During tonight’s live broadcast of “American Idol,” it was announced that Fox, “American Idol” and the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF) have partnered on an historic television event – “Idol Gives Back” a two-night special raising awareness and funds for organizations that provide relief programs to help children and young people in extreme poverty in America and Africa.
The “American Idol” performance show airs Tuesday, April 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) and the expanded results show airs Wednesday, April 25 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on Fox.
On Tuesday, April 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), the Top 6 finalists will sing songs that can be considered “Life Anthems.” In keeping with the “Idol Gives Back” theme, all the songs performed will be about compassion and hope. After the performance show, viewers will vote for their favorite contestants via toll-free numbers and text messages, as usual. On this special night, however, viewers will also help change the lives of the truly needy. For every vote cast, “American Idol” sponsors Coca-Cola 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 soon.
The special two-hour results show on Wednesday, April 25 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) will be a star-studded evening featuring world-renowned artists and celebrities, including Gwen Stefani, Josh Groban, Pink, Michael Bublé, Annie Lennox, Il Divo and popular Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) among many others who will take the “American Idol” stage.
During the Wednesday event, adding to the corporate contributions, viewers will be able to make their own donations via toll-free lines and the Internet.
The money raised by the two shows will equally benefit the U.S. and Africa. In the U.S., the money will be distributed via CPEF to Save the Children and other U.S. organizations working to deliver programs to children living in extreme conditions in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. To find out more about poverty here in America, please visit SavetheChildren.org.
In Africa, the money will be dedicated to delivering health and education programs and will be distributed via CPEF to a number of organizations, including U.S. Fund for UNICEF, The Global Fund, Save the Children, Nothing but Nets and Malaria No More. For viewers interested in learning more about how to get involved in efforts to fight AIDS and extreme poverty around the world, “Idol Gives Back” is also providing a link on its website to ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History.
“Richard Curtis is a remarkable man and the Red Nose Day charity on BBC TV is an amazing humanitarian effort. Richard approached me a couple of years ago and asked how we could work together to launch a major new televised charity initiative in the U.S. following on from the $820 million that he has raised in the UK with Red Nose Day, stated Simon Fuller, creator and executive producer of “American Idol.” “After lengthy discussions it occurred to me that we should use ‘American Idol’ as an existing platform to premiere this idea. Thanks to the huge support of Fox and the enthusiasm and energy of Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Simon, Ryan, Paula and Randy, it has finally become a reality. Red Nose Day is an extraordinary institution and 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.”
“When we were approached by Richard Curtis, Simon Fuller, Simon Cowell and CPEF about this project, we felt it was a natural fit,” said Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer, News Corporation. “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.”
“We are thrilled to have this unique opportunity to work with ‘American Idol’ to bring the issue of extreme poverty in Africa and in America into the hearts, minds and homes of millions of Americans,” said Richard Curtis, co-founder of the UK’s Red Nose Day charity and renowned writer/director of such films as Love Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Curtis was a founding member of the Make Poverty History coalition and worked throughout 2004 and 2005 on the campaign and “Live 8” with Bono and Bob Geldof.
U2’s Bono, co-founder of the One Campaign to Make Poverty History, said, “We’ll see worlds collide when Africa appears on America’s most-watched TV show. 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.”
“The ‘Idol Gives Back’ premiere provides an excellent opportunity for ‘American Idol’ viewers to engage with the issues of poverty and health in Africa. People all across Africa are fighting back against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and there is optimism and hope everywhere. ‘American Idol’ viewers will be able to learn more about these successes and contribute directly to them. It is a wonderfully exciting opportunity, and I thank Richard Curtis, Simon Fuller, Peter Chernin and the many others who are launching ‘Idol Gives Back,'” said Sir Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund.
“Using the power of the world’s most popular television event, ‘American Idol,’ to benefit millions of needy children around the globe, is a remarkable and extraordinary achievement. On behalf of 25 million children in Save the Children’s programs worldwide, we are all deeply excited and appreciative,” said Bill Haber, board trustee of Save the Children.
“‘American Idol’ has given so much to this network and we don’t take that for granted,” said Peter Liguori, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company. “To quote a famous superhero, ‘with the gift of power comes great responsibility,’ which is why we feel so fortunate to partner in this special television event, giving back.”
Executive Producers Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick and Cecile Frot-Coutaz added: “This is going to be a television event unlike any other. We are planning two nights of amazing, star-studded entertainment, and we’re using the power of ‘American Idol’ to raise needed awareness and funds. Our fans can give directly if they want, but they can also impact the lives of people in this country and in Africa just by voting as they do every week. It’s that easy and it’s that important.”
Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest traveled to Africa and personally witnessed the poverty and disease there, as well as the extensive programs that are underway to fight them.
“Having witnessed some of the appalling conditions in Africa firsthand, I’m especially proud that our show is offering Americans the chance to help those most in need,” said Cowell. “Ensuring that American charities will equally benefit from these efforts was one of my priorities, and I’d like to thank our sponsors for their support and generosity in making this possible.”
Seacrest added: “I thought I was prepared for what I would see in Africa, but the level of poverty was beyond anything I could have imagined. You see it, you smell it, you taste it. However, despite the extreme conditions, you feel an incredible sense of hope from the people … especially the children.”
Additionally, Cowell and Seacrest will be joined by Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, visiting areas such as Kentucky and parts of Mississippi and Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Although it has been over a year since the hurricane hit, many people’s lives are still in turmoil despite the efforts being made.
“Children and children’s charities have always played such an important part of my life and career,” said Abdul. “I am extremely excited to be a part of this new project, which I believe can truly make a difference. Visiting the sites of these tragedies will certainly bring a renewed awareness to these children’s plight and I look forward to meeting so many of them in the coming weeks.”
Jackson added: “I’m so happy and proud that we are part of trying to get all of America back on its feet and tend to the problems here at home, in addition to those abroad. I grew up in the proud state of Louisiana and it breaks my heart every time I think about the devastation to both Mississippi and Louisiana. I’m looking forward to taking part in making a difference and helping to create awareness for the devastated areas.”
These trips will be highlighted in the specials, demonstrating what can be achieved by communities working together and how even small donations can make a life-changing difference.
A website for teachers and students created by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, will be available at Scholastic.com/IdolGivesBack. It was designed to inspire students about the importance of global citizenship. The tools provided will help young people understand how they can take action in small and big ways to help make the world a better place for everyone.