Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band closed out the show with "Land Of Hope and Dreams" on Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together, the hour long telethon that was broadcast live from 30 Rockefeller Center in New York on Friday night. The TV concert fundraiser, which was produced by NBC and shown on a a variety of outlets, including HBO, also featured Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Billy Joel, Sting, Mary J. Blige and a host of celebrities, including Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Stewart
All proceeds from the show went directly to the American Red Cross. Viewers were encouraged to text the words 'Red Cross" to number 90999 on their cell phones to donate $10, or make a donation at itunes/redcross or by calling 1 800 HELP NOW.
The telethon was hosted by the Today show's Matt Lauer in 30 Rock's Studio 6B - where the Dr. Oz show is shot during the day. It came together hastily this week after Lauer took a tour on Tuesday of a neighborhood in hard hit Rockaway Beach, Queens that had seen 50 first responder residents die in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and an American Airlines jet crash their weeks later.
Laurer spurred NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke to pull together the telethon, which Burke told the USA Today he hoped would raise "tens of millions of dollars.""One of the great ironies of this telethon," Lauer said on Friday night, "is that the people who need the help most can't watch it - they don't have power."
The show featured many a big star performing in an unpolished, winningly disorganized and intimate setting, in front of a small studio audience that greeted show-stopping performances like Sting's solo version of "Message In A Bottle" with a smattering of applause.
Many of the acts sang songs of their own that felt legitimately appropriate to the topic at hand, from Bon Jovi's severe, acoustic "Livin' On A Prayer" to Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out on Broadway)," a song from his 1976 album Turnstiles. Strangest of all was a version of "Under the Boardwalk" in which Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and talk show host Jimmy Fallon sang lead vocals and Springsteen and Joel handled backups.
Stewart brought a levity to the evening, but he also was serious when he said: "This catastrophe is bigger than our resilience - and we need your help." Blige, before belting out her survivor's anthem "The Living Proof," made the plea, "Please - everybody. Give something, anything. Everything counts."
Kevin Bacon, who introuduced Blige, said "i grew up in Philadelphia, and they got hit hard by the storm, too." And after Springsteen and his 11 band rolled up thier sleeves and finished off "Land Of Hope And Dreams" with its gospel allusions to Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" he spoke for everyone on hand by saying: "God bless New York, God bless the Jersey shore."