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'Heroes' Telethon Raises $150 Million In Pledges

An internationally televised special that brought together some of the biggest names in show business raised more than $150 million in pledges for victims of the Sept. 11 air attacks and their families, organizers said on Monday.

The two-hour, commercial-free program, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” aired Friday night on more than 35 U.S. broadcast and cable networks, the Internet and 8,000 radio stations nationwide. It also was beamed to TV outlets in more than 210 countries and carried on the Armed Forces Network to U.S. military personnel stationed in 175 nations around the globe.

The unprecedented simulcast drew an average U.S. television audience of 59 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That figure surpassed the 42.9 million viewers who tuned in to this year’s Academy Awards but was well below the 84.2 million tallied by this year’s Super Bowl.

Dozens of stars from the movie, television and music industries took part in the event, providing entertainment and appearing on air to take pledges over the phone.

The show, simulcast live without a studio audience from candle-lit sound stages in New York and Los Angeles, opened with veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen singing “My City of Ruins.” Pop diva Mariah Carey sang “Hero” in her first performance since suffering a nervous breakdown in July, and Canadian-born songstress Celine Dion emerged from semi-retirement to sing “God Bless America.”

Other recording acts included Neil Young, Billy Joel, the Dixie Chicks, Wyclef Jean, Enrique Iglesias, Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon and U2. Their musical performances were interspersed with spoken-word tributes from such stars as Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Ray Romano and Kelsey Grammer.

The show ended with country music legend Willie Nelson leading several verses of “America the Beautiful” with a chorus of assembled stars that included Al Pacino, Halle Berry, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood and Stevie Wonder.

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