September 20, 2001

Entertainment News

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There are several signs normally associated with the coming of fall. The air gets a little cooler, the trees transform into a rich tapestry of golds and reds, and the television networks go for each other’s jugulars.

These are not normal times, however. NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox are planning to air a network-spanning telethon, the first in history, to raise money for relief and recovery efforts in New York City and Washington, D.C. “America: A Tribute to Heroes” will be presented live tomorrow night, from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The networks’ hope is to air it simultaneously on as many broadcast and cable networks as possible. The E! Network has already announced that it will also take part in the simulcast.

Numerous celebrities have already signed on, including George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, the Dixie Chicks, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Calista Flockhart, Tom Hanks, Faith Hill, Billy Joel and Paul Simon.

Clear Airwaves

Clear Channel, the parent company of over 1,100 radio stations nationwide, is at the center of controversy following the release yesterday of a list of songs supposedly banned from the airwaves. Included are songs referring in any way to “war,” “fire,” “airplanes,” “New York,” “Tuesday,” and “September.” Rage Against the Machine is the big winner with ALL of its songs marked for “questionable content,” according to E! News Online.

Other highlights include “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” by U2, “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band, “99 Red Balloons” by Nina, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” by the Beatles, “Benny and the Jets” by Elton John, “Fly” by Sugar Ray, and “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles.

A press release from Clear Channel, however, stated that the songs were not actually banned.

“In the wake of this terrible tragedy, the nation’s business community is responding with a degree of hypersensitivity,” explained Mark P. Mays, President and COO of Clear Channel. “Even some movie companies have altered some of their release schedules in light of the mood in America today. Clear Channel strongly believes in the First Amendment and freedom of speech. We value and support the artist community. And we support our radio station programming staff and management team in their responsibility to respond to their local markets.”

The alleged list can be found online at Personally, I’m staying the hell away from any place that considers Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” offensive.

Oh Brother

CBS is taking flak for its handling of its reality show Big Brother 2 concerning informing their contestants about last week’s events. The show is like The Real World with a rod up its rear: random people are thrown together in a house full of cameras, except in the Big Brother house nobody comes in or out. The cousin of houseguest Monica Bailey is missing, and viewers are voicing their outrage that the participants have not been told more. It’s a serious problem when reality television takes precedence over reality.

There are thousands of people wounded and missing and countless more affected by this tragedy. It’s troubling that some people seem to be losing sight of what’s important. Just remember that you can’t watch T.V., or help those in need, if you can’t see.

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