Coldplay, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Russell Brand Set for Amnesty International Event

8:07 AM PST 01/25/2012 by Georg Szalai
Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup

The organization's Secret Policeman’s Ball, a celebration of free speech featuring music and comedy, will come to the U.S. for the first time in March.

NEW YORK - Human rights organization Amnesty International is bringing its Secret Policeman’s Ball, a celebration of free speech featuring music and comedy, to the U.S. for the first time.

Organizers said Wednesday that the event would take place at Radio City Music Hall here on March 4 and feature performances by Coldplay, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Mumford and Sons, Russell Brand, Reggie Watts and others.

“The Secret Policeman’s Ball has a long and hilariously off-color history of using comic genius to fight for free speech and human rights around the world,” said Lily Sobhani, executive producer of the ball. “We are thrilled that the leading lights of comedy and music are coming together to bring the Secret Policeman’s Ball to the United States for the first time.”

An audience of more than 6,000 people is expected to fill Radio City Music Hall for the event, which will help mark Amnesty's 50th anniversary, according to the organizers. Funds raised go to Amnesty. Launched in 1976, the Secret Policeman’s Ball helped pioneer cause-focused benefit concerts.

"I used to think humor was a luxury, but at the last election Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert taught me it was a necessity,” said comedian John Cleese. “The Secret Policeman's Ball was - and is - a coming together of the very best comedy talent of any generation to celebrate their art, remind audiences how important free speech is, and highlight just how much vital work Amnesty International does to protect it. I implore you to support it."

Said Chris Martin of Coldplay: “We have followed and supported Amnesty International - and the amazing work they do around the world in the field of human rights – for years, and it is a pleasure to be asked to contribute to such an inspiring event."

Ticket sales for the event start later this month. The organization is believed to be looking at a possible TV deal for the event, but didn't immediately announce a TV partner.

“Entertainers have used political cartoons, protest songs and straight- out skewering of politicians and leaders to challenge virtually every government’s failure to uphold fundamental rights,” said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA’s new executive director. “We are thrilled that some of the most creative political humorists of our time will perform when
Amnesty International hosts the first Secret Policeman’s Ball in the United States. And on March 4, those of us who can make fun of our government and walk away in safety will dedicate the program to those who cannot.”

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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