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VH1 fighting MS with PBS-style fundraiser

VH1 will take a page from the highly successful playbook of PBS and invite viewers to buy gift packages. But instead of supporting the music channel, viewers will be raising funds to fight multiple sclerosis.

Actors Phil Hartman and Lisa Rinna will host the Dec. 19 fundraising effort, with an 800 number being made available for viewers to call and purchase the packages, which feature a Tommy Hilfiger jacket and albums from Celine Dion (“Let’s Talk About Love”), Fleetwood Mac (“The Dance”) and the Eagles (“Hell Freezes Over”).

The sets will also boast a specially created barbell lapel pin designed to symbolize the daily struggle of MS patients. Ticketmaster is donating the telephone line and the operators to answer viewer calls.

The modified pledge drive will buffer the “VH1 and Tommy Hilfiger Present The Race to Erase MS Concert,” the cabler’s one-hour spec created from last month’s gala benefit for research to find a cure for MS.

Musical perfs by Sheryl Crow, No Doubt and Natalie Cole will be incorporated into the celebrity fashion show, which featured A-list actors and supermodels to preview Hilfiger’s latest line.

The fifth annual event, held Nov. 14, raised more than $3 million for the Nancy Davis-created Center Without Walls, a unique collaboration of physicians, scientists and clinicians nationwide combating the disease. The gala was co-sponsored by VH1 and Hilfiger.

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