"American Idol": Give Till It Hurts Your Agent
Last year's "Idol Gives Back" fundraiser was so successful the number of celebu-saints wanting to jump on the Do-Gooder Wagon skyrockets to nearly 70, forcing Fox to start the show 30 minutes before prime time, just to fit them all into what turns out to be a 152-minute celebu-thon.
They fall into two categories -- the Caring (real or well-performed) and the Clueless.
Many made only the briefest and most straightforward of appearances, urging viewers to call the phone number on the screen to make a donation that would be given to children's charities at home and abroad. NASCAR champ Jimmy Johnson, George Lopez, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler's dog, some of the cast of a "High School Musical," even WWE performers, with videos of them flexing their inhumanly big muscles playing behind them. Mary Murphy mixes things up a bit, offering to scream her head off until we pick up the phone and make a pledge. Which she then does. Way too long.
California first lady Maria Shriver wants to believe "American Idol" viewers know who Gandhi is. She used his gag about us being the change we want to see in this world in her celebu-thon kickoff speech, surrounded by more than 100 volunteers. Sadly, "Idol" producers thought it would be great to play "Maria" from "West Side Story" as she walked on stage. Happily, that song has never been covered by Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, so the irony will be lost on most "Idol" viewers.
It doesn't matter if we can't sing, Shriver tells us -- we can serve "and acts of service are the stuff real idols are made of," she says.
Ben Stiller says his Whitney Houston cover CD -- "Stiller Whips Whitney's [Heinie] for Charity" -- lost $3.2 million for "Idol Gives Back" so now he wants us to cough up a "googillion" dollars. He says, he knows that sounds crazy but "isn't that what 'American Idol' is all about -- convincing crazy people they can be on television?" Geesh, this is going to be a tough night for the Idolettes, who are back at the "Idol" studio manning phone lines to take pledge calls.
Jennifer Connelly stars in a video about collecting filthy water in empty diesel fuel cans and serving it to children. Snoop Dogg and Charlie Wilson sing about not being able to say goodbye to the 'hood while trying to get the audience to wave their hands or clap -- apparently without success, judging by the number of times they ask.
"Idol" judge Paula Abdul takes the stage to talk about the number of obese children in America while standing next to judge Randy Jackson, who has put back on much of the weight he lost when he had his stomach stapled.
On the flip side, nearly anorexic Teri Hatcher faux-scolds "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, who's on the floor with Hatcher's pretend plumber/boyfriend James Denton, who's trying to fix Underwood's sink. This is by way of explaining why Hatcher then sings an Underwood tune, backed up by Denton's Band From TV.
Miley Cyrus -- the new Britney -- is the evening's Queen of Cluelessness. She spends what seems like hours in a lame comedy bit with Billy Crystal -- the new Jack Benny -- the point of which is that she is really young and he is really old and she is really famous, with not one CD but two -- "and I was so excited they both made it to Number 1 which was soooo cool!" Plus, she notes her movie was No. 1 at the box office, while Crystal was in flicks that are so old she wasn't even born then, like "When Harry Met Sally."
Crystal does manage to get in one searing crack about how she's wearing Liberace's jacket, but, of course, she has no idea who Liberace is. If you tell a joke and the person it's directed at doesn't get the insult, did it really happen?
"How long have you dreamed to sing on 'American Idol'?" Crystal asks.
"Forever! This was the ONE thing I haven't had the chance to do yet," says Miley. Jaded, at 15.
Miley then begins to sing and fling her big hair and leaps about the stage after which she admonishes her tweener fan base, "We can't just leave this up to our parents" and directs them to cough up their allowance.
Not be outdone, Fergie writhes and does actual cartwheels on stage in black rubber pants while singing "Barracuda" with Heart.
Victoria Beckham wants you to know she and her husband, David, have "enjoyed success in many countries," which brings her around nicely to the many, many people in the world who have not enjoyed success in even a single country -- millions of whom need our financial help. David pitches in and, once again, ruins all our fantasies about him with his high-pitched voice.
Annie Lennox is too old to try cartwheels or black rubber pants. She made a video about four more victims of the AIDS pandemic in Africa -- young brothers who have lost all their adult relatives. We see her in the video, clearly wrung out by the experience. Cut to Lennox on stage in a touching performance of "Many Rivers to Cross."
Celine Dion, last seen on "Idol" dueting with Dead Elvis, doesn't try to top that; she simply appears in a video from South Africa.
Jimmy Kimmel wants some of the money raised tonight to be set aside to buy "Idol" judge Simon Cowell a shirt that fits and hides his man breasts, which Kimmel says, look like the Olsen twins.
Kimmel's girlfriend, satirist Sarah Silverman, thanks ExxonMobil, which will never happen again in my lifetime or yours. ExxonMobil is one of the show's sponsors.
Reese Witherspoon marvels that "when 'Idol Gives Back' asked me to particiapte tonight I didn't hesitate for a moment."
Forest Whitaker appears in a video about a little girl who nearly died of malaria when a $10 mosquito net might have prevented it, after which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appears via satellite from 10 Downing Street to say his country is pledging to buy 20 million nets.
The studio audience is not very good at math and Brown's announcement doesn't get much of a rise out of them. So show host Ryan Seacrest -- the new Jerry Lewis -- explains it means the PM has just pledged $200 million. The audience roars its approval.
Look, Miley is back for more "Miley Gives Back"! Only this time she's added a Lolita-ish come-hither look to her routine. Then she takes us on a video trip with Dad Billy Ray to a poor area of Kentucky. Miley's been stripped of her hair extensions and makeup and is dowdied up for the visit.
Robin Williams's bit as the winner of "Russian Idol" is indescribably painful: "My father won 'Anti-American Idol' in 1978."
Rob Schneider tells us we may think Bono has enough money to fix "whatever is going on in Africa" but apparently Bono has "only half, which is why we need your help... also feel free to send some money to me."
Tyra Banks says nothing is more fierce than giving back.
The show's nearly over. Time to bring out the royalty. Mr. Angelina Jolie. Head-scratchingly, "Idol" producers decide David Spade should introduce Brad Pitt. The audience gives Pitt a standing ovation; he's lost his microphone. A female producer walks on stage to reclip it to him and makes a crack about just needing a reason to touch him. Pitt's embarrassed. Turns out, Pitt is here to -- introduce former Idolette Chris Daughtry?
Daughtry went to Uganda with his band, Daughtry. See Daughtry help an AIDS-stricken women to her feet. See Daughtry teach little children to sing a refrain from their song. See Daughtry hold the children's hands. See the children cling to Daughtry's arms.
Mariah Carey is next. She's unusually clothing non-challenged a she belts and trills and high-pitches her way through her number about flying like a bird.
Seacrest declines to tell us how much has been raised, but does let us know the phone lines, which he'd said earlier were jammed -- just like on "Idol" performance nights -- will "stay open." Out come the Idolettes, all dressed in white, to wrap things up with an inspirational song.
Ben Stiller walks onto an empty "Idol" stage, wondering whether they've reached a googillion dollars yet. When he realizes everyone's gone home, he begins to mutter expletives at Seacrest, which are bleeped and his mouth pixelated. Call me crazy but it seems an odd way to wrap up a charity fundraiser.
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