Friday, September 21, 2001

Networks join for star-powered tribute

By David Bauder, The Associated Press
and John Kiesewetter, The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than two dozen TV networks — including all seven Cincinnati stations — will simulcast today's star-studded benefit for terrorist attack victims at 9 p.m.

        America: A Tribute to Heroes will air on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, UPN, WB, Pax TV and Telemundo.

        It also will be on BET, BET Jazz, Comedy Central, Court TV, Discovery, E!, Fox Family, FX, HBO, Learning Channel, Lifetime, MTV, Showtime, Sundance, TNN, TNT and VH1.

        Singers Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Faith Hill, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Will Smith, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Mariah Carey and the Dixie Chicks are scheduled to appear.

        Also donating their time are George Clooney, Robin Williams, Clint Eastwood, Calista Flockhart, Dennis Franz, Kelsey Grammer, Tom Hanks, Amy Brennenman, Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Alicia Keys, Ray Romano, Julia Roberts and Sela Ward.

        The show will be broadcast live from New York and Los Angeles without a studio audience. It will benefit the United Way's September 11 Fund.

        Such cooperation has little precedent in U.S. broadcasting.

        During World War II, CBS and NBC radio produced a Christmas Eve 1942 special with Jack Benny, Tommy Dorsey and Judy Garland that was broadcast widely across the country, according to the Museum of Television and Radio.

        A 50th anniversary Ford Motor Co. special in 1953 featuring Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Edward R. Murrow was simulcast on ABC, CBS and NBC.

        In Cincinnati, all local stations carried the Future-Thon, a solicitation for Cincinnati Youth Collaborative mentors, on Jan. 29, 1990.

        The national show will air hours after the Cincinnati Cares Freedom Rally at Paul Brown Stadium with Eliot Sloan from Blessid Union of Souls, Nick Lachey from 98`, Gov. Bob Taft, Sen. George Voinovich and Rozzi's Famous Fireworks.

        Although WCPO-TV (Channel 9) is organizing the 7 p.m. event with WRRM-FM (98.5), no live TV coverage is planned.

        Paul Brown Stadium managers banned live coverage after WXIX-TV (Channel 19) requested TV rights. Stadium managers didn't want to take sides among competing stations, said Lisa Insenga, spokesperson for Paul Brown Stadium Ltd.

        “I think a live telecast, plus high school football games and a chance of rain, would hurt the turn-out,” says Bill Fee, Channel 9 general manager.

        “We want to fill Paul Brown Stadium with 60,000 patriotic Americans singing, and show the rest of the world that we're not the backward city that everybody thinks this is,” he says.


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