to be addressed," the actor-comedian said.

Thousands of local radio and television stations pledged Thursday to help raise at least $100 million for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The National Association of Broadcasters, the industry trade group, said it would start the fund-raising by donating $1 million to the American Red Cross.

"Broadcasters are a lifeline to communities in times of crisis, and Hurricane Katrina has touched America's soul like no natural disaster in our history," said NAB president and chief executive Eddie Fritts.

The NAB said radio and TV stations will donate airtime for relief appeals. The stations will also set aside time on Sept. 9, dubbed "BroadcastUnity Day," for fund-raising drives, telephone banks, radiothons and telethons.
  • John Esterbrook

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