What started out as a small, hastily organized NBC telethon for tsunami relief is turning into a major, all-star event. The Jan. 15 program, now doubled in length to two hours and titled Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, has added a roster of A-list pop talent to perform live on the show, including Madonna, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Mary J. Blige, Lenny Kravitz, John Mayer, Kenny Chesney, India.Arie, Tom Jones, Eric Clapton, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Brian Wilson, and Gloria Estefan. (Sheryl Crow, named last week as a performer, is still on the bill, though Christina Aguilera and Tim McGraw apparently are not.) Presenters include Halle Berry, Kevin Spacey, Usher, Uma Thurman, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Bruce Willis, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Tim Robbins, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and George Clooney, who helped recruit the stars. The fundraiser, whose proceeds will go to the Red Cross’ relief efforts, will air Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on all NBC broadcast and cable outlets, including Bravo, USA, Trio, Sci Fi, MSNBC, and CNBC, as well as Pax and Telemundo.
One more star who may or may not show up: Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, who’s been fighting a war of words this week against Clooney. On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, the host reminded viewers of his similar dispute with the actor three years ago, when Clooney spearheaded a similarly star-studded telethon in the days after 9/11, then (according to O’Reilly) turned his back once the cameras stopped rolling and failed to ensure that the millions raised actually went to victims and survivors. Clooney fired back on Monday with an e-mail, arguing that O’Reilly’s claims of fraud on the part of the 9/11 charity (the United Way, not the Red Cross, as O’Reilly said on Thursday) were untrue and would discourage people from donating this time. He then invited O’Reilly to serve as a presenter on the telethon broadcast. ”This is your chance to put your considerable money where your considerable mouth is,” Clooney wrote. ”Show up… help raise money… and if we’re doing something wrong, point it out.” O’Reilly’s response, on his Monday show, was that the invitation ”sounds good … but I want to see what the format is.” He added: ”Clooney may be considering me for a part in Ocean’s Thirteen, where I meet an unpleasant demise.”