How do you raise 70 million dollars for humanitarian charities in one week? One answer is to present your appeal to American Idol viewers. Then get corporate sponsors to pay a donation every time viewer calls in a vote for their favorite singer. That’s exactly what the popular reality TV show American Idol did earlier this week. The special episode was part charity infomercial, part star-studded telethon and of course part talent show. In the end, it seemed to achieve its goal of raising millions for charity.
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of all the hype Ryan Seacrest and company churned out leading up to the big show. It all seemed a bit contrived. I wondered how they were going to raise donations and exactly where the money would go. Call me crazy, but I just wasn’t buying the sincerity of Simon Cowl interacting with rural African children with all the warmth of a beauty queen waving from atop a parade float. In another clip, we see Simon Cowl amazed to see a food bank passing out groceries. He says something about never knowing such facilities existed in the U.S. I’m amazed that Simon lives such a sheltered, elite life that he is unaware of such things.
Okay so Simon, Paula, and Randy are not going to win me over by their “heart-warming” personal appeals. However, the simplicity of helping others by making a few phone calls is wonderfully attractive. In fact, during the extravaganza my wife, Julie, had a good suggestion. Instead of providing a toll-free number for Idol voters each week, give out a toll number. Millions of viewers could vote for their favorites, at a few cents per call, week after week and we quickly and easily generate millions for the needy. After all, Idol viewers are already willing to text in entries to weekly contests on the show for 99 cents per call.
Regardless of your opinion of reality TV, I think we can all agree that it would be brilliant to tap into the potential wealth that could be generated as viewers across the country vote for their favorite singers or dancers.