LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Canadian teen idol Justin Bieber and Sir Elton John will headline a TV charity fund-raiser next week organized by “American Idol” but the event will be scaled down in a nod to hard economic times, organizers said on Thursday.
Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, the Black Eyed Peas, Annie Lennox and Mary J. Blige are also among performers giving their time to “Idol Gives Back” on April 21, which will raise money for U.S. and international charities working with children, the poor and on health issues.
“Idol Gives Back”, which will draw on the 25 million-plus audience that watches the “American Idol” singing competition, raised more than $140 million in 2008 and 2007 but was not held last year because of the recession.
Executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said that with Americans still struggling, expectations for Wednesday’s show on the Fox network are lower.
“This time it is much more low key. Whatever people can donate will be great,” she told reporters.
In the past, money raised by “Idol Gives Back” has been split equally between charities working in the U.S. and Africa.
“This year we are a bit more weighted to domestic causes because. We feel it is an American show. It has been a very very tough couple of years in this country and it is only fair that we focus on U.S. causes as well as some big international causes,” Frot-Coutaz said.
Elton John will perform on behalf of his AIDS Foundation to raise money and awareness of HIV/AIDS. Other charities that will benefit from the fund-raiser include Malaria No More, Feeding America, the Children’s Health Fund and the United Nations Foundation.
Most of the performances in the two-hour TV special will be live. The one by Bieber, 16, whose album is currently top of the U.S. album charts, was recorded in advance for scheduling reasons. Actors Jim Carrey and Jonah Hill are among those appearing in comedy sketches.
The “Idol Gives Back” show will also include the weekly results for the main “American Idol” contest and one contestant will be eliminated at the end of the live program.
In a new feature, fans have been bidding online for the chance to meet British judge Simon Cowell, a pair of sneakers autographed by judge Ellen DeGeneres, and a private voice lesson with judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi.
Cowell’s item was leading the pack on Thursday with a bid of $18,600.
Former “American Idol” contestants will be featured visiting nonprofit groups working throughout the United States and in regions of Africa.
“It is all about raising awareness. Until you go there and see celebrities go into these places, you don’t always realize what is out there, even in this country, in terms of poverty,” Frot-Coutaz said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte