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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 September 2005, 02:52 GMT 03:52 UK
Stars unite for Katrina telethon
Kanye West

A one-hour telethon has been aired by six major US television networks to raise funds for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Artists such as U2, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and rapper Kanye West performed at TV studios in New York and Los Angeles.

The programme steered clear of politics and focused on fundraising, says the BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles.

Donations will go to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and WB - the six biggest US broadcasting networks - transmitted the show along with several cable networks.

Singer Randy Newman opened the show with his song Louisiana 1927 about a previous hurricane. He was followed by U2 who sang the rock band's anthem One accompanied by Mary J Blige.

U2 and Mary J Blige
U2 performed with Mary J Blige

The telethon went on to feature performances from musicians including Paul Simon, Rod Stewart and the Dixie Chicks.

Actresses Cameron Diaz and Ellen DeGeneres, and actor Jack Nicholson also appeared and helped take donation calls from the public.

Friends star Jennifer Aniston was one of the participating celebrities who made a direct appeal for funds.

"All across the Gulf coast some babies are still separated from their parents," said the actress. "These children will need a life time of support - support that you and I can begin to provide right now. So please help."

No cuts

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman said that watching Katrina's "brutal defacement of our Gulf coast and the tragedy of New Orleans" had been "difficult to endure", and asked viewers to donate generously.

Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck
Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck were among the stars taking calls

Ahead of the show, producer Joel Gallen announced no special precautions would be taken to edit political statements.

He added that the Shelter From the Storm telethon would be shown with a standard 30-second delay to guard against obscenities.

During last week's New York benefit concert, West broke from the script to say: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

He also claimed the US was not set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off". His comments were heard live by viewers on the US east coast.

The Black Entertainment Television (BET) also held its own telethon on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Singer Usher
Usher was among those who also supported the BET telethon

The event hosted by Queen Latifah and Steve Harvey included performances from Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, David Banner and Neil Young.

The show interspersed musical performances with film clips of Gulf Coast residents asking for help to locate missing relatives and friends.

Keys sang her hit If I Ain't Got You, and Patti LaBelle sang the Pretenders song I'll Stand By You.

Rappers Jay-Z and Diddy presented a $1m (544,000) cheque to the Red Cross from the New York hip-hop community.

"There's been a lot of telethons," Diddy said, "but this is our telethon. These are our people."

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