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Stars, networks unite for victims telethon

(CNN) -- In perhaps the most cooperative broadcasting effort ever, at least 27 television networks and dozens of radio stations aired the live special "America: A Tribute to Heroes" Friday. The show was a star-studded benefit for victims of last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Among the broadcast networks that participated were ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, Fox, UPN, The WB, Pax TV, Univision and Telemundo.

Several cable outlets also signed on, including HBO, Showtime, TNT, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, E!, Lifetime, BET, BET Jazz, Fox Family, FX, Court TV, Discovery, TLC, TNN, and the Sundance Channel.

CNN's Lauren Sydney has more on the star-studded telethon for the victims of the terrorist attacks (September 21)

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Official website: America: A Tribute to Heroes  

A number of Westwood One and Clear Channel Communications radio affiliates across the United States also simulcasted the special. Yahoo! supplied a live Internet broadcast.

The show aired from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Central and Mountain. It was originated in both New York and Los Angeles. There was no live audience, and organizers refused to say where the events were being held for security reasons.

The lineup for "America: A Tribute to Heroes" included some of the biggest names in show business.

The roster included: Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, the Dixie Chicks, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Wyclef Jean, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Julia Roberts, Paul Simon, Will Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.

The performance by Mariah Carey was the singer's first since she suffered a nervous breakdown in late July. She sang the song "Hero."

Rare cooperation

Though it's rare that several television networks broadcast the same program simultaneously, it's not unprecedented.

During World War II, The Associated Press reports, the CBS and NBC radio networks produced a Christmas Eve 1942 entertainment special with several noted stars of the day that was broadcast widely across the country.

In 1953, the Ford Motor Co. produced a 50th anniversary show with Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman and Edward R. Murrow that was broadcast simultaneously on ABC, NBC and CBS.

And in 1967, the first Super Bowl game was broadcast on both NBC and CBS. The former network had the rights to AFL games; the latter handled the NFL.

Regular programming on other networks

Not everybody participated.

ESPN's four networks -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNews -- ran regularly scheduled sports programming. Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel also stuck with their usual schedules.

"Our point of view has been, and continues to be, that Nick should be a safe haven for kids to see their normal entertainment programs," spokesman Dan Martinsen told the AP.

HBO's sister channel, Cinemax, also aired regular programming.

The United Way's September 11 Fund has been designated to receive the funds raised from the benefit.

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