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'Idol Gives Back' hopes to raise more than $100 million for charity


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/08/2008 

American Idol raised more than $76 million via last April's Idol Gives Back charity event, and this year the goal is apparently even more lofty.

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"We're going to make over $100 million this year. I can feel it," Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told the audience at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre during a Sunday taping for this week's Idol Gives Back special, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday beginning at 7:30PM ET/PT, Fox will air it's second-annual Idol Gives Back concert and fund-raising event to benefit various U.S. and international charities.

While last year's charity concert aired live from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA, this year's benefit concert at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre taped Sunday and will not air live. Among those who performed at the concert were Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, and Idol fourth-season winner Carrie Underwood. 

In addition, Mariah Carey also performed during the concert with Idol judge Randy Jackson.

"A lot of people said it was a very over the top performance, but I actually thought he was good," joked fellow judge Simon Cowell during Monday's Larry King Live broadcast.

Bono, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Fergie, Chris Daughtry, Annie Lennox, John Legend, Fantasia Barrino, Elliott Yamin, Robin Williams, Celine Dion, Forest Whitaker, Billy Crystal, Dane Cook, Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Connolly, will also participate in Idol Gives Back, along with the seventh-season's Top 8 finalists.

Organizations that will benefit from the Idol Gives Back's fund-raising efforts are the Children's Defense Fund; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Make It Right; Malaria No More, Save the Children; and the Children's Health Fund.

"We've made a point that a lot of the money had to go to American charities," explained Cowell during the Larry King Live appearance.  "It's not fair to ask people who have supported our show to see all the money go overseas. So a lot of kids' charities, a lot of overseas aid. But all the charities involved, they were chosen, apart from the work they do, that they administer the money properly. So anyone who phones and makes a pledge rests assured that the money is properly delivered."

Prior to last year's Idol Gives Back event, Cowell and Idol host Ryan Seacrest traveled to Africa and saw firsthand who and how the fundraiser helps.

"We have, as we said earlier, a lot of problems here in the States. But when were in Africa and we saw those kids -- the spirit that they have -- they don't realize how bad they have it," said Seacrest on Larry King Live.  "And so that was interesting to us. They have this amazing spirit and this hope and these smiles and they show up and they're excited at this little school. And so, I think, the idea is to try and share everything across the globe."

In addition to raising funds, Paula Abdul said Idol Gives Back also raises an unthinkable amount of awareness about social problems.

"It's also still about the awareness, because I think people think when do you a charity and you raise money, the problem goes away," said Jackson on Larry King Live.  "This problem will continue. Poverty is still grave even in America, even in L.A."

Seacrest reiterated Lythgoe's statement that the goal is to "try and get close, if not beat" last year's $76 million total.  To help ensure that happens, Seacrest and the three Idol judges all pledged their Wednesday night paychecks to Idol Gives Back.

"We're all going to give back what we would make on that night, you know, for doing that regular episode," said Seacrest on Larry King Live.  "So, it's something that, you know, I think when you stand up there or you sit there on the show and you're talking about what's happening and you're asking for other people to give, then you should do something that's relative to what your life is about."

Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made personal pleas for viewers to support Idol Gives Back via video messages on Sunday.  Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is expected to send in a videotape for Wednesday's broadcast, according to Reuters.


(Photo credit Fox)


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