Celebrities band together for benefit at MuchMusic
By JENNIFER LEWINGTON, The Globe and Mail
With a report from Reuters
Monday, September 24, 2001
TORONTO -- Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield hopes that the terrorist attacks on the United States two weeks ago will teach people to go the distance in a new way -- and learn to be kind to one another.
"Be a good person and lead a good life," said the native of Kingston, Ont., who won Canada's first Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Games last year. "If everyone tried to be a good person and did things honestly and responsibly, then none of this would happen."
His comments came after an appearance yesterday at a televised benefit by MuchMusic to raise money for the Canadian Red Cross to help the victims of the attacks.
He and more than a dozen celebrities, mostly from sports and music, donated their time for the five-hour Music Without Borders broadcast from CITY-TV studios in Toronto. There were no immediate estimates on the amount raised.
The commercial-free show replaced the video station's annual MuchMusic Video Awards, which had been scheduled for the evening but was cancelled after the attack.
Toronto Raptors basketball star Jerome Williams said it was important for celebrities to urge their fans to get involved as a way to fight terrorism.
"We have to pull together to help the families [of the victims]," he said. "We need to bring attention to what is going on in the world and show that numbers do matter."
David Kines, vice-president and general manager of MuchMusic, said the benefit was "surprisingly easy" to organize because the celebrities agreed to appear without hesitation. Among those who showed up to play music and, in some cases, talk about the attacks were Barenaked Ladies, Shaggy, Gordon Downie -- of the Tragically Hip -- and Nelly Furtado.
Orville Richard Burrell, the Kingston, Jamaica-born reggae star known as Shaggy, was scheduled to be in Toronto for a concert.
Now based in Brooklyn, N.Y., the singer said Americans are feeling a desire for revenge.
"I have a bit of that," he conceded. "But looking at things in perspective you have to be careful to make sure you make the right choice."
The musician, who spent five months in the Persian Gulf war as a member of the U.S. Marines, observed that the current conflict is different from that battle against Iraq in 1991. "There, you knew who you were fighting; here, you don't."
Meanwhile, a two-hour American television extravaganza that brought together some of the biggest names in entertainment to raise money for victims of the terrorist attacks attracted 59 million viewers, media tracking firm Nielsen Media Research said.
That number for America: A Tribute to Heroes, which was broadcast on Friday night, was more than the 42.9 million viewers for this year's Academy Awards.
Organizers of the hastily assembled event told CNN that preliminary estimates of money raised exceeded $110-million (U.S.).