As the world comes to grips with last week”s harrowing events, the entertainment industry is slowly coming back from its full stop after the attacks. The near shutdown of Hollywood and its affiliated studios in New York has affected all of the Hollywood elite and stirred an outpouring of long-awaited generosity both financially and emotionally. The entertainment industry has finally shown the heart that it has so profusely claimed to have and it just keeps getting bigger.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of New Line, Jeff Vespa and Paul Natkin

As hometown firefighters walk neighboring streets hoping for cash donations and the Red Cross holds blood drives, entertainers and studio heads have carefully considered all of their options to assist the relief effort, from shutting down certain film and television productions in hopes to not offend or upset viewers to individually joining or donating funds to various organizations.

Tonight, in an unprecedented television event, the industry which we love to abhor is about to ban together in a wide-scaled tribute to America and its lost brethren in New York and Washington with “American: A Tribute to Heroes.”

Airing on all six of the major networks and simultaneously airing on almost all of the major cable networks including HBO, Showtime, TNT, USA, PBS, MTV, VH1 and The Discovery Channel industry organizers have put together a star-studded fundraiser for those affected by last week”s terrorist act on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In a showing of solidarity, the event will air live and commercial free from 9-11 p.m.

This is the first time in history where all of the networks have banned together in a cross-channel fundraiser. Networks like UPN and the WB, which usually air syndicated shows during the 10 p.m. hour, will forego their usual 8 p.m. programming in order to air the special tonight.

The tribute will take place in both Los Angeles and New York due to security circumstances. Organizers are keeping the exact locations under wraps and there will be no studio audiences or news media in attendance. All funds raised will go to the relief effort, with all costs of the tribute underwritten by the networks. Even the stars are donating their time.

From coast to coast, celebrities from television, film, music, news and sports will take part in this spectacular show of appreciation, filling the evening with inspirational moments, music and most importantly, hope.

In a joint network statement released late Tuesday evening, organizers said: “”America: A Tribute to Heroes” will seek to unite a shaken world with words and music while paying tribute to the indomitable spirit, unfaltering fortitude and courage that truly makes America the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Participants of the event include: Bon Jovi, Amy Brenneman (“Judging Amy”), Mariah Carey, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, The Dixie Chicks, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Calista Flockheart, Dennis Franz (“N.Y.P.D. Blue”), Kelsey Grammer, Tom Hanks, Faith Hill, Wyclef Jean, Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”), Alicia Keys, Willie Nelson, Conan O”Brien, Tom Petty, Ray Romano, Julia Roberts, Paul Simon, Will Smith, Jimmy Smits, Bruce Springsteen, Sela Ward (“Once and Again”), Robin Williams, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young. More celebrities are expected to take part in the event.

“America: A Tribute to Heroes” will also be videostreamed on the Internet by Yahoo and simulcast on radio stations nationwide. Means for donations will be announced during the show.

In related news, TV writers and actors are putting forth efforts to motivate people to send donations by donating autographed scripts to charity. Writers from FOX”s “Dark Angel” will donate a script from the second season premiere autographed by the writing staff. Sci-Fi”s “The Chronicle” will donate scripts from its first season.

Comedian Denis Leary (“The Job”) is also lending a hand by donating funds to the families of firemen killed in the line of duty. Leary is opening a New York branch of his Leary Firefighters Foundation and is accepting donations for those killed during the World Trade Center”s collapse. The Foundation was set up after Leary”s own cousin was killed in Massachusetts in the line of duty.

Also helping out relief efforts, are mega-recording stars Madonna and Britney Spears. Madonna coughed up around $2 million by donating all the proceeds from her Los Angeles concert. Spears will donate $1 from each ticket sold for her upcoming fall tour to the children of the firefighters and police officers killed in the terrorist attacks. The pop star will also auction off various merchandise and tickets.

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, is also in talks to produce another “We are the World”-type benefit effort, this time in remembrance of those killed in Tuesday”s attacks. Various celebrities are said to be signing up on the spot, including most of those who performed with Jackson at his own tribute two weeks ago.

Other celebrities that have joined in relief efforts include Robert De Niro who has assisted catering efforts for rescue workers and Steve Bucemi, an ex-firefighter who took out his old equipment and joined the rescue workers at the World Trade Center. Actress Kathleen Turner helped out with triage efforts in nearby, New York medical centers.

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