By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 16, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 15 -- The hit-making record producer Pharrell Williams, the wizard behind the beats of everybody from Ludacris to Britney, promises it will be "the biggest party on Earth." How big?
At the news conference Thursday announcing this summer's ambitious "Live Earth" concerts -- designed as an exercise in "mass persuasion" about threats of global warming -- Al Gore described his vision: a 24-hour musical extravaganza across seven continents, featuring as many as 150 of the world's top recording artists, introduced by an army of "celebrities and thought leaders" (think: Cameron Diaz and Richard Branson), playing before a total live audience of a million people, and reaching 2 billion more via television, radio and the Internet on July 7.
The foreign cities hosting the stadium-size concerts will be Shanghai, Sydney, Johannesburg, London, Rio and Kyoto, Japan. In the United States, two cities -- New York and Washington -- are vying to be the chosen venue. Gore revealed that some lucky entertainer (perhaps Lenny Kravitz? Snow Patrol?) will be performing in Antarctica, where temperatures in July at the South Pole Station average minus-56 degrees Fahrenheit.
The former vice president confirmed that while he was schmoozing at Sunday's Grammy Awards, where he was a presenter, the Black Eyed Peas agreed to record a new song to promote the cause and perform at one of the concerts. Also off camera at the Grammys, members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers whispered to Gore: "We're in." The approximately two dozen artists confirmed today include Snow Patrol, Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, Enrique Iglesias, Kravitz, Sheryl Crow and Snoop Dogg [for a full list, see box].
At the news conference at the California Science Center (it's a museum), against a slightly overproduced backdrop emblazoned with the Live Earth theme, "Save Our Selves," the band Maná bilingually pledged its support and encouraged "everyone, everywhere" to check out Gore's Oscar-nominated documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Proceeds from the globalized concerts will go to Gore's new environmental foundation, called the Alliance for Climate Protection.
Diaz was also on hand. "As Al said," Diaz said, there are things everyone can do to reduce the magnitude of climate change. Asked what she did, Diaz mentioned driving a hybrid Prius, using recycled products and pursuing "carbon-neutral travel." Saving the planet is doable, she pointed out: "We don't have to build some giant machine that goes up in the air and sucks all the carbon into outer space."
Kevin Wall, the concert producer who has handled the Madonna tours and the Live8 concerts to fight global poverty, promised that the biggest bands on Earth are rearranging their schedules to appear at the Live Earth events. The list of venues, artists and ticket sales will be finalized in March, he said, and in addition to the America-centric stars, each city would also present its own national favorites.
Wall is gunning for saturation coverage. The concerts will be streamed by MSN, the Microsoft Internet portal, and broadcast by NBC. The satellite radio groups Sirius and XM will feature the shows. Similar arrangements are being made in the other six nations. And at the center of it all? "Two billion sets of eyeballs," Wall said, "and we'll hand the mike to Al Gore."
Asked yet again if he's running for president ("no"), the former veep was quizzed about lingering skeptics of global warming. Gore sighed, and then joked that the doubters must get together on Saturday nights with the folks who believe the moon landings were staged in the Arizona desert. Said Gore, "I'm running out of things to say to them."