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NEW YORK (AP) – With no words, simply photos of Haiti’s desperate citizens as a backdrop, the all-star, international “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon began on Friday night, as Alicia Keys called for the help of angels in somber song.
“Can you send me an angel to guide me?” Keys sang in the evening’s first performance, 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 worldwide.
“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, those efforts became collective as the biggest celebrities from music, film, sports and even politics joined together for the telethon. Stars like Mel Gibson and Reese Witherspoon manned telephone lines while CNN’s Anderson Cooper gave reports from Haiti.
The show was broadcast from New York, London, Los Angeles and Haiti, and was to include musical performances by a variety of superstars, including Beyonce, Madonna, Taylor Swift, U2’s Bono and the Edge, Keith Urban and more. The telethon was featured on all the major networks and channels such as MTV, BET, Bravo, PBS, Fuse, CNN, and more than a dozen others. It was also streamed live on sites like YouTube and MySpace.
Haitians will be able to listen on Radio One Haiti, according to MTV.
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.
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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