Star Unite to Raise Money for Hurricane Victims
September 1, 2005

Americans everywhere have felt pain as they watch the horrifying images of Hurricane Katrina's destruction. But to stars from the Gulf Coast, the disaster hit home in a very personal way.

Harry Connick Jr. appeared on "The Today Show" from his hometown of New Orleans. And the star watched in horror as NBC ran exclusive video of the raging waters from the storm. "To see it being drowned like this is almost unbearable," Connick Jr. admitted.

So the music sensation is doing something about it. He's teaming up with Wynton Marsalis, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tim McGraw to perform on an NBC telethon to raise money for the victims. The telethon will air Friday night at 8 p.m.

"It's heartbreaking to watch," said Tim McGraw, a Louisiana native who called Thursday morning by satellite. "But it's certainly not as tough as for the people who are in the middle of it."

McGraw told us his family is doing well, but he's begging everyone to help those less fortunate. "Cash is king right now," he insisted. "We need to get money to people who are homeless and to help get people fed."

Meanwhile, Ellen DeGeneres has cut a series of public service announcements, looking for donations to the American Red Cross. She will also use her show to help raise money. "I have family in Mississippi who has lost everything," DeGeneres revealed. "There are millions of lives, which hang in the balance as the scope of Hurricane Katrina's damage grows."

To do his part, Chris Rock will participate in a BET concert telethon a week from Friday. "How can you not be affected?" Rock asked. "I mean, I'm a father. It's the worst disaster that we'll ever see."

CBS "Early Show" co-anchor Hannah Storm explained to "Extra" exactly why this disaster has been so tough for her to report on. "When I was a little girl I lived in Louisville, Kentucky, and most of our town got destroyed by a tornado," she revealed. "I still remember the pain and the hurt of that. My entire neighborhood was devastated, and a lot of those feelings have come rushing back."

And "Today" co-host Matt Lauer revealed that this has been one of the toughest stories he's worked on. "It's hard to keep your composure, but you try to," he admitted. "And you try to tell the story to the people affected."

"Early Show" Executive Producer Michael Bass revealed that the work out in the field is very dangerous as well. "Some of our producers in New Orleans are women," he said. "They've told our single women, 'Don't go out by yourself.' There are a lot of crowds. It's really not that safe."

Now these stars will use their celebrity status to urge all Americans to give money and do whatever it takes to ease the victims' heartbreak and suffering. If you'd like to donate, click here for more information.

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