If star power alone could restore southeast Texas and Florida to their pre-hurricane status, the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” telethon would have been an immediate success.
Broadcasting live on 17 different networks and outlets from New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, and San Antonio, Texas; the phone bank was a who’s who of A-listers. Included were George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro, Jared Leto, Oprah, Lupita Nyong’o, Al Pacino, Sofia Vergara, Kerry Washington, Bruce Willis, and Julia Roberts. Basically - just about every famous person in Hollywood turned up to man the phones and or ask for donations on camera.
Beyoncé, Drake, and Will Smith tugged at our heartstrings in taped segments, while Cher, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, Reese Witherspoon, and others stepped to the stage to share stories of those impacted by the storms as well. As for musical performances:
- Stevie Wonder opened the show with a stunning rendition of "Lean On Me" in New York,
- In Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Usher and Blake Shelton sang "Stand By Me,"
- Luis Fonsi and Tori Kelly offered up "Hallelujah"from New York
- Also in Nashville, Brad Paisley, Demi Lovato, Darius Rucker, Cece Winans rocked a performance of "With a Little Help from My Friends,"
- Also in New York, Dave Matthews sang "Mercy"
- Closing the event with a performance in San Antonio, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovettsang "Texas" and "I Believe"
Still, the telethon was not without some controversy. As Wonder opened the event, he took a swipe at climate change deniers saying that anyone who doesn't believe in global warming "must be blind or unintelligent."
Either way, all the appeals worked. The benefit pulled in more than $44-million dollars for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – and that was before it was broadcast on tape delay for the west coast. If you want to make a difference and contribute, you can - visit Hand in Hand’s website.