- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 15, 2005

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Norah Jones singing “we’re all in this thing together,” movie and music stars contributed their talents for a hastily arranged benefit for tsunami victims televised live last night.

The two-hour program aired on NBC Universal-owned stations, with all donations going to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.

“We have a choice,” actor Clint Eastwood said. “We can either look away, or we can help.”

The benefit wasn’t without a glitch, however: Singer John Mayer uttered an expletive that got on the air even though NBC was using a five-second delay to protect against such things.

Women had their choice of heartthrobs answering phones and taking pledges in the NBC Universal studios in Los Angeles: Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage, Tom Selleck and James Caan.

The concert was reminiscent of a similar benefit that ran on more than 30 television networks less than two weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. That benefit raised nearly $130 million.

In an echo of the concert three years ago, Madonna sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Singer Neil Young performed the same song at the 2001 benefit.

Actors told stories about the tsunami, and NBC showed pictures of the effects of the devastating waves and the agony of children left behind.

Morgan Freeman told of a 60-year-old man in Sri Lanka who survived for two weeks before being found by rescuers.

“Miracles do happen,” he said. “You can be that miracle also.”

Appearing also was Fox News Channel commentator Bill O’Reilly, who had questioned on his program whether participating stars would follow through to see if the money made it to its intended beneficiaries.

Actor George Clooney challenged Mr. O’Reilly to do his part and participate.

When people are in trouble, “they turn to friends who become their lifeline,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “Who are their friends? You are.”

Gloria Estefan sang “There’s Always Tomorrow.” Former Beach Boy Brian Wilson sang “Love and Mercy.” Other performers included Maroon 5 and Sarah McLachlan.

Viewers were continually urged to call 800-HELPNOW or log on to the Red Cross Web site. In addition to NBC, the program was carried on CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Telemundo, Pax TV, Trio and the Sci-Fi Channel.

Sony’s Connect music store will offer downloads of live performances from the concert, with proceeds going to the American Red Cross. SBC Communications underwrote the commercial-free program.

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