The TV Column in the Sept. 10 Style section reported that profanity and a racial slur "got bleeped" during a live televised performance by Kanye West at a benefit concert for the Gulf Coast. In a news conference before the broadcast, producer Joel Gallen said a several-second delay would be used to bleep obscenities from the production. When the telethon was broadcast, there were several gaps in West's performance of his song "Jesus Walks" that corresponded to portions of the lyrics that contained obscenities and a racial slur. The Post has been unable to substantiate whether the obscenities and racial slur were removed during the broadcast or whether West removed them himself by pausing, creating the gaps, during those portions of the song. The producer says that he did not bleep words in the song and that West removed the words himself; calls to West's representatives have not been returned. (Published 10/1/2005)
"George Bush hates midgets!" Chris Rock quipped last night during "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast."
The rest of the political commentary was more subtle during the one-hour celeb-studded appeal for hurricane relief, telecast across all of the broadcast networks and a slew of cable nets.
Rock's crack was a reference to Kanye West's comment that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," made when the rapper went seriously off-script during the "NBC: We Are the World" Hurricane Katrina telethon that Some of the Networks of NBC aired a week ago.
"We've all heard the question: 'Why didn't those people just leave when they had the chance?' " Rock said last night, ever so much more coherently, cynically and, apparently, on script.
"But now, we all realize, not everyone can jump in their SUVs and go check into a nice hotel.
"Those people depend on public transportation and those people can't afford a nice hotel because some of them work there."
He continued: "Well, now's the time for you to do something for them. Do it for the children who've been left behind without parents. For the sick that have been left without medicine. And for the families that have been left without a place in the world to call home. . . . Do what you can because it's the right thing to do."
A day earlier, in a phone call with the Reporters Who Cover Television, telethon producer Joe Gallen promised that the dozens of celebs participating would not be bleeped during the live prime-time telecast if they made political comments. But then, he said, he didn't expect them to make any.
"I think people know that politicizing will certainly not be a smart thing to do as far as inspiring people who want to call in and rally around this cause, which all of us in America are doing, not just the entertainment industry," Gallen said.
"If anybody has those kinds of feelings or are tempted to do it, I believe that's where they are going to channel their feelings, to inspire people to donate and leave the politicizing at home."
The brief, 30-second delay in the telecast would be used only to bleep obscenities, Gallen assured the reporters.
"I have spoken to everyone on the bill, including Kanye. . . . Everyone knows the best way to help is to sing their song, which is reflecting their feelings, or inspiring people to call."
Still, some performers managed to sing a few points while soliciting funds for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Randy Newman, for instance, kicked things off with his song "Louisiana 1927," chronicling the great flood of 1927, in which, according to various reference sources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assured the public that the levees would hold, only they failed. Sound familiar? More than 500 died; more than 700,000 were displaced; the Red Cross supervised 154 relief camps, housing and feeding more than 325,000 refugees.
President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note pad in his hand
The President say, "Little fat man, isn't it a shame what the river has done
"To this poor crackers land."
They're tryin' to wash us away.
ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, WB, UPN and PBS all agreed to run the telethon at the same time, along with nearly 40 cable channels, radio stations and several Web sites. The special also was seen in more than 140 countries.
West tried to send a musical message last night, adapting his "Jesus Walks" with lyrics about how he would feel if he were left homeless and at the Superdome. But, honestly, so much of the song got bleeped because of the use of profanity and the repeated use of a racial slur, it was a garbled mess.
Yesterday morning, on Ellen DeGeneres's syndicated show, West said that during NBC's telethon he had warned Mike Myers, with whom he shared the stage, "I'm going to ad-lib a little bit," and told comedian Chris Tucker, who was to follow them, "Get ready for live TV."
"So I just went up there and I just wanted to bullet-point these things that disturbed me so much. I already had a problem with the media and press because they always have this five-second delay or this 30-day print, warp your words, paraphrase you, misquote you type thing that they do."
He explained that he's been "brutally honest" since he was a little kid.
"I think I was made to do this. . . . A lot of people, the fear gets in the way of their dream, fear gets in the way of what they need to do. In the situation I'm in, you have everything to lose -- you can lose endorsements, you can lose this, you can lose that," said West, who we're just guessing here is probably worth a gazillion dollars and could live comfortably for the rest of his life even without those endorsements, the "this" and the "that."
"And I said there's a whole lot more I could have lost. How about if I could have drowned? How about if I couldn't eat for five days? The least I could do was to go up there and say something from my heart that was real."
Also performing last night were U2 with Mary J. Blige singing "One," Foo Fighters singing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on a Bayou," Sheryl Crow with the haunting "Water Is Wide" and Dr. John, finishing the night with "Walkin' to New Orleans." Also lending their talents to the cause were Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, the Dixie Chicks, back-from-retirement Garth Brooks and Rod Stewart, among others.
Neil Young sang "When God Made Me":
Did he give me the gift of voice
So some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
Not knowing what I might see?
Did he give me the gift of compassion
To help my fellow man?
When God made me.
Nonmusical celebs chatted of this and that in between numbers. Jennifer Aniston talked about the suffering of the babies in New Orleans, which was really mean to ask her to do, what with her husband having left her for Angelina Jolie, who keeps taking in orphans while Aniston is childless and denying those rumors that's one of the reasons she and Brad Pitt split.
In marked contrast to the sexy gear they usually wear in public, Aniston, Julia Roberts, Sela Ward and many of the other female participants all wore humble sweaters during the telethon. Mariah Carey, on the other hand, wore a tight pink T-shirt, but wore humble pants instead of her usual micro-miniskirt.
Jack Nicholson was the brightest star in the telephone-answering firmament, seen at one point singing "Maria" from "West Side Story" to a caller from Atlanta, who we hope gave a lot of money in return for getting personally serenaded by Jack. We certainly would.
"Shelter From the Storm."Randy Newman mixes history with -- what else? -- political commentary during last night's concert.