News / USA

Televised Concert to Raise Funds for Haiti

Top stars in the music world will raise funds for Haitian earthquake victims in a telethon Friday evening.  The Hope for Haiti fundraiser was organized by actor George Clooney and will feature Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and many others.

The two-hour event will originate in Los Angeles, where George Clooney will host, and New York, where the Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean will emcee.  CNN's Anderson Cooper will report from Haiti and musicians will join the show from London.

Bruce Springsteen will perform in New York, along with Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira and Sting.  Musicians on stage in Los Angeles will include Justin Timberlake, Dave Matthews, John Legend and Stevie Wonder.

Jay-Z, cBono, Rihanna and Coldplay will join the telecast from London.  The program will be broadcast commercial-free and can be seen on MTV, CNN, and other major broadcast and cable networks.

Jonathan Taplin, a film professor at the University of Southern California, says celebrities have a long history of helping in natural disasters.  Taplin produced the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 to help the war ravaged country, which had recently been subject to devastating flooding.  That event, organized by George Harrison and Indian musician Ravi Shankar, was the first of many celebrity telethons that have helped with causes ranging from famine in Ethiopia to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

He says the involvement of artists such as Clooney in this humanitarian crisis is important.

"They could be ignoring this, or they could be doing something.  The fact that they're not ignoring it seems to me to be a good sign to everybody," he said.

He says appeals by celebrities are often more effective than requests from politicians.

With the Hope for Haiti concert, Clooney is involved in his third major fundraising effort.  The actor raised funds for victims of the September, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2004 South Asian tsunami, and has had an ongoing involvement with the humanitarian crisis in Western Sudan.

American sports figures have helped with the effort to raise funds for the Haitian earthquake victims.  The National Football League urged fans to text-message donations during divisional playoffs over the weekend, and the Red Cross says they flowed in at the rate of $500,000 an hour.  Taplin notes that new technology provides an easy and effective way of giving.

"You can literally just put in a short code and it deducts $10 from your phone bill," he said.

Funds from the Hope for Haiti telethon will be distributed to a number of relief organizations, including UNICEF, the Red Cross and Oxfam America.

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