LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Guy Laliberte, the Canadian billionaire circus entrepreneur, flew into space with a clown nose and an idea that was literally out of this world.
His concept is set to come to fruition on Friday when Laliberte hosts a global performance event from the International Space Station involving singers, dancers and celebrities in 14 cities around the world to highlight the scarcity of clean water for people in many parts of the world.
Celebrities including pop star Shakira, actor Matthew McConaughey, former U.S. Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore and U2 singer Bono will take part with readings and performances via satellite link-up from 14 cities including New York, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Paris, Mumbai, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro and Moscow.
Laliberte, founder of “Cirque du Soleil” and the world’s seventh space tourist, is set to open and close the show from the space station. Called “Moving Stars and Earth for Water,” the two-hour event is billed as the first of its kind to be hosted from space.
“I don’t have 25 years, the world doesn’t have 25 years, to address the situation of water, so I think this was a great opportunity combined with a personal dream, having a greater benefit than just coming to space,” Laliberte, 50, said in a news conference from the space station this week.
Millions of people in developing countries do not have access to clean water, and water-borne illnesses are a persistent problem in many impoverished regions.
Laliberte, a former street performer whose “Cirque du Soleil” entertainment empire has produced more than 19 music and acrobatic shows around the world, arrived at the International Space Station on October 2 -- along with his red clown’s nose -- on a trip that cost him more than $35 million.
The Montreal-based nonprofit One Drop Foundation, which Laliberte launched in 2007, works to increase access to clean water worldwide and bring attention to the issue.
The event at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday (midnight GMT) will be broadcast on satellite TV in the United States, Canada and Latin America and also can be seen on the Internet at www.onedrop.org.
Editing by Will Dunham