Despite featuring some of Hollywood's biggest stars and being broadcast over 29 broadcast and cable networks, last Friday's multi-network telethon to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina failed to draw the droves of viewers expected.
The hourlong special averaged fewer than 24 million viewers Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, in contrast to the 59.3 million who watched the post-9-11 benefit, America: A Tribute to Heroes, or the 27.3 million who tune into American Idol on a weekly basis.
Networks said 38.3 million viewers watched at least part of Shelter from the Storm, compared to the 89 million who sampled some of America: A Tribute to Heroes.
Among the many celebs who appeared on the benefit special were Bruce Willis, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey, U2 and the Dixie Chicks.
Though a comparatively small number of people tuned in to the event, the cash poured in anyway. Preliminary estimates suggest that the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army collected around $30 million in donations. (That's compared to $150 million raised by the Tribute to Heroes event.)
"We are deeply grateful for the enormous generosity of television viewers who are supporting the vital work of our thousands of volunteers in the Katrina relief effort all across the country," American Red Cross Chairwoman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter said in a statement. "This catastrophic event has touched all of America--and indeed the world--and is proving that the generosity of the American spirit can do anything when we are united behind a single purpose."
Also on Friday, BET broadcast a telethon of its own, S.O.S (Saving Ourselves) featuring performances from Jay-Z , Wynton Marsalis, Erykah Badu, Ludacris, Usher and R. Kelly, among others.Complete news coverage, ways you can help, message boards, more
Approximately 1.2 million viewers tuned in for the three-hour event. No word on how much was raised in donations.
Last Saturday, MTV, VH1 and CMT aired still another benefit, ReAct Now: Music & Relief, featuring performances from Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, Neil Young, Usher and Aaron Neville, among others.
About 12 million viewers in total tuned in for the musical tribute to victims of the hurricane. No figures were available as to how much money was raised by the event.
In other hurricane relief efforts:
Dave Matthews Band raised over $1.5 million for hurricane relief through a Monday concert at Denver?s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, also featuring the Neville Brothers and the John Butler Trio. "We are deeply grateful to the Neville Brothers, John Butler Trio and to everyone who supported this effort, the band said in a statement. "We want to especially thank our fans for responding so generously to assist those affected by the hurricane." Morgan Freeman, Ray Romano, Whoopi Goldberg, Sela Ward, Jason Alexander and Kathie Lee Gifford are among the celebrities who have signed on to appear at the benefit concert "Mississippi Rising" at the University of Mississippi on Oct. 1. "I'm thrilled to be a part of Mississippi Rising as it will help raise much needed funds for the recovery efforts that lie ahead," Ward said in a statement. "Mississippi's gown may be torn and tattered, but she will prevail!" Coldplay released Fix You, a digital EP available through iTunes Music Store. The disc features two tracks previously unreleased in the U.S.--"Pour Me" and "The World Turned Upside Down"--as well as two versions of "Fix You," the band's latest single from X & Y. Martha Stewart is selling blue and red ponchos of her own design for $49.99 through her Website, www.marthastewart.com, with proceeds going to women and families in need, including victims of Hurricane Katrina. Naomi Campbell, Lindsay Lohan, Jay-Z, Cindy Crawford, Nicole Richie, Iman and others are set to participate in the "Fashion for Relief" benefit fashion show, which will close out New York's Fashion Week. Tickets will sell for $100 apiece, with proceeds going to AmeriCares. Sammy Hagar played an impromptu benefit concert for about 800 people at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico last Saturday, raising $20,000 in donations for AmeriCares. "To see the Cabo Wabo fill up with people wanting to do their part for the cause made this night very special," Hagar said in a statement. "I?ve played many nights here; this one will stand out. The important thing, though, is that we got to the magic number $20,000, not bad for a little bar in Cabo." Alt-rockers the dB's are offering a newly-recorded version of the Motown classic, "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" though their Website to benefit musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina. Two of the band's members were left homeless by the storm. Michael Jackson announced that he will be joined by a roster of high-profile musical types, including Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Wyclef Jean, Lenny Kravitz, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, James Brown, Snoop Dogg, Yolanda Adams, the O'Jays and Ciara to record the benefit single, "From the Bottom of My Heart." George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson and Martina McBride have signed on for an Oct. 1 benefit concert in Houston.