Stars Give Money, Plan Telethons to Help Hurricane Victims
September 2, 2005

Sadness and grief is turning into anger and outrage in New Orleans. And a visibly shaken Harry Connick Jr., a New Orleans native, appeared Friday morning on the "Today" show, where he told Katie Couric that more should be done to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"It seems awfully strange to me that people are dying because they don't have water," Connick Jr. said on the show. "People are desperate. They are dying. They've got no help. They don't know that help is out there."

NBC will do its part in helping those devastated by the storm, and "Extra" was there as the network prepared for its primetime telethon Friday night at 8. Harry Connick Jr. and Tim McGraw will perform; Leonardo DiCaprio will take part and the "Today" show's Matt Lauer will host.

"Having a chance to host this with these great entertainers, these celebrities, it's an honor," Lauer insisted. "But it's also a challenge because we've got a job to do, and we hope to do it well."

Meanwhile, many stars are stepping up to help out. Jay-Z and Diddy teamed up to donate $1 million, and Nicolas Cage and Celine Dion have each donated $1 million out of their own pockets.

"We wanted to give a million dollars to these people to help them, but it doesn't end there," Dion promised. "This is just the beginning. Everybody should help as much as they can."

And one star who is just happy to be alive is legendary rock n roll pioneer Fats Domino. The 77-year-old singer, best known for songs like "'Aint Rhat a Shame" and "Blueberry Hill," was rescued after he got caught in the storm.

Larry King will host a three-hour special on Saturday called "How You Help," and Ellen DeGeneres will kick off her new season Monday with a plea for donations.

"Extra" got a copy of Ellen's Monday show, in which DeGeneres emotionally describes why this story has hit her so hard. "You may or may not know this, but New Orleans is my hometown," DeGeneres says. "My friends and my family have lost everything."

And while Ellen admitted that she felt down before the show, she said someone special gave her all the motivation she needed to go in front of the cameras. "My mother in the dressing room, before we came out here, was upset and saying how horrible this all is and the news is devastating, and she said, It's so important to laugh, and so you better be funny.'"


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