Hollywood showed up and showed out for Tuesday night’s “Hand in Hand” Telethon. The star-studded hurricane relief benefit raised more than $44 million for the victims of Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma.
During the telethon, Stephen Colbert announced that Apple was donating $5 million and Jimmy Fallon added that Albertsons Cos. and Merck each gave $1 million.
NBA star Chris Paul also said that the NBA Players Association, which donated $500,000, would match any professional basketball player’s donation up to $20,000.
And while the dollars were big, so was the star power. From Oprah, to Bruce Willis to Justin Timberlake, A-listers came out in droves.
“We come together today to love on people that have been devastated by the hurricanes,” Stevie Wonder, who sang “Lean on Me,” said at the start of the telethon. “When love goes into action, it preferences no color of skin, no ethnicity, no religious beliefs, no sexual preferences, and no political persuasions. It just loves.”
Throughout the hour-long benefit, which streamed online and was broadcast on ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS, celebrities stressed the importance of unity. However, the current politic climate was referenced at several points. In video addresses, Drake admitted that that news cycle recently has been “extremely overwhelming,” while Beyonce noted that, “it’s impossible to watch the news without seeing violence or racism in this country.”
The telethon was also punctuated by stars including Kerry Washington, Sean “Diddy” Combs; Winfrey and Cher; and Justin Timberlake telling stories of those who were directly impacted by the hurricanes, as well as performances in locations around the country. In Nashville, Usher and Blake Shelton sang “Stand By Me,” while George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett sang “Texas” and “I Believe” from San Antonio. Other performances included Luis Fonsi and Tori Kelly singing “Hallelujah,” Brad Paisley, Demi Lovato, Darius Rucker, Cece Winans performing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” and Dave Matthews singing “Mercy.”
Also answering phones during the telethon: Justin Bieber, George Clooney, Julianne Moore, Bruce Willis, Sofia Vergara, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, among others.
Billy Crystal closed the telethon thanking everyone at all the call centers, and reminding people that the phone lines and donation centers will be open all night. He concluded, “This is what America is really all about.”
“Hand in Hand” was produced by Scooter Braun and Bun B. Originally, it was meant to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. It was later expanded to include those affected by Irma.
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