Don’t Worry: We Will Get That Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert We Deserve

What’s a national tragedy without an overlong, saccharine television program full of famous people looking sad about people less fortunate than them? While the lower half of Manhattan is still without power, parts of Staten Island and Queens are disaster areas, and the Jersey Shore is nearly washed away, there’s only one thing that will bring joy to the hearts of those affected by Hurricane Sandy: BILLY JOEL SINGING LIVE ON CAMERA. 

Everyone’s favorite frequent drunk-driving piano man will be just part of the celeb-heavy bill, produced by the good folks at NBC. Per the New York Times:

NBC Universal said on Thursday morning that it would show a one-hour telethon and concert on its broadcast network and cable television stations on Friday night to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The telethon, “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” will be held at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza studios and hosted by Matt Lauer, the co-host of “Today.” Among the musicians who are scheduled to perform on the telethon are Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting and Christina Aguilera; Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC’s “Late Night,” and Brian Williams, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” will also appear.

The telethon will be shown simultaneously on NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy and USA, and streamed live on the NBC.com Web site. It will be broadcast live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time for the East Coast and on a tape delay for the West Coast. NBC said that money collected from the telethon would be donated to the American Red Cross.

Yes, that’s right: if you tune in to Syfy you can still see someone famous sing "God Bless America" while, I dunno, you could be lucky enough to pledge a donation to Julia Roberts on phone duty. EVERYTHING IS SUDDENLY BETTER. I guess it’s a bummer for the regular Syfy audience who’d rather see Tiffany and Deborah Gibson battle a mutant shark or something.

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Jon Bon Jovi Still Wanted

In no way has Jon Bon Jovi lost his chutzpa or his candid sense of humor after 25 years on the road in and out of the popularity slot. And he can still bang out a memorable rock anthem. Last night at Alice Tully Hall/Lincoln Center, American Express presented a special unplugged evening with the Jersey-bred legend. AmEx sold tickets through a Twitter announcement at $50 each (all proceeds were donated to City Harvest via the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation), and the cardmember event sold out in less than day. All attendees were highly encouraged to tweet about the experience to @AmericanExpress. The night began with a clip of Bon Jovi documentary When We Were Beautiful, while the film’s director, Phil Griffin, led a Q & A. Richie and the rest of the band were MIA, but Jon solo was enough presence for the stage and overly enthused fans. Even sans his boys, he played the popular tracks, “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” “Lost Highway,” “Whole Lot of Leavin’,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” And yes, the audience cried. Wept even.

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Things we learned about Jon Bon Jovi:

1. His fans can be crazy; he knows how to deal with them. At one point, a group of girls screamed, “I love you Jon,” to which he casually responded, “Thanks Mom.” Soon after, a male fan expressed his affection to the auditorium and Jon leaned in to the mic and said, “Thanks honey.” Once the floor opened to audience questions, female fanatics used the opportunity to express their adoration, many forgetting to ask a question. The last comment came from a woman with a strong Jersey accent, who said, “I’m sorry because in October of 1986, I kind of blew you off at the Stone Pony when you were trying to talk to me. I didn’t know who you were. I’ve never lived it down, so I just want to officially say I’m sorry.” The rocker laughed and claimed, “There are couple of girls from my high school, who every Christmas, their mothers slap them and say, ‘You coulda had him.’”

2. He doesn’t read his press. “I don’t read the blogs and I don’t read the fan pages, I don’t read any of that stuff on purpose. You guys would be telling me, ‘I don’t like your shoes.’ I’d be very self conscious because I like those shoes … The truth is, if I’m ever going to say something, I can’t let it be based on what other people want me to say. After the first two records, we really, truly realized that the best thing to do was be us, come home, don’t chase anybody else, do your own thing.”

3. Richie and Jon are like Bono and The Edge. “With us, we sit down together. A collaborative effort is truly collaborative. We both play the chords, we both figure out the words, we both write the titles. It seems like the U2 relationship is similar to that. Maybe it’s just my Irish envy. I want to be Irish when I grow up.”

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4. He calls the band’s blue period Slippery in New Jersey. “Back then, Slippery When Wet, our third album, propelled us to a place that was our Thriller, our Like a Virgin. We had had that garage band chip on your shoulders that was like, let me just prove that we can do it again and this isn’t a one-hit wonder. So, we went to Jersey. During a press conference one night, a guy in the audience says, ‘John, why are you here?’ I said to myself, what a stupid question. As I got older, I realized that was the wisest question that anyone had asked me in that era. Had the responsible people around me been more confident in our abilities, they would have said, ‘Go home. Enjoy this. Go to sleep for a year.’ It exhausted us. It almost killed us. We’ve all seen a lot of bands break up at that time when real success hits like that.”

5. He knows that he’s going to be remembered for “Livin’ on a Prayer” and he’s okay with it. “Livin on a Prayer is going to be in my obituary some day.”