The cha-ching you're hearing is the sound of America standing up to cancer, and not just because master of the Hollywood universe George Clooney told them to. (Though his encouragement probably didn't hurt.)
Two years after the first Stand Up to Cancer telethon helped raise $100 million for cancer research, a second installment aired live tonight from Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif., this one equally lousy with Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winners—and yet also including seemingly twice as many celebrity survivors.
"Cancer doesn't care how may Oscars you've won, or how many tough guys you've played," Michael Douglas, who is battling stage-4 throat cancer, said in a pretaped message, part of the "cancer doesn't care" intro featuring past and current cancer patients Michael C. Hall, Christina Applegate, Maura Tierney, Lance Armstrong, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Fran Drescher, Kylie Minogue and Survivor's Ethan Zohn.
While celebs ranging from Ray Liotta, Ryan Seacrest and Rob Lowe to Thomas Jane, Emily Deschanel and Vanessa Hudgens answered phones and recorded donations, an endless parade of actors, such as Tobey Maguire, Sally Field and Denzel Washington, gave solemn yet inspirational testimonials and musicians broke out their most heart-tugging hits.
Among the highlights:
• Current country darlings Lady Antebellum pairing with living legend Kris Kristofferson on their hit "I Run to You" and his "Help Me Make It Through the Night."
• Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, accompanied by fellow recent Emmy winner Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory, encouraging everyone to "wang lung tonight" because, he says, the producers told him to "make it funny."
• Getting to see Billy Joe Armstrong perform ("Wake Me Up When September Ends") for a change instead of having to watch the same scene of American Idiot over again. That cast is everywhere!
• Kim Jeong, naked in The Hangover and clad in a bathrobe tonight, saying he's always happy to disrobe for his dermatologist...for regular mole checks, that is! (Jeong's wife is also a cancer survivor.)
• Stevie Wonder paying tribute to his first wife, who died of breast cancer, before joining Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, the Edge, Dave Stewart, Martina McBride and Aaron Neville for "Unchained Melody." A screen showed a a montage of golden-era movie stars who died of cancer, from Humphrey Bogart to Audrey Hepburn, and the performance was dedicated to Patrick Swayze, whose widow, Lisa Niemi, appeared and recalled her husband speaking at the first Stand Up to Cancer just two years ago.
• Lots of time being paid to honor doctors, scientists and previously anonymous cancer patients, the ones who are actually fighting the disease on the front lines.
Network news anchors Katie Couric, who lost her husband and sister to colon and pancreatic cancer, respectively, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams presided over the show, which aired live on a multitude of broadcast and cable networks and streamed on multiple sites, including E! Online.
Check out the massive celebrity presence at tonight's Stand Up to Cancer Telethon.