NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Television singing talent show "American Idol" proved its clout as a U.S. cultural phenomenon on Wednesday by raising more than $30 million for young people in Africa and the United States.
A two-hour show filled with inspirational songs, movie, television and music stars and stories of poverty from Africa and the United States rounded off the two-night special.
"People say you can't be the generation that ends brutal, stupid poverty, but we can and we will," Bono, U2's lead singer and leading spokesman for the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History, said in a prerecorded segment.
"I have been in front of 70,000 people here in L.A. and its a pretty amazing feeling. I can't think of any feeling better except perhaps the feeling that you can save somebody's life and there is not one person watching this program tonight who cannot save a life," he said.
The six Idol contestants closed the "Idol Gives Back" show with "American Prayer" -- the song written by Bono and Dave Stewart some years ago about the AIDS emergency in Africa.
The show's contestants received more than 70 million votes -- a new record and almost double last week's 38 million -- but the so-called "shocking" result promoted by host Ryan Seacrest was that none of the remaining six contestants were voted off.
Each vote cast by viewers via text and telephone triggered an undisclosed donation to charities by the corporate sponsors of "Idol" -- Ford, Coca-Cola and AT&T. News Corp., which owns the Fox TV network, donated $5 million after the vote tally hit 50 million.
Viewers were also invited to phone in donations that will go to Save the Children, UNICEF, Malaria No More, The Global Fund and Nothing But Nets for youth relief programs in Africa and poverty-hit areas of the United States, including hurricane ravaged Louisiana.
Throughout the show Seacrest regularly crossed to comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres at a concert she hosted at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles for musical performances by stars such as opera group Il Divo, Annie Lennox and former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. DeGeneres herself donated $100,000.
Stars prerecorded appeals for donations, including Madonna, who was in Malawi -- the African nation where she adopted her son David -- and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, who was in Uganda where he filmed "The Last King of Scotland."
Once dismissed as a cheesy summer talent contest, Fox network's "American Idol" has become the nation's most watched TV show with an average of 30 million viewers.
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