Pop Culture

Clooney takes lead in third celebrity telethon

In response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti that has killed up to tens of thousands of people, George Clooney and MTV Networks are organizing a megawatt line up of musicians, film and television stars for a national telethon looking to be successful in raising funds as previous disaster telethons have in the past.

“He's been on the phone for three days straight with almost no sleep,” Clooney's rep told PEOPLE when he skipped the Critics' Choice Awards Friday in order to prepare for the Haiti telethon. “George knows how to do this well. It's his third one.” The “Up in the Air” actor and humanitarian was involved in organizing both the Sept. 11 and the South Asia tsunami telethons.

With specific details still being worked out, the two-hour telethon, airing Jan. 22, will be similar to past disaster events featuring musical performances and an all-star ensemble of Hollywood celebrities offering viewers the opportunity to pledge money.

Just how helpful are the celebrity telethons? Here's a look:

Sept. 11From giant corporations to Hollywood's finest, the star-studded national telethon for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was deemed a huge success. Called America: A Tribute to Heroes, the show raised more than $100 million with all proceeds going to the September 11th Fund, the United Way and the New York Community Trust — all which provide immediate support in cities affected by the events.

Planned in just seven days, the telethon aired live from New York, Los Angeles and London on Sept. 21, 2001, and was shown uninterrupted on 35 separate broadcast and cable networks simultaneously. It was seen by 59.3 million viewers.

Film producer Joel Gallen helmed the telethon along with Clooney, and team up again for the Haiti telethon. Gallen said his job was made a little easier with the acceptance of every celebrity he approached on extremely short notice. With musical performances from Bruce Springsteen, U2, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder all signed on, Gallen said it was Clooney who suggested having multiple stars, from Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise to Julia Roberts, handle the phones — and speak directly to charitable donors.

The show was capped off with two emotional songs: Celine Dion singing “God Bless America” and Willie Nelson leading an all-star version of “America the Beautiful.”

South Asia tsunamiUsing the same format of the Sept. 11 telethon, Hollywood joined forces again in an effort to collect money for the Red Cross after a tsunami ripped through South Asia immediately following a Dec. 26, 2004, quake that devastated Indonesia, Thailand and other neighboring countries.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Neil P. Mockford / GC Images

    Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

  • Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Idris Elba

    Actor Idris Elba seen on the set of :A Hundred Streets" on Aug. 8 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass

    Actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass arrive at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nick Kroll

    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson

    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Cast member D'Arcy poses at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" in Hollywood

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James D'Arcy

    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Julianne Hough

    Actress Julianne Hough arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Hannah Simone

    Actress Hannah Simone arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nina Dobrev

    Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Murphy, Brandy Norwood

    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Tara Reid

    Actress Tara Reid attends The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James Wirt, Julia Stiles

    Actors James Wirt and Julia Stiles stand on stage during the opening night curtain call for "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    AnnaSophia Robb

    Actress AnnaSophia Robb attends the opening night performance of "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Madame Tussauds New York To Unveil New, Never-Before-Seen Selena Gomez Wax Figure

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Selena Gomez

    A boy gives the wax figure of Selena Gomez a kiss at the unveiling of the new new, never-before-seen Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Chris Martin Visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Chris Martin

    Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet the Actors: Michael Fassbender And Domhnall Gleeson - "Frank"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Michael Fassbender

    Actor Michael Fassbender attends "Meet the Actor" at Apple Store Soho on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Mickey Rourke

    Actor Mickey Rourke is seen at "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Jordana Brewster

    Actress Jordana Brewster waves outisde of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: G. Garvin Live

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Keshia Knight Pulliam

    Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam attends G. Garvin Live at Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon is seen on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Miley Cyrus

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Miley Cyrus

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: 67th Locarno Film Festival - Day 2

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Melanie Griffith

    Actress Melanie Griffith attends a press conference during the 67th Locarno Film Festival on Aug. 7 in Locarno, Switzerland.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Lily Allen

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Lily Allen

    Singer Lily Allen performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: "The Expendables 3" Paris Photocall At Cinema UGC Normandie

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    'Expendables 3'

    The stars of "Expendables 3," from left, Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes attend "Expendables 3" at Cinema UGC Normandie on Aug. 7 in Paris.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Meet The FilmMakers: "The Rover"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Robert Pattinson

    Actor Robert Pattinson speaks during the Meet The Filmmakers event for "The Rover" at Apple Store, Regent Street on Aug. 7 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman

    Actors Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are spotted filming Bateman's "The Family Fang" in Westchester, New York, on Aug. 7.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Africa: New Partnership Models For Growth

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Akon

    Grammy-nominated artist Akon, who is the founder of Akon Lighting Africa Project, discusses at the US-Africa Leaders Summit "Africa: New Parnership Models for Growth" news conference, held in Washington, DC, on Aug. 7, the progress that African heads of state have made.

    Getty Images / Getty Images

Clooney was one of the lead organizers of NBC's tsunami relief telethon, Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, which aired on Jan. 15, 2005. It featured performances by Madonna, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Wonder again and others.

NBC carried the two-hour telethon and ran it on six other NBC Universal-owned channels. The concert was seen at least in part by some 19.5 million total viewers.

In addition to the musical acts on the show, Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Halle Berry joined a team of celebrities who answered phones, taking pledges from viewers. The tsunami relief telethon raised $18.3 million for the American Red Cross International Response Fund.

Hurricane KatrinaBen Affleck and Bruce Willis (among others) manned the phones for Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, on Sept. 9, 2005, to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The telethon was broadcast on more than 29 channels and raised an estimated $30 million for the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Jennifer Aniston was one of the volunteer celebs who made a direct appeal for funds. “All across the Gulf coast some babies are still separated from their parents,” said the actress. “These children will need a lifetime of support — support that you and I can begin to provide right now. So please help.”

And with the help of such musical performances by Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Dixie Chicks and Neil Young, the telecast was seen by 22.2 million viewers.

TOP