'Idol' getting charitable with special

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Fox and its hit series "American Idol" have teamed with the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund on a star-studded two-night special designed to raise awareness and funds for poverty-relief organizations that help children and young people in the U.S. and Africa.

Among the celebrities set to perform during the special, dubbed "Idol Gives Back," are Gwen Stefani, Pink, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Annie Lennox and Il Divo. U2's Bono also is expected to perform, and Sacha Baron Cohen will appear in character as Borat.

During the April 24 episodes, airing from 8-9 p.m., the top six finalists will sing songs about compassion and hope; for every vote cast via phone or text message, "Idol" sponsors Coca-Cola, AT&T and others will donate money to charity. The expanded results show, airing from 8-10 p.m. April 25, will feature the celebrities taking the stage. During that episode, viewers will be able to make their own donations via toll-free lines and the Internet. The Ford Motor Co. also will contribute to the cause in connection with its weekly music video, details of which will be announced soon.

"When we were approached by Richard Curtis (the writer-director who co-founded the U.K.'s Red Nose Day charity), Simon Fuller (creator and executive producer of 'Idol'), Simon Cowell ('Idol' judge) and CPEF about this project, we felt it was a natural fit," News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin said.

Fuller said that he hopes the event is a big success, "allowing us to continue to make these important, world-changing shows for many years to come."

The money raised by the event will equally benefit the U.S. and Africa, aiding such organizations as the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the Global Fund, Save the Children, Nothing but Nets and Malaria No More. "Idol Gives Back" also is providing a link on its Web site (www.americanidol.com/idolgivesback) to One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History.

Said Bono, co-founder of the One campaign, "I wouldn't underestimate the reach of ('Idol') or the impact its audience can have."
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