Whether the cause was 9/11 or genocide in the Sudan, George Clooney has extended a helping hand to those in need during times of trouble. Now, the actor hopes to pass along that compassion and call to action to Americans as they watch "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief," which airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
"I think it's the same message that everybody does, that churches do, that communities do — which is everybody participate, help out, whatever way you can," Clooney told MTV News in Los Angeles on Thursday (January 21) during rehearsals for the star-studded telethon. "If it's clothing, give clothing. This is designed for money. And it can be anything. Five bucks — it can be anything, whatever way you can help out, but be involved. It's a big world out there, and we all have a lot of responsibility to look out for people that can't look out for themselves."
Clooney partnered with MTV Networks for the event, which will feature the actor leading the affair on the West Coast, while Wyclef Jean and CNN's Anderson Cooper appear in New York and Haiti, respectively. The actor has a history of taking the reins in situations like this, having had a hand in putting together benefits in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. For "Hope for Haiti Now," the production began when Wyclef contacted Clooney the same day as the earthquake affected the country and came together the next morning through a call to the MTV Networks CEO.
Within hours, Clooney said, the charitable endeavor took on a life of its own.
"I was in New York the evening it happened. It happened at four or five o'clock, and I got a message from Wyclef that he's gonna go into the Dominican Republic and that it was much worse than what's initially been reported," Clooney explained. "We knew it was bad, but who knew how bad. And he said, 'Is there anything you can do?' So the next morning, I woke up and called Judy McGrath at MTV, and Judy said, 'We were thinking about doing something too,' so I said, 'Let's do it.' And I flew back to L.A., and as soon as I landed we got the other networks involved. And now it's every major network, every single one. At some point, it got to a place [when] you couldn't be the network that didn't [join in]."
As the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake stretches into its second week, more and more organizations are in need of financial donations over canned goods, clothing and the like. Money is needed to buy the proper materials that can ensure the safety and recovery of the survivors in Haiti. Clooney is adamant that this telethon's main goal is to raise cash.
"Just first and foremost that we can raise a lot of money," he said of the desired result. "If I thought that we could all pick up shovels and go in there and not be in the way, I think a lot of people would do that."
Since that's not the case at the moment, Clooney is hoping for a big financial push as a result of the production. "Raise money, period," he said. "That's it."
Learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV's "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon, airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET and visit HopeForHaitiNow.org or call (877) 99-HAITI to make a donation now.