Show business has not always been known for its straight talk, its selflessness, or its disregard for the bottom line. But that was before Sept. 11.
By far the most financially impressive example of giving has been the all-network telethon that took place last Friday. In the end, 59.3 million viewers tuned in to one of 31 channels and ponied up a staggering $150 million.
But several more personal, less publicized showbiz stories have surfaced in the past few weeks, which, no doubt, represent just a tip of the ice berg.
Steve Buscemi, who was a member of NYFD Company 55 prior to becoming as a thesp, suited up and joined his old unit at Ground Zero, where he helped clear debris and search for survivors.
Denis Leary, who from 1980-85 was also a member of New York’s Bravest, has established Leary Firefighters Foundation, which will provide financial aid to the families of the firemen who were lost.
Tim Robbins, who shares a Chelsea residence with longtime companion Susan Sarandon, was in Los Angeles on Sept. 11 when he received word of the attacks. The next morning, Robbins and a friend drove 3,000 miles non-stop to New York, where they immediately volunteered in the kitchen of the Javits Convention Center.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe was just blocks from the site at the time of the attack when he encountered a distraught woman covered in soot. Stipe promptly called the woman’s mother from his cell phone to let her know that her daughter was safe.
Daniel-Day Lewis, another downtowner, donated blood immediately.
Kathleen Turner helped victims at St. Vincent’s hospital in Greenwich Village.
Tribeca Films co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, who along with the Weinstein brothers helped establish Lower Manhattan as the unofficial capital of the New York film community, came up with what was surely one of the most luxurious examples of utilitarian aid in history.
The duo, whose offices are a stone’s throw from some of Gotham’s top eateries, rented a pair of 500-seat cruise ships (dubbed “The Spirit of New York I and II”) and treated exhausted rescue workers to hot meals from Manhattan’s top chefs, including Don Pintabona (TriBeCa Grill), Daniel Boulud (Daniel), Jean-George Vongerichten (Jean-Georges, Vong) and others.