Broadcasters eye 2 billion for Live Earth

Tue Jul 3, 2007 7:11pm EDT

1 of 3. Al Gore (R) listens as Live Earth founder Kevin Wall speaks in an interview in New York, June 28, 2007. International broadcasters, environmental activists and some of the biggest names in pop music are in the starting blocks for one of the most ambitious global media events of all time.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Zelevansky

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LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - International broadcasters, environmental activists and some of the biggest names in pop music are in the starting blocks for one of the most ambitious global media events of all time.

On Saturday, more than 150 acts -- including such marquee names as Madonna, the Police, Bon Jovi and Black Eyed Peas -- will perform at the Live Earth series of benefit concerts in support of a greener planet.

The event, organized by Kevin Wall and Harvey Goldsmith -- the producers behind Bob Geldof's 2005 anti-poverty event, Live 8 -- is looking to reach 2 billion people in more than 120 countries worldwide.

The concerts will be held in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Hamburg, Germany. Inuit band Nunatak will even play a concert direct from Antarctica.

Some of the world's biggest broadcasters are on board to carry the concerts live, including NBC Universal TV and Internet brands in the U.S., the BBC in Britain, NHK and Fuji TV in Japan and Pro7 in Germany. But while media attention is growing in such countries as the U.S. and the U.K., Live Earth has virtually no media footprint in nations including China or Turkey, where environmental issues are less front-and-center.

David Li, a tech-savvy 24-year-old working for a global computer manufacturer in Shanghai, said he heard about Live Earth but was unaware of the local riverside concert featuring some of the biggest names in Chinese pop.

"I definitely was not expecting it to be in a place like Shanghai, the pollution capital of the world," Li said. "Global warming is a controversial topic in China, and the biggest challenge is to convince people that the benefit outweighs economic sacrifices."

In Turkey, a planned Live Earth concert in Istanbul was canceled at the last minute because of lack of support from the government and tepid interest from sponsors, organizers said.

Not so in Britain, where the participation of the BBC should ensure maximum viewing and listening impact from the Beeb's global network. Live coverage from the British concert is lined up to air on BBC1 and BBC2 with the Beeb's two main radio outlets, BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 also mixing live and packaged coverage. The broadcaster also has pledged coverage on its BBC World Service, which is available around the globe.

The London concert at Wembley Stadium is expected to attract more than 150,000 ticketholders who shelled out 55 pounds ($110) to see performances from acts including Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Blunt, Foo Fighters and Snow Patrol.

Proceeds from all the Live Earth concerts will go to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

In Germany, the Hamburg concert will be broadcast live by Pro7, which will follow it with the German free-TV premiere of Gore's Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

Across the globe, local stars have signed on to host the Live Earth events. Names include former Olympic champions Ian Thorpe and Katarina Witt, who will host for Fox8 in Australia and Pro7 in Germany, respectively.

Meanwhile, the socially conscious production company behind "An Inconvenient Truth" said Monday it would make a documentary inspired by the Live Earth concerts.

Participant Prods. said British director Brian Hill would direct the currently untitled project. Although it will include footage from the concerts, the feature will move on to focus on the stories of individuals around the world who are working to combat the effects of global change.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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