I’m hoping that in a genuine display of moral and corporate responsibility, the entertainment industry can somehow pull together and consolidate efforts to raise both spirits and tens of millions of dollars to help those in the business impacted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The monetary losses for studios, networks, streamers and Broadway continue to mount at unprecedented levels and at breakneck speed because of the abrupt shutdown of movie and Broadway theaters, concert venues and film and television productions. But it is the significant human toll on those whose jobs are left in jeopardy that needs to be foremost in the hearts and minds of employers across the industry.
Ten days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there was a celebrity telethon and benefit concert, dubbed America: A Tribute to Heroes and featuring appearances by 21 artists, including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder, that aired simultaneously as a two-hour primetime TV special on all broadcast networks and dozens of cable outlets. The musical performances were filmed at studios in Los Angeles, New York and London. The telethon — in which a host of celebrities, including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Lucy Liu, participated — raised more than $200 million and was donated to the United Way’s September 11th Telethon Fund.
The enormous endeavor helped bring a collective sense of solidarity, mourning and hope to the participants and to viewers. It also brings to mind the massive emotional impact that the 1985 multiplatinum charity single and music video “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian, and performed by other leading artists, had when it was released to raise money for African famine relief.
But sadly, the physical feats of both those amazing undertakings predated the coronavirus pandemic, which precludes live gatherings of that sort.
Surely the many creative forces in entertainment will be able to come up with some alternative inspirational ways to unite us all through the arts in this time of social isolation, when we can’t venture out to the movies, or go hear live music, or watch a play for God knows how long.