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All-Star Telethon Spinning Off Benefit CD

Building on the success of last week’s all-star telethon for victims of the Sept. 11 air attacks, musical performances from the show will be packaged as a benefit album to raise additional relief dollars, organizers said Wednesday.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, is overseeing efforts to obtain rights for the companion CD from the recording artists who appeared on the show, insiders told Reuters. Interscope is a unit of Vivendi Universal.

Iovine played a key role in booking musical acts for the telethon, dubbed “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” which featured such stars as Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, the Dixie Chicks, U2, Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, Wyclef Jean and Sting.

The only rights initially obtained from performers were for the show itself, according to spokeswoman for the telethon.

The commercial-free event was simulcast on 35 U.S. broadcast and cable networks, some 8,000 radio stations and the Internet. It also was beamed to TV outlets in more than 210 countries around the globe.

The two-hour show raised more than $150 million in pledges for a special relief fund established for victims of the aerial attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That is nearly three times the amount raised by the latest 21-hour Labor Day telethon hosted by Jerry Lewis for muscular dystrophy.

Meanwhile, the governing body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, has voted to donate $1 million to aid victims of the Sept. 11 tragedies.

As with the telethon, 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the benefit album will go to the relief fund, said Barbara Brogliatti, a spokeswoman for the telethon.

“It’s being done as soon as possible. They’re working on it as fast as humanly possible,” she said.

Asked about reports that some stars who wanted to perform on the show were snubbed, most notably pop star Michael Jackson, Brogliatti said, “No one was turned down because we didn’t want them there. There were a lot of logistical reasons why a lot of people… couldn’t be there.”

Some artists were left out due to a limited number of performance slots, which were booked up in 24 hours, she said.

Jackson had been invited to perform on the show, a spokeswoman said, but she said she did not know why the Gloved One ultimately did not make an appearance.

Jackson, meanwhile, spent a second week working on his own charity project, an all-star recording of a new song, “What More Can I Give,” composed by the pop star. Among the artists joining him in the studio since last week were Destiny’s Child, Reba McEntire, Tom Petty, Brian McNight, Seal and Boyz II Men, a spokeswoman said.

Jackson, who also plans to sing on the track, is recording each of the performers individually and will mix them together in the studio, she said.

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