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Hope for Haiti Now Telethon


January 22, 2010

George Clooney

George Clooney, the actor and organizer of the telethon, left, being interviewed by MTV right after the telethon

By Carter B. Horsley

The Hope for Haiti Now two-hour telethon on January 22, 2010 began as television's finest philanthropic event with many magnificent performances, very poignant mini-documentaries, and extremely elegant direction. It was marred only by the last few performances that were below par and uninspired.

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewing young girl who had spent the previous eight days buried in the rumble caused by the Haiti earthquake

The telethon was organized by George Clooney who brought along most of Hollywood's biggest stars such as Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman to make fine pitches for donations at trying to cope with the disastrous conditions in Haiti which was struck by a 7.0 earthquake this month that devastated Port-au-Prince. Anderson Cooper of CNN broadcast live from Port-Au-Prince interviewing some individuals who had been rescued after 8 days beneath the rubble. The phones were manned by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson and Stevie Wonder.

Mr. Clooney hopefully will be considered a candidate for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon

Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon making appeal on telethon

The outstanding and extremely memorable performances were by John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, Christine Aguilera, Beyoncé, and Justin Timberlake, Sting, Madonna, and Jennifer Hudson also contributed fine sets.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks making appeal on telethon

Preliminary figures indicated that the telethon raised $58 million.


Madonna performing on telethon

The review in The New York Times of the telethon January 23, 2009 by Alessandra Stanley missed the point entirely, describing the event as "a study in carefully muted star power" and adding that "more than 100 of the most famous actors and music stars in the world went on stage pretending to be nobody." "At times," she continued, "the telethon was perhaps a little too self-consciously low-key and somber. At the end of the night, even the Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean broke off his own mournful ode to his homeland and said, 'Enough of this moping man, let's rebuild Haiti,' and he and his band began rocking out." Wyclef Jean, unfortunately, tied with Jay-Z for being the least talented and most self-centered of the entertainers, and both, sadly, came at the end, marring an otherwise extremely moving television event that was historic for not bothering with an audience and for not pandering to the lowest common denominator of pedestrian quality.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg answering phones on telethon


Sting performing on telethon

Sting sang "Driven To Tears" from the 1980 Police album "Zenyatta Mondatta."

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder answering phones on telethon

Stevie Wonder sang "A Time to Love"/"Bridge Over Troubled Water." "A Time to Love" was the title track to a 2005 album by Stevie Wonder. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is the title track to the 1970 album by Simon & Garfunkel.

The best other performances were: Bruce Springsteen sang "We Shall Overcome," whose lyrics were derived from a hymn written by the Rev. Charles Albert Tindley. John Legend sang "Motherless Child." Christina Aguilera sang "Lift Me Up," written by her collaborator, Linda Perry, who accompanied her on piano. Beyoncé sang "Halo," from her 2009 album and was accompanied on piano by Chris Martin of Coldplay and she changed its lyrics to include "Haiti, we can see your halo, I pray you won't fade away." Justin Timberlake sang Leonard Cohen's 1980 song, "Hallelujah," and was accompanied by Matt Morris on guitar and vocals. Jennifer Hudson sang Paul McCartney's 1969 song, "Let It Be."

Other good performances were by Mary J Blige, Shakira, Taylor Swift and Sheryl Crow with Kid Rock and Keith Urban.

Several performances were bad and ill-conceived: Jay-Z with U2's Bono and The Edge (featuring Rihanna) sang "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)." Dave Matthews and Neil Young sang Hank Williams's song "Alone & Forsaken." Wyclef Jean sang "Rivers of Babylon," which had been written by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Melodians in 1972 and was part of the soundtrack of the movie, The Harder They Fall" and "Yéle."

The preliminary figure is a record for donations made by the public through a disaster relief telethon, according to a news release from telethon organizers.Additionally, the "Hope for Haiti Now" album, a compilation of the night's musical performances made available on Apple's iTunes. People will be able to make donations to "Hope for Haiti" via phone, Web, text messaging and regular mail for the next six months, according to the news release. Proceeds will be split between Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, Unicef and the Yéle Haiti Foundatin and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

The telethon was carried live on many channels and even with the very few disappointing performances it was one of the most dignified and inspiring events in television history.

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