NBC to air telethon to help Red Cross’s Sandy relief efforts


Bruce Springsteen will perform on NBC’s telethon Friday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
November 1, 2012

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.

On Thursday evening, HBO announced it would join the networks of NBC Universal in presenting “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,”

NBC also invited its commercial-broadcast brethren to lay down their November “sweep” plans that night and join in carrying “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” but 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.

Don’t judge the other broadcasters 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 Springsteen, 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.

‘Kimmel’ ratings record

David Letterman’s visit with his No. 1 fan, Jimmy Kimmel, churned up the biggest Wednesday audience for ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in that show’s 10-year history: about 2.4 million viewers.

“I’m more excited than I’m able to explain,” Kimmel gushed as he introduced Letterman to his studio audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Kimmel, who usually tapes his show in Hollywood, had headed to Brooklyn for a week, only to have to pull the plug on Monday’s show because of Hurricane Sandy.

Tuesday’s show went off as planned. Ditto Wednesday’s show with Letterman, which will go down as one of the most torrid bromance scenes in TV history.

“I’m a little bit overwhelmed,” Kimmel said demurely when Letterman took the guest chair, noting that it was maybe similar to when Johnny Carson visited Letterman on his show.

Letterman said the big difference was that “Johnny Carson was something . . . and I’m not much of anything.”

Kimmel pshawed, then showed Letterman photos of Young Kimmel with a “Late Night With David Letterman” birthday cake and a “Late Night” license plate on his car.

Very creepy.

“This is serious for me. This could make me or break me tonight. . . . I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable,” Kimmel said.

Very, very creepy.

“I’m more concerned for you — did your parents step in? These are warning signs, Jimmy,” Letterman quipped.

Then, surprisingly, Letterman began to fawn over Kimmel:

“In show business, one of the precepts is that you’re not supposed to be really nice to people — especially if you have the same occupation as the other person.

“Jimmy has broken that precept and been nothing but generous and courteous and kind to me and my entire crew,” Letterman said.

“I’ll be honest with you. At first I thought, ‘Why is he sucking up to me?’ Then, I was persuaded there was some measure of stability here, and I realized it was genuine.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog.

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