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Melissa Etheridge
among stars slated for Katrina benefit concerts

Melissa Etheridge
among stars slated for Katrina benefit concerts

The six major U.S. television networks agreed on Friday to a September 9 air date for a rare joint broadcast of a live all-star charity concert to raise money for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. No details on talent were immediately unveiled for the show, dubbed "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast." But plans call for an hourlong commercial-free special featuring musical performances and appearances by leading entertainers appealing for cash donations to the hurricane relief effort. The stars also will pay tribute to storm victims and rescue personnel who have saved thousands from floodwaters in the stricken region, organizers said.

The telethon will be carried live in the Eastern time zone by six major commercial broadcasters--CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, the WB, and UPN networks--and tape-delayed for the West Coast and mountain regions. The simulcast, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time, also will be made available to cable networks, radio stations, and broadband Internet providers.

The event is being put together by veteran producer Joel Gallen, the man behind a similar two-hour special aired by the major networks four years ago, 10 days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That telethon, called "America: A Tribute to Heroes," drew 59 million viewers and raised more than $150 million in pledges to assist families of people killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Separately, NBC was going ahead on Friday with its own live benefit for hurricane relief, featuring performances by Louisiana-born music stars Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, and Tim McGraw. The lineup for yet another fund-raising concert special airing September 10 on MTV includes the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, Brian Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, and the Neville Brothers, organizers said on Friday. And numerous stars, including Mariah Carey, Julie Andrews, Pamela Anderson, and George Lopez will appear in a series of American Red Cross public service spots for hurricane relief airing on E! Entertainment Television starting on Saturday. (Reuters)

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