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'Idol Gives Back' Charity Donations Top $60M

An "American Idol" charity special filled with wrenching pictures of impoverished children and celebrity appeals raised more than $60 million, Fox said Thursday.

The money from "Idol Gives Back," a two-night special that was combined with the regular talent contest, will go to organizations funding relief programs for America and Africa, the network said. Donations came from viewers and corporations.

A total of $5 million was pledged by Fox parent company News Corp., which gave 10 cents for each of the first 50 million votes received for contestants on Tuesday's show. More than 70 million votes were cast, a record for the show, Fox said.

Pledges were still coming in and an updated total was to be announced on next Tuesday's show, Fox said.

In the spirit of the evening, "American Idol" decided not to bounce a contestant as usual Wednesday — meaning two singers will be going home next week.

Performers on Wednesday's two-hour special included Earth, Wind & Fire, Kelly Clarkson and Josh Groban with the African Children's Choir. Ben Stiller, Madonna and other celebrities encouraged viewers to donate.

Ellen DeGeneres, co-host with Ryan Seacrest of Wednesday's show, said she was making a personal donation of $100,000.

Funds will go to the newly formed Charity Projects Entertainment Fund for distribution to groups including America's Second Harvest: The Nation's Food Bank Network, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

More than money was raised. More than 70,000 people joined "ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History," the group said Thursday, after rock star-activist Bono's video plea Wednesday for people to unite against "brutal, stupid poverty."

ONE is a a coalition of over 2.4 million people and 100 of the nation's relief, humanitarian and advocacy organizations.