The biggest event on TV this week isn’t a finale or a premiere, it’s a special. The “Stand Up to Cancer” special, to be precise.
At 8 p.m. Friday, a dozen networks (and even more specialty tier and premium channels) will air the one-hour, commercial-free event live. They are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Ion, TNT, Oxygen, VH1, E!, ABC Family, Bravo and National Geographic. It will also be live streamed on Hulu and Yahoo.
This biennial cancer research fundraiser, hosted by Stand Up To Cancer co-founder Katie Couric, began in 2008. As an organization, Stand Up To Cancer’s scientific focus is on innovation and collaboration; since its inception, more than 750 scientists from six countries have planned, launched or completed more than 140 clinical trials in hopes of ending cancer once and for all.
On this year’s special, Jennifer Hudson, Lupe Fiasco and Common will headline the musical acts, performing their song “ReMission” live for the first time. Other performers are The Who, Ariana Grande and Dave Matthews.
A Who’s Who of film and TV stars will also be on hand, including Gwyneth Paltrow (who is co-executive producing the special), Robert Downey Jr., Reese Witherspoon, Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Hamm, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Harmon, Rob Lowe, Anna Kendrick, Tony Goldwyn, Dave Grohl, Joe Manganiello, Matt Passmore, Marg Helgenberger, Hailee Steinfeld, Jordana Brewster, Mira Sorvino, Alison Sweeney, Bree Turner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jaime King, Giada De Laurentiis, Amanda de Cadenet, Charlie Wilson and Diem Brown.
Funny folks Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, Tony Hale, Dane Cook, Rob Riggle and Ben Falcone are participating, too, as is Italia Ricci, who stars as cancer-stricken twentysomething April Carver on ABC Family’s “Chasing Life,” which premiered this summer.
This year, in a twist on the usual telethon format, instead of you calling in to these famous folks manning a telephone bank, they’ll be calling you. And it’s not just during the TV special — the campaign runs from 7 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Sunday.
You can sign up at werecallingyou.org, and if you’re one of the lucky ones the celebrities reach out to, your contact could be in the form of a phone call, a personalized tweet or Instagram message or a personalized video on the Stand Up 2 Cancer Facebook page (facebook.com/su2c).
During the broadcast, stars in the on-set digital lounge will be placing these calls and social media messages, as well as participating in live Q&A sessions on their own Facebook pages. Also, Couric will read messages from the new Facebook mentions box, which allows supporters to share their cancer connection and get real-time celebrity responses.
In addition to the stars who will be on the televised special, many other celebrities are getting involved.
Among the famous names participating are Joshua Jackson, Ian Sommerholder, Hank Azaria and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as cast members from “Game of Thrones” (including Maisie Williams, Kit Harington and Nikola Coster-Waldau), “True Blood” (including Stephen Moyer and our own Sam Trammell) and “Sleepy Hollow” (Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie).
Representing the Disney Channel are past and present stars Hilary Duff, Bella Thorne, Calum Worthy and G. Hannelius. Sarah Hyland, the “Modern Family” co-star of Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, might give you a ring, or you could talk to Richard Brancatisano, who co-stars with Italia Ricci on “Chasing Life.”
Stars from upcoming new fall shows are getting in on it, as well. This includes Katherine Heigl (NBC’s “State of Affairs”), Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue (Fox’s “Gotham”), Kate Walsh (NBC’s “Bad Judge”), Scott Bakula (CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans”), John Mulaney and Martin Short (Fox’s “Mulaney”), Dave Annable (Fox’s “Red Band Society”) and Dylan McDermott (CBS’ “Stalker”).
Whether it was chosen for this reason or not, September is a good time for “Stand Up to Cancer” as, according to the American Cancer Society, it’s the awareness month for childhood cancer, gynecologic cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer.
Find out more about Stand Up To Cancer, its mission and how you can help at standup2cancer.org.
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Scripted series premiere: “If Loving You is Wrong,” 9 p.m. Tuesday, OWN (Tyler Perry drama about neighbors whose lives aren’t what they seem).
Series premieres: “Young, Hot & Crooked,” 10 p.m. Friday, ID (true crime); “Utopia,” 8 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Sept. 12, Fox (reality show about a yearlong experiment where 15 people try to create their own civilization); “Extreme Hotels,” 8 p.m. Sunday, Travel (unusual hotels around the world); “Angels Among Us,” 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC (a woman communicates with guardian angels); “I Heart Nick Carter,” 10 p.m. Wednesday, VH1 (the ex-Backstreet Boy balances his career and upcoming wedding).
Scripted season premiere: “Sons of Anarchy,” 10 p.m. Tuesday, FX (final season).
Season premieres: “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” 9 p.m., and “Six Little McGhees,” 10 p.m. Sunday, OWN; “Total Divas,” 9 p.m. Sunday, E!; “Rewrapped,” 8 p.m. Monday, Food; “Adam Devine’s House Party,” 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Comedy Central (moves to regular 12:30 a.m. timeslot on Sept. 11); “Hell’s Kitchen,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox; “Couples Therapy,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, VH1, “Nova,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, PBS (“Vaccines — Calling the Shots”).
Season finales: “Monumental Mysteries,” 9 p.m. Friday, Travel; “Breathless,” 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS; “Flipping the Block,” 9 p.m. Sunday, HGTV; “Bachelor in Paradise,” 8 p.m. Monday, ABC; “Extreme Weight Loss,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC; “Food Fighters,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC; “Hotel Hell,” 9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox; “Restaurant Stakeout,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Food; “Taxi Brooklyn,” 10 p.m. Wednesday, NBC; “Graceland,” 10 p.m. Wednesday, USA.
Specials: “The Brittany Murphy Story,” 8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime (TV movie about the late actress, followed by a news special on her death); “The ABC’s of Schoolhouse Rock,” 7 p.m. Sunday, ABC (includes interviews with the creators and Top 5 countdown); “Teen Wolf: Being Tyler Posey,” 10 p.m. Monday, MTV (a look at the star’s life); “9/10: The Final Hours,” 8 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic (eyewitness accounts from those directly impacted by the events of “PBS Preview: The Roosevelts,” 8 p.m. Monday, PBS (a look at the upcoming Ken Burns documentary); “Robin Williams Remembered: A Pioneers of Television Special,” 9 p.m. Tuesday, PBS (has an interview he previously gave for the series, remarks from colleagues and clips from his career); “Fashion Rocks,” 9 p.m. Tuesday, CBS (fashion show with music by Duran Duran, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Lopez and more); “Under the Lights,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, CBS (NFL preview); “I Am Evel Knievel,” 11 p.m. Wednesday, Spike (has interviews and archival footage).
Of note: “Brave” makes its TV premiere at 8 p.m. Friday on Disney; see Under the Streetlamp perform in a PBS special at 8 p.m. Saturday on PBS2 before the group opens the Broadway in Charleston season on Oct. 3.
W.Va. alert: State native Jeremy Parsons co-hosts People magazine’s new “People Now” web show at people.com/peoplenow. The 20-minute weekday show, which features pop culture news and celebrity appearances, premiered Wednesday and airs at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Reach Amy Robinson at email@example.com or follow @thegazz on Twitter.