Major media companies are beginning to set plans to support relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy, which has been blamed for more than 70 deaths in the U.S., left millions of people without power and wreaked damage that 's still being assessed.
NBC Universal said Thursday morning that it will air a one-hour fundraising special Friday night at 8 p.m. hosted by "The Today Show" host Matt Lauer, with performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera, Billy Joel and Sting. NBC's Brian Williams and Jimmy Fallon will also appear.
The special will run on NBC Universal networks including NBC, USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, E!, Syfy and G4. Viewer donations will go to American Red Cross work around Hurricane Sandy. No sponsors are involved and no commercials are planned.
NBC Universal organized a similar benefit after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, although it got a little more than it bargained for when Kanye West ad-libbed during the show that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." NBC and the other broadcast networks also collaborated on a subsequent Katrina telethon, "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast."
Separately, News Corp. on Wednesday evening announced a $1 million donation to support victims and cleanup, half to the Mayor's Fund for NYC and half for relief efforts in New Jersey. The company, which is based in New York, pointed out in a statement that the storm impacted the communities where many of its employees live. "I sincerely hope many other companies will also be able to provide assistance to families and communities in need of help," News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.
Viacom followed suit Thursday afternoon, when it said it, too, will donate $1 million to aid efforts, splitting the money between the Mayor's Fund for NYC and local organizations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island and Westchester County. Viacom also said it has established a $1 million matching gift program around employee donations to The American Red Cross. Viacom has more than 4,000 employees who live in the communities directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the company said.
MTV , part of Viacom, said Vinny Guadagnino from "Jersey Shore" has recorded a message about how viewers can help. The network will show the message during tonight's "Jersey Shore."
The Walt Disney Company, fresh off a deal to buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, said it would donate $2 million and dedicate much of its programming Monday to a "Day of Giving" theme across shows including "Good Morning America," "Live With Kelly and Michael," "The View," "Katie," local ABC stations' newscasts, "Dancing with the Stars," "Nightline" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
Disney's ESPN network will run public service announcements during programming including New York City Marathon coverage and "Monday Night Football."