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'Idol Gives Back' raises over $60 million, still accepting donations


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/27/2007 

American Idol gave back in a big way this week.

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Fox announced its Idol Gives Back two-night charity event raised "over $60 million" through a combination of corporate and viewer donations, and the funds will now be used to benefit programs and organizations that provide relief for young people living in poverty in both Africa and America.

News Corporation (Fox's parent company) donated 10-cents for every one of the first 50 million votes cast following Tuesday night's performances featuring the Top 6 Idol sixth season finalists.  With "over 70 million" votes cast by viewers, News Corp. contributed a total of $5 million, and Allstate and ExxonMobil also matched the contribution.

Ford, Coca-Cola, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ConAgra Foods and AT&T also made corporate contributions, but according to a Friday report by Reuters, Coca-Cola and Ford -- citing "business confidentiality" -- declined to comment on exactly how much they donated.   Ford added its donation was based on Internet downloads of its Idol music videos, according to Reuters.

During Idol Gives Back's special two-hour live results show on Wednesday night, viewers pledged contributions via a toll-free number and Idol's website.  In addition, comedian Ellen DeGeneres -- who hosted a portion of the Idol Gives Back special from Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall --  made a personal donation of $100,000.  Idol judge Simon Cowell also reportedly made a "significant six figure donation."

Funds raised through Idol Gives Back will be donated to Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF), a new charitable organization established to raise money and awareness to help combat extreme poverty in America and throughout the world, particularly in Africa. 

In Africa, funds will be dedicated to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; Malaria No More; Nothing But Nets; Save the Children; and The U.S. Fund for UNICEF.  In America, CPEF selected Save the Children; America's Second Harvest The Nation's Food Bank Network; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; and Children's Health Fund as beneficiaries of Idol Gives Back.

"They took a risk by using their show to raise issues of poverty and asking people to contribute, and that is a huge accomplishment," Mark Shriver, vice president of U.S. programs for Save the Children, told Reuters.  "The American Idol format is hugely successful and they introduced starving, dying children in Africa and children struggling with poverty in the United States, and brought that to prime time television."

While more than 40 celebrities and musical acts made appearances during Wednesday night's Idol Gives Back special, several that had been previously announced as on-board were noticeably absent, including Pink, Gwen Stefani and Michael Buble.  Fox announced Thursday some of the guests had to pull out from the live portion of the event, and prerecorded pieces by others were cut for "reasons of time" and will air in upcoming in Idol broadcasts, according to Reuters.

American Idol's six remaining sixth season finalists -- Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Lakisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Chri Richardson and Jordin Sparks -- will all perform live on Tuesday, May 1 beginning at 8PM ET on Fox and will be mentored by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.  In addition, next week's voting window will mirror that of Idol Gives Back, expanding from two hours to four.  Then on Wednesday, May 2 at 9PM ET Bon Jovi will perform and the field of finalists will be narrowed to four, as the Idol Gives Back votes will be combined with next week's and the bottom-two will be eliminated.

Idol Gives Back will continue to accept donations through Thursday, May 31 via Idol's website and a toll-free number.

(Photo credit )


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