It’s pretty surprising to see two grown men used to being in the spotlight get giddy in the presence of greatness. But when these men are NBC News anchor Brian Williams and “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart — two of New Jersey’s finest — and the man they’re introducing is arguably the Garden State’s most beloved icon, their reaction added even more resonance to the moving finale of Friday night’s one-hour televised benefit, "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together."
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band provided a rousing tribute to the superstorm’s victims with a performance of "Land of Hope and Dreams." True fans of the Boss know that despite its title, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” from his 1973 album “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, just wouldn’t have been appropriate under the circumstances.
Reminiscent of “The Concert for 9/11” a few days after the terrorist attacks, the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer gets credit for putting together a stellar list of artists to perform on short notice to raise money for the American Red Cross — which resulted in donations to the tune of $23 million, the organization announced over the weekend.
In contrast to the E Street Band’s full-on electric performance, most of the artists, including Christina Aguilera, Sting, Billy Joel, Mary J Blige and Jon Bon Jovi, performed acoustic or stripped-down versions of their songs.
There were a few light moments, as when Jimmy Fallon sang lead vocals on "Under the Boardwalk" with Joel on piano and Springsteen as a backup singer. Or when Williams joked about growing up as a short Jewish kid in New Jersey. No, wait, that was supposed to be Stewart’s schtick.
Bon Jovi, another favorite son of Jersey, was shown in a taped segment visiting and commiserating with storm victims in his old haunts, before performing a haunting version of “Living on a Prayer.”
Images of the storm’s far-reaching destruction were interspersed throughout the show, broadcast from NBC’s Rockefeller Center studios and aired on NBCUniversal broadcast and cable networks and on HBO, commercial-free.
Now it’s ABC’s turn today to solicit funds for the Red Cross throughout all of its news programs, from "Good Morning America" to "Nightline." Viewers can visit RedCross.org, call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Here’s a clip of one of the NBC show’s highlights: