Whatever happened to Mikhail Gorbachev? The former leader of the Soviet Union has teamed up with the Hollywood star mill to promote something other than glasnost — a massive immunization program for tots worldwide. The celebrity auction/concert/call-in show was taped Wednesday at UCLA, and resulting two-hour special will air on KCAL Sunday at 9 p.m.
Though the moniker “Musicians Unite With Stars to Immunize Children” sounds like the translation of an old Russian joke, Gorby Foundation prez Jim Garrison aptly likened Gorbachev to Gandhi, and rounded up artwork from Peter Max and rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia like a Gibson guitar signed by Foreigner to raise money for the nearly sold-out program.
Some great talent was on hand for the taping of the special, but having Michael W. Smith open with a tune that he and his band lip-synched and air-guitared to playback will have viewers diving for their remote controls before he can finish his squeaky-clean version of “Picture Perfect” and launch into “I Wanna Tell the World.”
Viewers should stick around. Clint Black followed with a pair of numbers he actually performed live, with a band no less: “No Time to Kill,” the title cut from his latest chart-busting LP, and a hauntingly beautiful duet with Wynonna, “A Bad Goodbye.”
Expose’ did a somnambulistic version of “In My Dreams” and T.L.C. introduced Bel Biv Devoe, who had former Sen. Alan Cranston hip-hopping to “She’s Only 16” and “Ghetto Boogie,” waving his hands in the air and singing along with them, “BBD is the place to be.”
The New Maroons lived up to their Bugs Bunny name, featuring Don Was thumping out a bass line, Ringo Starr brushing in the backbeat and Jonelle Mosser doing her best full-throttle Janis imitation on “At the Dark End of the Street.” Was said the band is currently in the studio and planning to tour next year, one hopes with some rehearsal time scheduled before they leave.
Kathy Bates, Shelley Duvall and an effervescent Mimi Rogers intro’d clips on the lack of child immunization worldwide, and various taped messages came in as well. Santana sent a video of their live performance in Caracas, Venezuela, Michael Jackson mailed in his explosive version of “Jam” from his Wembley Arena show and Billy Joel’s footage from his latest tour to Leningrad closed the night.
Most powerful live performances included the richer, more resonant vocals of David Crosby, who sang “Old Soldier” with Marc Cohen and covered two songs from his recent “1,000 Roads” LP, and Wynonna, who wailed on “Only Love.”
Wrapping it up was Bonnie Raitt, whose seven-piece band rocked the house with an in-your-face rousing performance of “Something to Talk About” and the deeply soulful “The Way You Love Me.”