Mary J Blige performs at iHeart Radio Music Festival on Saturday, Sept., 22, 2012 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Eric Reed/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) — Mary J. Blige was added to the bill of NBC’s Friday telethon benefiting victims of superstorm Sandy, and HBO has agreed to televise it.
The telethon is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Eastern and Western times, with Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Sting and others performing to benefit the American Red Cross and its disaster relief efforts.
The event, with Matt Lauer as host, is heavy on stars identified with New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area, which took the brunt of this week’s deadly storm. Actor James Gandolfini of “The Sopranos” and comic Jon Stewart will also participate.
It will air across the stable of NBC Universal networks, including USA, CNBC, MSNBC, E! Entertainment, The Weather Channel and Bravo.
NBC Universal invited other networks to televise the event, but so far only HBO, Discovery Fitness & Health and Velocity have signed on.
That may have something to do with network rivalries.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the networks organized a benefit together behind the scenes and it was televised on more than 30 networks simultaneously, including all of the big broadcasters.
After Hurricane Katrina, NBC televised its own benefit event before the other broadcasters, one that became best known for Kanye West’s off-script declaration that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” The other broadcasters cooperated on their own telethon a week later, and NBC televised that one, too.
Also this year, NBC organized and scheduled a telethon on its own and gave others the chance to air it.
Others have declined to televise the telethon, even though ABC parent Walt Disney Co. said it would donate $2 million to the American Red Cross and various ABC shows will promote a “Day of Giving” on Monday. The CBS Corp., Viacom Inc., parent of “Jersey Shore” network MTV, Fox network owner News Corp. also announced big donations to the Red Cross.