Stars unite to help Haiti in telethon

NEW YORK (AP) - Grim-faced celebrities and musicians with
mournful tunes set the tone for the all-star, international "Hope
for Haiti Now" telethon, which featured two hours of desperate
pleas for an even more-desperate nation. But it ended on a hopeful
note, with a buoyant call for Haiti's revival by native son, Wyclef
Jean.
"Enough of this moping man, let's rebuild Haiti, let's show 'em
how we do it where we come from!" Jean shouted after singing the
slow song "Rivers of Babylon," with a Haitian flag around his
neck.
He segued into the joyful tune "Yele" with an island beat, as
musicians danced around him, singing the refrain: "Earthquake, we
see the earth shake, but the soul of the Haitian people will never
break!"
It was a stark contrast from the opening of the telecast: no
words, simply photos of Haiti's tragic citizens as a backdrop, as
Alicia Keys called for the help of angels in somber tune.
"Can you send me an angel to guide me?" Keys sang from her
song "Prelude to a Kiss." There was no audience or applause,
allowing the moment to sink in for the millions expected to watch.
"The Haitian people need our help," said George Clooney, who
helped organize the two-hour telecast. "They need to know that
they are not alone. They need to know that we still care."
Then, after an impassioned plea from Halle Berry, Bruce
Springsteen dedicated a song for Haiti - "We Shall Overcome."
Since Haiti suffered the devastating earthquake on Jan. 12 that
killed more than 200,000 people, the entertainment world has
responded with an outpouring of charity, from million dollar
donations to songs designed to raise money for relief.
On Friday night, those efforts became collective as the biggest
celebrities from music, film, sports and even politics joined
together for the telethon. Stars like Mel Gibson, Reese Witherspoon
and Julia Roberts manned telephone lines while CNN's Anderson
Cooper gave reports about the situation from Haiti. Heartbreaking
video showed Haitians buried in rubble and badly injured, with
tears and overwhelming sorrow etched on their faces.
Although the celebrity phone bank appeared to be continuously
busy with donation calls, some of which were piped into the
telecast, it was not immediately known how much money was raised by
the show.
Most of the musical performances were downbeat, emotional songs.
John Legend sang "I Feel Like A Motherless Child." Kid Rock,
Keith Urban and Sheryl Crow sang "Lean On Me." Beyonce, with
Coldplay's Chris Martin backing her on piano, revised her hit
"Halo" with new lyrics: "Haiti we can see your halo, we pray you
won't fade away."
Madonna provided one of the few upbeat moments with her
choir-backed performance of "Like A Prayer," while Sting's
"Driven To Tears" was also spirited.
Jay-Z, Rihanna and U2's Bono and The Edge debuted a new song,
"Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)," as Jay-Z rapped from London: "When
the sky falls, and the earth quakes, we can gon' this back
together, we won't break."
Mickelson Civil, a Haitian filmmaker, fought back tears as he
talked about relatives who died and those who are barely surviving:
"The survivors shouldn't have to go hungry or be afraid now," he
said.
Jean made one of the more personal celebrity appeals of the
evening, speaking of his experience after witnessing the torment of
the nation first hand.
"I carried bodies of my people in the cemetery. They should
have been walking," he said. "Instead they were heavy in my arms.
... Right now we can see the second wave of the disaster coming ...
We have to make sure that the second wave never makes it to
Haiti."
Jean ended his comments with a message directly to the Haitian
people, in Creole. Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation is one of the
groups that will benefit from the evening's donations; Jean had
come under criticism for the spending practices of the foundation,
and before the telethon Friday announced a new accounting firm to
handle the group's finances after acknowledging past mistakes.
The telethon was broadcast from New York, London, Los Angeles
and Haiti, and was featured on all the major networks and channels.
It was also streamed live on sites like YouTube and MySpace.
Haitians were able to listen on Radio One Haiti.
Leonardo DiCaprio was among those celebrities who urged viewers
to donate; on Thursday, he joined the list of previous celebrities
donors with a $1 million gift to The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, one
of several organizations that will benefit from the telethon.
John Mayer called in a $500,000 donation before the telethon
began, according to a representative for MTV.
People were able to start donating even before the telethon at a
newly established Web site, and also through text or telephone.
Viewers will also be able to purchase performances from the evening
on Saturday by way of iTunes for 99 cents, with those proceeds
going to relief aid as well.
The telethon won't be the last major celebrity effort for Haiti;
BET plans to hold its own all-star telethon on Feb. 5, with Diddy
and Queen Latifah as hosts. It will also be aired on MTV and VH1.
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On the Net:
http://www.hopeforhaitinow.org

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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