September 25, 2001 -- Friday night's heart-tugging, all-star, multi-network TV telethon, America: A Tribute to Heroes, raised more than $150 million in pledges from calls and from the Internet, according to a press release from the networks.
That tops the first mega-star fundraiser of its kind, the Live Aid concerts and Band Aid all-star Christmas recording during the 1980s, which raised a reported $110 million in relief for African famine victims, according to The Associated Press.
89 Million Viewers Tune In A phenomenal 89 million total viewers tuned into at least part of the event, which was broadcast on 31 networks and seen in 200 countries around the globe — even in Afghanistan, a telecast spokesman said. During the show's two hours, an average of 59.3 million were tuned in at any given point. By comparison, President Bush's 45-minute speech on Thursday, which was broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox averaged 82 million viewers.
One hundred percent of the funds raised from Friday's event will go to The September 11th Telethon Fund, and will be earmarked to help the thousands of victims and their families who have suffered from the terrorist attacks on America, organizers said.
Everyone involved from The United Way to the networks to the stars themselves, donated their time and effort for the cause without compensation.
But the fundraising goes on: Donations can still be made at the Web site (www.tributetoheroes.org) or mailed in care of The September 11th Telethon Fund at P.O. Box 203103, Houston, TX 77216-3103.
Musical Performances May Be Released on CD The event itself may also live on beyond the one-time broadcast. Organizers are considering releasing a compact disc with some of the telethon's musical performances and possibly a DVD. Some of the night's memorable performances included Bruce Springsteen singing "My City in Ruins," Neil Young singing John Lennon's "Imagine," and Willie Nelson leading a group of stars ranging from Mark Wahlberg to Meg Ryan to Brad Pitt in singing "America: The Beautiful."
Reuters contributed to this story.