Hurricane Sandy may be long gone from the Northeast, but millions will be feeling its effects for months, if not years, to come. Many have lost homes, power and their way of life as a result of the hurricane’s destruction, and most of those people need assistance.
In order to help those people in need, NBC Universal will air a live special benefit concert, “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” Friday (November 2) at 8 p.m. ET and the money collected will be donated to the American Red Cross relief efforts.
The special will be hosted by the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer, who told MTV News on Friday that before the nation refocuses their attention on the upcoming presidential election, he wanted to make sure that this unprecedented event was not overlooked. Lauer, who was heavily involved in orchestrating the benefit, said that after visiting Rockaway Beach, Queens, an area that was severely devastated by this storm, and hearing the stories from the victims, he felt that he needed to put the wheels in motion to make sure this benefit aired as soon as possible.
“There’s almost a shock, you see people walking down the street and they shake your hand and they smile, but you know they are not quite themselves. They are in a state of shock,” Lauer said about what he saw when he visited Rockaway Beach. “I had people come up and say, ‘Do the people at FEMA know that we’re in trouble here? Does the mayor know that this neighborhood’s wiped out?’
“So many stories,” Lauer continued. “One guy, who lost a son in 9/11, had a plane crash across the street from his business in 2001 as well, and then lost his business in a fire and flooding this week. So it gets to the point where you start to hear these stories, and you start to wonder how much can people take? And if we can do something like this and pick up the phone and call a couple of really talented people to show up and provide some great entertainment with the idea that people will look at the screen and see that number and call and make a donation, that’s the least we could do.”
“The first phone call I made was Jon, and I called his cell phone, and he picked it up, and he sounded like he was next door, but he was in London,” Lauer said about reaching out to Bon Jovi. “And he said, ‘I’m over here in London and I’m watching. I know what’s happening there.’ There are very few people who are more closely associated with the state of New Jersey than Jon, and before I even finished my question to come, he said, ‘I’m there. No matter what, I’ll get on a plane and get back.’ ”
All of the artists that are performing at Friday’s event have ties to the areas greatly affected by this storm, and according to Lauer, that’s why he enlisted them to help.
“We wanted people that had a visceral connection to this area and almost everybody does,” Lauer said. “You want people who are emblematic of the region that’s been so impacted and all these people are.”
Lauer didn’t want to disclose which songs the artists were performing on Friday, but he did reveal that he will not be joining any of them onstage to show off his musical ability.
“I will open the show and you’ll hear me ask people to go and call 1-800-HELPNOW, and then, as soon as that first chord comes out of that first guitar, you will see me off in the wings,” Lauer said. “[I have] No musical talent.”
“Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together” will also feature appearances by NBC News’ Brian Williams and “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon and will air Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, NBC.com, USA Network, SyFy, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, E!, Style Network, G4 and more. A spokesperson for NBC Universal told the New York Times that channels not owned by the company will also be allowed to broadcast the concert.