Monday night’s “Rise Up New York!” virtual telethon, presented by iHeartMedia and Robin Hood, the city’s largest poverty-fighting organization, raised more than $115 million to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation. The funds from the telethon, which also aired on iHeartMedia and Entercom New York radio stations, will be deployed directly to organizations on the front lines who are providing food, shelter, cash assistance, health and mental health services, along with education and legal services for New Yorkers hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. An audio simulcast was also carried nationally on SiriusXM.
Hosted by Tina Fey, the special include appearances from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Angie Mar, Awkwafina, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chris Rock, Daniel Humm, Danny Meyer, Darryl McDaniels, David Chang, Eli Manning, Fab 5 Freddy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Chastain, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Tuck, Matthew Broderick, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Michael Strahan, Mike D & Ad-Rock, Patti Lupone, Phil Simms, Robert De Niro, Rosie Perez, RZA, Salt-N-Pepa, Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee and Trevor Noah. Musical performances included Alicia Keys, Andrew Rannells, Ben Platt, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Chris Jackson, Cynthia Erivo, Idina Menzel, Karen Olivio, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mariah Carey and Sting.
DeNiro opened the show and immediately invoked the “Rise Up” spirit of the event saying, “Our city is under attack but we've been here before. In the last 20 years – both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. You can take your best shot but you cannot break our spirit.”
Fey addressed the audience from an empty 30 Rockefeller Plaza and reminded New Yorkers how even the smallest donation counts: “If you had breakfast today, you are better off than two million of your neighbors who woke up hungry,” she said.
Musical performances included Carey’s rendition of “Through the Rain/Make It Happen,” Sting performing “Message in a Bottle” and Bon Jovi singing “It's My Life.” Joel closed the show performing “Miami 2017,” with its lyrics “seen the lights go out Broadway/I saw the Empire State laid low” as the Empire State Building debuted a new choreographed light show, that will continue on the iconic building at 9pm each night this week. Joel’s performance was also displayed on more than a dozen of Time Square’s digital billboards.
“Robin Hood's Rise Up New York! benefit was a moment to recognize the incredible resiliency of our fellow New Yorkers, who continue to come together in the fight against this pandemic, culminating in a Billy Joel performance set against the backdrop of the iconic Empire State Building flashing green for Robin Hood,” Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood said in a release.
The nightly light show on the Empire State Building will be accompanied by the playing of the classic Joel track on iHeartMedia classic rock “Q104.3” WAXQ and on the iHeartRadio app.
“iHeartMedia and New York's Q104.3 are proud to partner with ESB and The Robin Hood Foundation to provide the musical backdrop for the lights of ESB moving to the tunes of New York's own Billy Joel's iconic Miami 2017,” Thea Mitchem, Executive VP of Programming for iHeartMedia added. “This is a time when all New Yorkers come together, inspire action, and lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need.”