You've probably noticed a lot of photos lately of celebrities wearing red clown noses.
It's all part of an effort to bring attention to "Red Nose Day," which started in Britain in 1988 to raise money for poverty-stricken children in the UK and Africa. This year, the fund-raiser has extended to the United States, where NBC is airing a three-hour special Thursday night.
What is it?It's sponsored by Comic Relief UK, an organization founded after the 1985 Live Aid concert. (It helped inspire -- but has no other relation to -- the American telethon started by Bob Zmuda and long hosted by Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal.) The British event is held every two years. There are also Red Nose Days in Finland, Germany and Iceland.
How has it done?According to the Red Nose Day website, it's raised more than £78 million (about $122 million at current exchange rates).
Why is it just coming to the United States? Part charity and part business, according to accounts. Variety reported that NBC executive Paul Telegdy used to work for the BBC, which has aired Red Nose Day events since the late '80s. He's seen the power of the event in Britain for raising money for a good cause.
But it's also an opportunity to raise awareness of the NBCUniversal brand networks, he added.
"Live events are really, really important to this company. And this is one of those times when you get to do something that is great entertainment but also really stands for something," he said.
For his part, writer and director Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Love, Actually"), who co-founded the event, is thrilled.
"For many years, I have dreamt of bringing Red Nose Day to the US, and I am so excited that we have teamed up with NBC, who will do such a brilliant job on this," he said on the Red Nose Day website. "Experience has taught me how extraordinarily compassionate and generous Americans can be, and I've lived my life in awe of American comedy talent. So putting those two things together will, I hope, create an amazing event that will really make a massive difference to the lives of millions of children and their families in the US and in the poorest countries around the world."
What charities are involved? They include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, the National Council of La Raza and the United Way.
Red Nose Day Facts
Red Nose Day is a biennial telethon broadcast fundraising event for people to act silly while raising money for charities. It began in 1988 as a broadcast to raise money by Comic Relief. Comic Relief is an organization that launched in 1985 to raise money to address poverty and social injustice throughout the world through the use of comedy and laughter. The event is held every two years as a U.K fundraising event, and it encourages people to wear a red nose and act silly to help raise money. On red Nose Day the BBC One broadcasts comedy and documentary films, bringing the U.K. together to address poverty and injustice in Africa and in the U.K.
Interesting Red Nose Day Facts:
The first broadcast by the charity Comic Relief took place on Christmas Day on BBC One, from the Sudan in a refugee camp.
In 1988 Comic Relief broadcast the first Red Nose Day. It is held in March every two years.
Issues covered by Red Nose Day in Africa include HIV and AIDS education, literacy, immunization, and community rebuilding.
Issues covered by Red Nose Day in the U.K. include discrimination and prejudice against disabled people, rights of older people, and domestic violence escape routes for women.
Every pound (U.K. money) raised goes to helping others. The charity itself is run by donations, and by volunteers so money donated for Red Nose Day events is spent on helping others.
The mission of Comic Relief is to drive positive change through the use of entertainment.
Comic Relief's founders were Alexander Mendes and Richard Curtis. Richard Curtis is a screenwriter. He wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary (and the sequel), The No. 1 Detective Agency, and One Night with Robbie Williams. They started the charity in response to the famine that was occurring in Ethiopia.
The first Red Nose Day event raised a whopping 15 million pounds. In 2009 the event raised 82 million pounds. In 2011 Red Nose Day raised 108 million pounds. In total since its beginning the Comic Relief charity has raised more than 600 million pounds.
76 countries have benefited from Red Nose Day fundraising events.
More than 11,000 projects in the United Kingdom have been funded by Red Nose Day contributions alone.
Comic Relief raises money all year long to support their work, not just on Red Nose Day.
Money raised in New Zealand on Red Nose Day goes to help fund research into SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The name for Red Nose Day was inspired by the fact that clowns wear red noses and make people laugh by doing silly things.
Some of the charities given funds by Comic Relief include Oxfam, Christian Aid, Sight Savers, and Save the Children Fund.
Celebrities often get involved with Red Nose Day, including Kate Moss, Simon Cowell, Hugh Grant, Damian Lewis, Lily Allen, David Williams, and Nick Grimshaw.
Comic Relief also has other telethon events to raise money for its causes, including Sport Relief, and Children in Need.
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