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Friday, June 25, 1999 Published at 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK


Stars back children's project

Actress Susan Sarandon leading Listen's celebrity backers

An ambitious fund-raising campaign backed by 99 of the world's top film stars, musicians, writers and artists has been launched.

Hollywood stars Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Liam Neeson, Jeff Bridges and Brooke Shields, plus singers Sting, Neneh Cherry and Peter Gabriel are among the first 29 celebrity backers to be announced.

The Listen project is aiming to raise $99 million for children - 90% will go to projects helping children in the developing world. The other 10% going to children in need in richer countries.

The highlight of the six-month campaign will be what's being billed as the "world's first pan-international telethon".

There will also be two albums, two videos and two one-hour international TV specials.

[ image: Award-winning Jamie Lee Curtis is backing campaign]
Award-winning Jamie Lee Curtis is backing campaign
Speaking of the project, actress Jamie Lee Curtis said: "I am one of 99 people lending their time and their care to help promote the message of listening to children and the Listen project.

"We must listen to what is already going on for children, not just in our homes, but around the world - even if it is distasteful, even if it is not what we want to hear.

"What has really hit home is the sobering reality of the life of some many children."

Other stars backing the campaign include blues veteran John Lee Hooker, horror star Christopher Lee, actress Vanessa Redgrave, singer Suzanne Vega and sculptor Anish Kapoor.

The celebrity backers are all contributing in different ways to the project. Many are visiting children's projects around the world, while others are recording music, creating art and making adverts and TV programmes.

The UK-based Tribute organisation is behind the Listen project. Events it has produced in the past include the 1988 Nelson Mandela Birthday Tribute and The Wall Live from Berlin.

The International Save the Children Alliance, Operation Smile and Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund will be among the large range of charities and organsiations to benefit.

"The run up to the new millennium is a time to review humanity's progress over the last 1,000 years," said Tribute's Tony Hollingsworth.

"In the last millennium 25% of the world's children have become healthy, wealthy, educated and immunised - the rest have been left in the same poverty as their forefathers."

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