In an unprecedented and unexpected American Idol first, all six contestants were declared safe this week during last night's Idol Gives Back fundraising special. Amazingly, over 70 million votes were received after Tuesday's performance show, setting a new American Idol and world record. The two-part Idol Gives Back special, which concluded with last night's star-studded gala, has already raised over $60 million (and counting) for Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF) and its charity beneficiaries that provide relief programs to help children and young people in extreme poverty in America and Africa. Donations continue to flow in, and an updated total will be announced on American Idol next Tuesday, May 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. Donations will continue to be accepted through Thursday, May 31, by telephone at 1-877-IDOL-AID (1-877-436-5243) and via the Internet at www.Americanidol.com.
The corporate sponsors of Idol Gives Back are led by News Corporation, Ford, Coca-Cola and AT&T. FOX parent company News Corp. generously pledged 10 cents for each of the first 50 million votes received on Tuesday night, resulting in a $5-million donation. Allstate and ExxonMobil will make matching contributions to Save the Children and Malaria No More, respectively, via CPEF. In addition, Ford has contributed generously by producing a very special music video featuring the Top 6 finalists. This video along with a unique version of "Stayin' Alive" and Carrie Underwood performing "I'll Stand By You," which aired last night, will be available for download on iTunes along with other music segments from the broadcast. Proceeds from the downloads will be contributed to Idol Gives Back. Additional corporate contributions were announced from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ConAgra Foods.
Last night's two-hour Idol Gives Back special featured performances from the American Idol stage - where Ryan Seacrest hosted alongside American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Paul Abdul and Simon Cowell - as well as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, where Ellen DeGeneres served as host. DeGeneres announced that she is making a personal donation of $100,000. Throughout the evening, viewers had an opportunity to make their own donations via toll-free pledge lines and the Internet.
The night culminated in Bono and Dave Stewart's specially commissioned song "American Prayer," performed by the Top 6 finalists. Also appearing on the American Idol stage, Celine Dion traveled back to 1968 to duet with the late Elvis Presley on his hit song "If I Can Dream," and the Top 6 finalists sang Quincy Jones' anthem "Time to Care" after being mentored by the legendary music producer. Additional celebrities appearing on the American Idol set included Jack Black and Seal.
Earth, Wind & Fire, Il Divo, Rascal Flatts, Josh Groban with the African Children's Choir, the original American Idol Kelly Clarkson and Annie Lennox gave live performances from Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The illustrious group of celebrity participants also included Madonna, as well as Kirstie Alley, Gillian Anderson, Marc Anthony, Kevin Bacon, Jason Biggs, Blue Man Group, Emily Blunt, Michael Bublé, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Chris Daughtry, Mickey Dolenz, Hugh Grant, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Teri Hatcher, Goldie Hawn, LeBron James, Chris Kattan, Keira Knightley, Lisa Kudrow, Hugh Laurie, Rob Lowe, Joel and Benji Madden, Eric McCormack, Dr. Phil McGraw, Kevin McNally, Helen Mirren, Parminder Nagra, Shaquille O'Neal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miss Piggy, Rob Schneider, David Schwimmer, the Simpsons, Ben Stiller, Twiggy, Harvey Weinstein and Forest Whitaker.
Seacrest kept the Top 6 contestants in suspense as he told them one by one - and in no particular order - that they were safe. Next week, television's most popular show heats up when the Top 6 (Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson, Jordin Sparks and Phil Stacey) compete head-to-head again on Tuesday, May 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed). Rock star Jon Bon Jovi will mentor the contestants as they prepare to sing songs by his legendary band. Tune in the following night to see a live performance by multi-Platinum Bon Jovi and find out who receives enough votes to stay in the competition and who must go home. The American Idol producers have determined that the voting totals from this week and next week will be combined, and the "bottom 2" will be sent home on the live results show Wednesday, May 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. As with this week, next week's voting window will be extended from two to four hours.
CPEF is a new charitable organization established to raise money and awareness to help combat extreme poverty in the U.S. and throughout the world, particularly in Africa. CPEF's mission is to use the power of entertainment to drive positive change to achieve its vision of creating a just world free from poverty. CPEF is inspired and supported by the UK charity that invented Red Nose Day.
CPEF is a supporter of ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History, a new effort by Americans to rally Americans -- ONE by ONE -- to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is a coalition of over 2.4 million people and more than 100 of the nation's leading relief, humanitarian and advocacy organizations joining together to help save lives in Africa and the world's poorest countries.
In the United States, CPEF has selected Save the Children, America's Second Harvest - The Nation's Food Bank Network, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Children's Health Fund as beneficiaries of Idol Gives Back. These organizations deliver support to poor children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country, providing them with medical care, food and grocery products, health and life skills, literacy programs and obesity prevention, among other important initiatives.
In Africa, funds will be dedicated to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets, Save the Children and The U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Each organization will receive funds to support efforts to battle poverty through various health and education programs, including delivering medical supplies and providing clean water. These organizations also aim to control and prevent malaria through practical resources and programs, including providing life-saving bed nets and other activities tied to Africa Malaria Day on April 25.