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American Idol will air a two-night charity benefit with Bono, Borat, and others

American Idol is launching Idol Gives Back, a two-night charity benefit to help kids in Africa and the United States. On April 24, the show’s sponsors will donate an unidentified amount of money for every vote cast for the top six contestants, while on April 25, the show will air what amounts to a benefit concert featuring Gwen Stefani, Pink, Josh Groban, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, and Annie Lennox. Also making appearances will be Bono and Borat.

Ryan Seacrest began his announcement by noting last night’s hour was the show’s 200th episode, and said “we want to give something back.” Alas, they’re not going to compensate us for all the time we’ve wasted watching those 200 episodes, but instead will raise money for charity. Specifically, he said they will be using “the power of the show to raise millions of dollars and bring the issues of extreme poverty, both in Africa and right here in America.”

Some of the charities who will be helped include “U.S. Fund for UNICEF; the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund; the Global Fight to Fund AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Save the Children; Nothing But Nets; and Malaria No More,” Variety reports.

Simon Cowell admitted that he’s become a rich bastard thanks to all of us, saying, “At the end of the day, all of us have made, have done very well out of this show, so I’m glad that we can do something back. It’s going to be a good cause.” The president of FOX’s parent News Corp. told Variety, “We felt it was a natural fit. For the past five seasons, viewers have fulfilled the dreams of the contestants. Now they have the chance to help us change the lives of children and young people in need and at risk, here in the U.S. as well as in Africa,” Peter Chernin said.

In a statement, Bono said, “This is a big deal. I wouldn’t underestimate the reach of this show or the impact its audience can have.” And the show’s executive producer, Simon Fuller, said, “…I am hoping that ‘Idol Gives Back’ is an enormous success, raising awareness and huge amounts of money for all these wonderfully deserving causes, and allowing us to continue to make these important, world-changing shows for many years to come.”

All season long, producers have been teasing that American Idol 6 would air “a big event show” that “will blow America away”. Starting Tuesday, Ryan Seacrest said he’d be announcing “one of the most important events in Idol history” Thursday, and he kept teasing “that special announcement” all night last night until he finally revealed the news.

Here’s an excerpt from Ryan’s description of the event, which took an entire segment of the results show to explain:

“Tonight is American Idol’s 200th episode. We want to take this opportunity to announce a very special project. You’ve turned American Idol from what many called a simple talent search into the most watched and most talked about television show in the world. And now, we want to give something back, under the banner ‘Idol Gives Back.’ We’re going to use the power of the 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. Now, Simon and I have already been to Africa. … The four of us are traveling to parts of America hit hardest by poverty, illiteracy, and natural disasters. …

On April 24 and 25, American Idol will showcase two unprecedented television events. On that Tuesday, we’ll be down to your top six. The theme will be inspirational songs. After the performance show, viewers will vote for their favorite contestants as usual. However, on this special night, viewers will also help change the lives of the truly needy children. For every vote cast, American Idol sponsors Coke and AT&T, along with a range of additional partners, will donate money to the charity. The Ford Motor Company will also contribute to the cause in connection with its weekly music video, details of which will be announced very soon.

During the Wednesday event, you at home will be able to make your own donations, if you wish, via toll-free lines or the Internet. And what a show it is going to be. Let me give you just a little taste of what’s going to happen. Quincy Jones is writing a special song for our top six. Very cool. Borat will be making a special appeal on American Idol. Randy has asked to wrestle him nude. Also participating, stars like Gwen Stefani, Pink, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Annie Lennox, and Bono has said we’ll see worlds collide when Africa appears on America’s most-watched television show. He’s also called it pop history.”

‘Idol’ opens its heart [Variety]

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