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[09/15/05 - 12:00 AM]
ABC Sports, ESPN Join National Football League for "Hurricane Relief Weekend" Telethon on Monday, SepT. 19

[via press release from ABC]

ABC SPORTS, ESPN JOIN NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOR "HURRICANE RELIEF WEEKEND" TELETHON ON MONDAY, SEPT. 19

Robin Roberts and Chris Berman to Host

Telethon to Be Part of Rare Primetime NFL Doubleheader

ABC Sports and ESPN are joining the National Football League for an unprecedented NFL fundraising telethon on MONDAY, SEPT. 19 to benefit the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America and ESPN's Chris Berman will co-host the telethon, beginning at 7:30 p.m., ET and throughout the games from ABC's Times Square studio in New York City.

Among the current and Hall of Fame NFL players who will participate in answering phone calls and accepting pledges are Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson, Steve Largent, Ronnie Lott, Chad Pennington and Bart Starr. ABC's Regis Philbin will also visit the studio telethon. During the telecasts, other ABC celebrities and ESPN commentators will be involved.

Donations will benefit the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund (www.bushclintonkatrinafund.org), which former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton are leading. The fund serves as an umbrella organization for three special funds established by the governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to assist in the long-term recovery plan for those states.

The telethon will culminate the NFL's "Hurricane Relief Weekend" (Sept. 18-19), and elements of the event will be incorporated throughout the primetime NFL doubleheader on ABC Sports and ESPN that evening -- New Orleans Saints-New York Giants (7:30 p.m.) and Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys (9 p.m.).

The Saints-Giants game -- which moved from the Louisiana Superdome to Giants Stadium in the aftermath of the hurricane - kicks-off at 7:30 p.m. on ABC with a taped interview with the former Presidents. The New Orleans and New York television markets will see the game in its entirety on ABC. The rest of the country will see the regularly scheduled Redskins-Cowboys Monday Night Football game at 9 p.m. on ABC, while also having the option to watch the conclusion of the Saints-Giants telecast on ESPN. Viewers with cable programming will have the choice of watching either game on ABC or ESPN. The telethon will continue on both ABC and ESPN until the conclusion of the second game.

"We appreciate the leadership of ABC and ESPN in helping us turn this particular Monday night into far more than a primetime football doubleheader, making it part of the overall Gulf Coast relief effort," said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

ESPN and ABC Sports President, and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, George Bodenheimer said: "This telethon, the NFL, our people, our media assets across Disney - are all coming together to rebuild for those who have lost so much. It's great football, and more important, it's helping people."

Jamie Reynolds, ESPN senior coordinating producer, who will oversee the telethon production, added, "This is one of our more technical undertakings, with up to four network feeds and maintaining the telethon throughout each telecast. Our goal is to navigate the network feeds and integrate the telethon, ultimately serving the fan with both the games as well as driving donations to this worthy cause."

During the NFL Kickoff Weekend, ESPN's Sunday Night Football and ABC's Monday Night Football included special mentions of the planned "Hurricane Relief Weekend" telecast. The telethon will be promoted across ABC and ESPN's multimedia assets, including the television networks, ESPN and ABC Radio, ABC Owned stations, ESPN.com and abc.com, and ESPN The Magazine.

ESPN will provide viewers with the telethon call-in number and other details beginning Sunday morning with Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. ABC's Good Morning America and LIVE! with Regis & Kelly will also highlight the telethon during their Monday shows. The NFL will promote the event throughout its "Hurricane Relief Weekend" across its multimedia platforms.

About Disney's relief efforts
The Walt Disney Company donated $2.5 million to the relief and rebilding efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina: $1 million dollars was donated to the American Red Cross for immediate relief efforts, $1 million dollars was designated for rebuilding efforts targeted at children's charities and $500,000 went to volunteer centers providing services to the communities affected by the hurricane. On top of many other company-wide outreach initiatives, Disney characters have visited children and families and the company has sent books, televisions, DVD players, videos and games to shelters to make this difficult time a little bit brighter.





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