NBC announced Thursday that it will air a one-hour celebrity-studded telethon at 8 p.m. Friday to raise money for the American Red Cross relief efforts for Sandy victims. The network also invited its commercial-broadcast brethren to lay down their November “sweep” plans that night and join in carrying “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together.”
At press time, none of the other commercial broadcast networks had accepted the offer.
ABC, in fact, announced Sandy relief fundraising plans of its own, to air Monday.
Early Thursday evening, HBO announced it would join, canceling plans to rerun its Alfred Hitchcock/Tippi Hedren flick “The Girl,” as well as the most recent edition of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that night.
Don’t judge the other networks harshly. Perhaps they threw their minds back to 2005, when they thought that NBC had ambushed them with its announcement of a celebrity-studded telethon to raise Red Cross money for Hurricane Katrina victims — while the networks were ironing out plans for a joint celebrity-studded Katrina fundraising telethon.
Back then, like this week, NBC said its benefit would be carried by other NBC networks — this time including Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy and USA — and invited competitors to sign on.
And maybe NBC’s competitors were thinking that a disaster-relief fundraiser scheduled to air in the final days of a particularly close and nasty presidential race — and one that was going to have loads of celebrities (such as the always outspoken and usually profane Christina Aguilera) — was just a recipe for a sort of rerun of NBC’s Katrina fundraiser.
During the Katrina telethon, Kanye West — who’d been assigned to read some scripted material with Mike Myers about how the levees broke in New Orleans — suddenly changed the subject and announced that then-President George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” while Myers stood looking like a guy who’d stopped on the tracks to pick a flower and gotten hit in the back by the 5:15 Acela to Penn Station.
On the bright side, that moment wound up giving “Today” Supreme Co-host Matt Lauer — who’s hosting NBC’s Friday fundraiser, BTW — the most shared moment of his exclusive sit-down with Bush five years later, in which Bush said the all-time worst moment of his eight years in the White House was when West went off script during that fundraiser.
Back to Friday’s telethon: In addition to Aguilera, Bruce Springstreen, Billy Joel, Sting and Jon Bon Jovi are slated to perform, NBC said.
ABC parent Disney announced later Thursday that it would dedicate Monday’s ABC lineup as a “Day of Giving.”
“Good Morning America” will kick things off, dedicating its 8 a.m. hour to raising money for Sandy relief efforts, encouraging viewers to donate to the American Red Cross. After that, “Live With Kelly and Michael” will turn its Halloween episode — moved to Monday after Sandy hit this week — into a Halloween-cum-“Day of Giving” episode.
Then, The Ladies of “The View” will discuss the “Day of Giving” at their kitchen table and encourage viewers to donate — and so on and so forth through “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Disney noted that this plan comes on the heels of its announcement of a $2 million cash commitment — or about 61 / 2 “Modern Family” ads — to those severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.