Haiti telethon seeks largest global audience

NEW YORK Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:38pm EST

Lead singer Bono of the rock band U2 performs during a concert at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in this October 25, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

Lead singer Bono of the rock band U2 performs during a concert at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in this October 25, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/Files

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A benefit for Haiti that will feature dozens of stars and a collaboration by U2 singer Bono and rapper Jay-Z will be the most widely distributed telethon to reach viewers across the globe, MTV said on Wednesday.

George Clooney, the actor who organized the event, will host the two-hour "Hope for Haiti Now" show starting at 8 p.m. EST on Friday to raise money for the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country.

Showcasing performances from Los Angeles, New York and London, the telethon will be broadcast through MTV networks available in 640 million homes worldwide, including for the first time China's MTV channel, as well as audiences through other major networks such as CNN.

The event will also be streamed live on websites including YouTube, Hulu and MySpace and through mobile phone carriers, raising the size of the potential audience.

MTV, the show's co-producer, said the broad collaboration would make it the most widely distributed telethon in history.

Other telethons and concert fundraisers have claimed huge audiences and brought in millions in relief money.

The Live Aid concert in 1985, to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia, reached an estimated 1.5 billion people at a time before widespread Internet and mobile phone use.

The London performance of the Haiti benefit will feature Coldplay plus a group performance by Bono and U2 guitarist The Edge along with Jay-Z and singer Rihanna.

The Edge, Bono and Jay-Z have teamed up to record a song to benefit Haiti, MTV said.

Clooney will host the event from Los Angeles with performances by Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and a group jam by Keith Urban, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

In New York, Haiti-born singer Wyclef Jean will be joined by Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira and Sting.

Proceeds will be split among relief organizations including the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the UN World Food Programme, Oxfam America, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation. From Saturday, all of the performances will be available to buy on Apple's iTunes.

The Haiti event will be looking to top the $28 million in relief funds raised by Wednesday by mobile phone users in the United States and Canada through text messages, according to the Mobile Giving Foundation.

Other big telethons that have raised millions include "A Tribute to Heroes" in 2001 after the September 11 attacks on the United States, "Shelter from the Storm" in 2005 for victims of Hurricane Katrina and "A Concert of Hope" in 2005 after the Asian tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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