NBC-Universal Chairman Bob Wright led off the special with an appeal to viewers to donate to the American Red Cross. New York Gov. George Pataki presented Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter with a check for $2.5 million from his state.
Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Aaron Neville performed New Orleans jazz and R&B, and country artists Tim McGraw and Faith Hill also sang on the "Concert for Hurricane Relief." Hill urged viewers to help the region recover.
"It's time now for all of us to take the burden off these people," she said.
The lineup of actors asking viewers to donate included Richard Gere, Hilary Swank, Mike Myers, Chris Tucker and Marcia Gay Harden. Leonardo DiCaprio announced that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association donated $250,000, and Connick said he and his fellow "Will & Grace" cast members had donated $150,000.
The show featured one moment of criticism directed at President Bush, when rapper Kanye West said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Producers immediately cut away from West to a shot of Tucker. The line was cut from the later videotape feed of the telecast for West Coast viewers.
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB and UPN said Friday they will simulcast "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast," a telethon to raise funds for hurricane relief, on Sept. 9.
Jerry Lewis said he will urge donors to his annual Labor Day telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day telethon -- which runs Sunday through Monday -- to donate to the Red Cross as well.