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 V.14 No.2 | January 13 - 19, 2005 

Idiot Box

AID TV

“Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope” on NBC

Shortly before it raised its contribution to the Asian tsunami relief efforts from $35 million to $350 million (as if the first number had been the result of some silly misplaced decimal), the U.S. government insinuated that it didn't really need to contribute any money, since American citizens are so naturally generous and caring. I'm happy to report that is, in fact, the case, with private donations pouring in at a record rate. ... So, while you're at it, the federal government would really appreciate it if you'd take care of that whole social security debacle on your own as well.

With the disaster that claimed an almost unimaginable 150,000-plus lives unfolding on television screens around the world, people of all nationalities began looking for ways to help. The Red Cross, Unicef and Doctors Without Borders were soon flooded with donations. In one week, Unicef saw more donations than it saw all of last year.

Still, the effort to help the people of Southeast Asia will be a monumental undertaking. Thankfully, the same medium that alerted the world to this natural disaster, is pitching in to help.

“American Idol” judge Simon Cowell is teaming up with Sharon Osbourne for an all-star remake of Eric Clapton's “Tears in Heaven.” Gwen Stefani, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne are all reportedly on board. Even infamous “American Idol” castoff, William Hung is pitching in, donating profits from his off-key debut album to victims of the tragedy.

MTV International will be turning its annual MTV Asia Awards into a global benefit to aid in recovery efforts throughout Asia. The show is set to take place in Bangkok's IMPACT Arena on Feb. 3 and may be broadcast in the U.S. on Viacom-owned MTV stations.

Jay Leno, host of NBC's “The Tonight Show” is auctioning off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, autographed by dozens of his guests, including Dustin Hoffman, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Matt LeBlanc, Donald Trump and Ozzy Osbourne. A similar motorcycle, auctioned on eBay in 2001 raised some $360,000 for victims of 9-11. Proceeds from this auction will go to the Red Cross.

Perhaps the most high-profile celebrity effort will take place this week, when the NBC family of stations will be broadcasting a live mini-telethon to help raise money. “Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope” will be broadcast on Saturday, Jan. 15, on NBC as well as its cable channels: USA, Bravo, Trio, Sci-Fi, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo and Pax. Clear Channel will handle the radio broadcast.

The event is modeled after a live telethon broadcast on Jan. 5 by the network's New York affiliate, WNBC. That one raised more than $6 million all on its own. The nationwide concert/telethon is still in the process of adding guests, but will feature actors like George Clooney, Danny Glover, Courtney Cox, Téa Leone and Sarah Jessica Parker. Musical performers lined up right now include Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw and Clay Aiken.

Following the outpouring of sympathy and affection the world showed us in the wake of September 11, 2001, it's heartening to see Americans respond in kind. If you haven't had a chance to contribute to the Asian tsunami relief efforts, here's an easy excuse, as close as your remote control.

“Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope” airs live on the East Coast, meaning it will hit many NBC cable stations, such as USA, Bravo, Trio, Sci-Fi, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo and Pax, at 6 p.m. A tape-delayed version will air on local NBC affiliate KOB-4 at 7 p.m.

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