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Benefit Not Intended to 'Shelter' Politics

While the executive producer of Friday night’s Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast, says the show will only edit out of a star’s comments if they contain obscenities, a 30-second delay does give individual networks the chance to edit out any political asides on the order of Kanye West’s appearance on last week’s NBC telethon.

In that show, West went off script to criticize the government's relief effort and said President George W. Bush didn't care about black people. NBC left the comments in. West is also slated for an appearance on the Friday broadcast.

Joel Gallen said Thursday the show will be aired on a 30-second delay that is “standard” for these types of broadcasts.

“The delay is not to be used and will not be used for any of those kind of remarks,” he said, referring to politically-charged commentary, though he doesn't expect there to be any. “It’s purely for the accidental obscenity or things like that that are normal that networks normally take precautions for for all live broadcasts.”

Gallen, who will be directing the bi-coastal show from Los Angeles, said he had spoken to or will speak to everyone scheduled to appear to express his desire for them to channel their thoughts through their performances.

“Everybody is in the same spirit of what this evening is about which is to raise as much money as possible for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army and the victims of the hurricane,” he said. “I think people know that politicizing will certainly not be a smart thing to do as far as inspiring people to want to call in and rally around this cause.”

“I am confident that that is not an issue,” he added. “But it is obviously a good question since it did happen on the NBC show, but it is not a concern.”

CBS Spokesman Chris Ender seconded Gallen on the issue of politics: “We don't expect or want this to be a platform for political statement. People across this industry have shed their day jobs over the past week for the sole purpose of raising the most amount of dollars possible for those in need. Anything that takes away from getting the most amount of dollars to people affected in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama would be very unfortunate."
The commercial-free, hour-long show will in many ways resemble the post 9/11 telethon, which Gallen also oversaw. He says stars will not be introduced or identified, and he will have up to six pre-produced packages available for airing, all driven by music as opposed to voiced over.

Viewers who call in to donate will be given the option to give either to the American Red Cross or to The Salvation Army, and a segment of the show will be devoted to explaining specifically how the funds will be used - a question that arose following the 9/11 event.--Jim Benson contributed to this report.