'Idol' launching 'Idol Gives Back' African and American charity benefit
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/09/2007
For the first time ever, American Idol is going to be about more than just the music.
During last night's live results show that revealed the sixth season's Top 12 finalists, it was announced that Idol, Fox and Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF) have partnered for Idol Gives Back -- a special two-night event that will raise both awareness and funds for organizations that provide relief to children and young people living in poverty in Africa and America.
"You've turned American Idol from what many called a simple talent search into one of the most watched and talked about television shows in the world. And now, we want to give something back," said host Ryan Seacrest during last night's broadcast. "We're going to use the power of this show to raise millions of dollars and bring the issues of extreme poverty --both in Africa and right here in America -- into the hearts, minds and homes of us all."
On Tuesday, April 24 beginning at 8PM ET, the Top 6 finalists will perform songs considered to be "life anthems" about compassion and hope to keep with the Idol Gives Back theme. As usual with Idol, viewers will vote for their favorite contestants via toll-free numbers and text messages following the performance show.
However on this "special night," Idol sponsors Coca-Cola and AT&T -- along with a range of additional partners -- will donate money to charity for every vote cast. The Ford Motor Company will also contribute to the cause in connection with its weekly music video.
Then on Wednesday, April 25 beginning at 8PM ET, Fox will air a special two-hour live results show featuring numerous artists and celebrities, including Gwen Stefani, Josh Groban, Pink, Michael Buble, Annie Lennox, Il Divo, Borat Sagdiyev (an in-character Sacha Baron Cohen), and many others. Seacrest also said Quincy Jones is penning a "special song," which will be sung by the Top 6 finalists.
In addition to the performances, viewers will be able to make their own donations to Idol Gives Back via toll-free lines and the Internet. The money raised by the two shows will equally benefit the American and African causes.
Seacrest said he and Cowell recently took a trip to Africa. "We met some amazing young people who live in the most appalling of conditions," said Seacrest. "But with your help, we'll be able to give them a much brighter future." Added Cowell, "[Traveling to Africa] was something I'll never ever forget. Seeing some of the most appalling conditions I've ever seen in my life, and then we met some of the nicest people I've ever met. So mixed emotions, but I'm glad that we can do something to help these guys."
In Africa the money raised by Idol Gives Back will be dedicated to delivering health and education programs as well as be distributed via CPEF to a number of organizations, including the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, The Global Fund, Save the Children, Nothing but Nets and Malaria No More.
"We'll see worlds collide when Africa appears on America's most-watched TV show," said U2 lead singer Bono, who is also the co-founder of the One Campaign to Make Poverty History. "This is a big deal, a little bit of pop history ... I wouldn't underestimate the reach of this show or the impact its audience can have."
Seacrest, Cowell and Idol judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul also plan to travel to parts of America "hit hardest by poverty, illiteracy and natural disasters."
"I'm going to take Paula back to my proud home state of Louisiana that's still living with the aftermath of [2005's Hurricane] Katrina," said Jackson. "Lot of kids and families still having a lot of issues."
Money raised through Idol Gives Back will be distributed in America via CPEF to Save the Children and other organizations working to deliver programs to children living in extreme conditions in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Abdul said she is excited to be part of the project, which won't just take them to Louisiana.
"[We'll also travel] throughout the Mississippi basin... and hopefully [we can] put a smile back on all these kids' faces who haven't been able to smile in a long time," she said.
Cowell said he's proud just thinking of the impact Idol Gives Back will have.
"At the end of the day, all of us have done very well out of this show, so I'm glad that we can do something back to a bigger cause," he said.