What an incredible phenomenon American Idol is — and what a phenomenal idea it was to capture that juggernaut and put it to good use for a star-studded blockbuster charity event meant to entertain millions of people for the sake of helping millions more. Last night's "Idol Gives Back" feautred a Rolodex worth of stars joining Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and the American Idol hopefuls in a night of exhilarating performances, unexpected collaborations and heartbreaking presentations showing just who, exactly, those donated dollars would go to help. "Tonight isn't just about raising money," said Brad Pitt after showing a video on reconstruction in New Orleans. "Sometimes to help people we have to travel outside our comfort zone to really understand another situation." Videos about the victims of America's health care crisis, AIDS-stricken Africa and, closer to home, at Goshen Elementary School in a poor community near Hollywood and which has been a beneficiary of Save The Children, one of the "Idol Gives Back" charities.
Tyra Banks, Brad Pitt, David Spade, Dane Cook, Forrest Whitaker, John Legend, The Jonas Brothers, Gloria Estefan, Billy Crystal, Miley Cyrus, David Beckham and wife Victoria (aka Posh & Becks) joined in the festivities and fundraising; though all three presidential candidates taped segments for the show, they were cut for time and will air tonight. Miley Cyrus, however, performed twice). Some highlights are presented below:
Jimmy Kimmel was drafted to introduce Simon Cowell (but alas, not to make good use of all these big names for an installment of his show's, er, specialty song). After lingering lovingly on Simon's nipples ("Back to Simon's nipples, if I may"), Kimmel introduced Cowell's video about the Children's Health Fund, seeking to provide mobile medical aid to some of the 15 million children without health insurance.
Miley! Cyrus! (sorry, we were just 13 for a second):
Elvis-topping Mariah Carey:
Robin Williams (in a character that's a cross between Borat and Mork) and Ryan Seacrest. First Stalin joke ever on American Idol?
Ooh, Barracuda! Fergie joins Heart for some hard-shredding lady-rockin' one-hand somersaultin' action:
Brad Pitt introduces Daughtry (so named for former Idol finalist Chris Daughtry) and their video from Uganda:
Another "Idol" return — Carrie Underwood:
...and Teri Hatcher, taking her place at the mic in a random (but pretty good!) performance. Man, is James Denton hot:
They can't sing, but who cares? They're Posh and Becks:
It's the 90s all over again - Gloria Estefan and Sheila E. get on their feet:
Video: Alicia Keys in Africa:
Bono and Annie Lennox promote action and awareness about HIV and AIDS in Africa:
And finally, the contestants, with "Seasons of Love" from Rent: