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TV networks plan telethon to aid families of victims

SHARE TV networks plan telethon to aid families of victims

The six broadcast television networks and HBO are planning a joint effort to raise money for individuals and families who have suffered losses in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Their two-hour telethon, "America: A Tribute to Heroes," will be broadcast on all four networks, as well as whichever cable networks choose to participate, beginning at 8 p.m. MDT Friday. It will be the first entertainment program jointly planned and produced by the four networks.

The show, to be presented without commercials, will feature appearances by many of the biggest names in movies, television and music. A partial list as of Tuesday included Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Calista Flockhart, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Paul Simon, Will Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Robin Williams and Stevie Wonder.

The details of what each celebrity will do in the show have not been worked out. Some will merely make appeals for contributions, while others, the music stars and comedians, will perform.

Barbara Brogliatti, the spokeswoman for the event, said many more names would be added. Figures from both sports and television news are expected to join the list.

The show will be produced in New York and Los Angeles, but for security reasons the arenas or television studios will not be announced in advance. Neither show will have an audience, and the news media are not being allowed to cover the event.

The top West Coast executives of the four broadcast networks — Alex Wallau of ABC, Leslie Moonves of CBS, Sandy Grushow of Fox and Scott Sassa of NBC — met to plan the event.

Cable networks will be invited to participate as long as they can fit the telethon into their program schedules, Brogliatti said. All the broadcast networks own cable channels and could presumably put the telethon on those channels, too. The plan is to create the widest possible audience, Brogliatti said.

A system of phone banks will take pledges during the telethon.

The program, to be rebroadcast on tape delay to the West Coast, will be simulcast on radio stations nationwide. It will also be transmitted on the Internet.

All costs for the program will be borne by the four networks, and all performers are donating their time.