Top stars join NBC's night of Red Nose Day programming & live special
Hollywood's biggest stars, Including Julia Roberts, Paul Rudd, Bryan Cranston, Ben Affleck, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Rachael McAdams, Laura Linney, Patrick Dempsey, Seth Meyers, Mindy Kaling, Kenan Thompson, 'This Is Us' cast came out to have fun and make a difference
Millions of Americans and Red Nose Day partners Walgreens, M&M's, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Comcast helped raise money and awareness to help end child poverty
The third annual Red Nose Day took place Thursday, concluding a six-week campaign of activity across the country. The campaign raised at least $35 million to help children in need, and has now raised more than $95 million in its first three years in the U.S. The donation total was calculated after the broadcast finished airing on the West Coast.
The day's events concluded with three hours of special primetime programming on NBC, including the third annual live "The Red Nose Day Special," which brought together some of Hollywood's biggest stars to help raise critical funds for children in need.
Over the past six weeks, Americans across the country have gotten their "Noses On" to help end child poverty. In addition to buying and wearing official red noses sold exclusively at Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, Americans have hosted online and offline fundraisers, carried the message on social media, and donated to the cause throughout the campaign and the special night of Red Nose Day programming on NBC. The total funds raised this year will continue to grow in the coming weeks to include money from public fundraisers and other additional sources.
To mark the special occasion, NBC celebrated Red Nose Day with three hours of special programming, which started with "Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day" at 8 p.m. (the first celebrity edition of "American Ninja Warrior"), followed by a special episode of "Running Wild with Bear Grylls for Red Nose Day" at 9 p.m. where Julia Roberts ventured to Kenya, and concluded with NBC's third annual "The Red Nose Day Special" at 10 p.m.
In the first celebrity edition of "American Ninja Warrior," hosted by Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila and co-hosted by Kristine Leahy, nine brave stars tackled the course, all in the name of charity. The celebrity ninjas were Stephen Amell, Erika Christensen, Jeff Dye, Ashton Eaton, Nikki Glaser, Derek Hough, Natalie Morales, Nick Swisher and Mena Suvari. As part of the show, the M&M'S Brand and the Rockefeller Foundation each made a significant donation to Red Nose Day.
"Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day" will repeat on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
"The Red Nose Day Special": "American Ninja Warrior" celebrity contestant Mena Suvari swings to the finish. (NBC photo by Tyler Golden)
Then, Grylls and Roberts travelled to Kenya, navigating a hazardous route through a harsh landscape of desert, canyons and a crocodile-infested river to deliver life-saving vaccines to a remote village before the vaccines expired. Their journey highlighted the impact of life-saving vaccines, which Red Nose Day helps to provide to children around the world.
Hosted by Chris Hardwick and broadcast live from Rockefeller Plaza, "The Red Nose Day Special" featured the highly anticipated "Love Actually" mini-sequel, "Red Nose Day Actually," comedy and entertainment, and short, compelling films that shed light on children in need.
The "This Is Us" cast appeared in a comedy sketch during which they tried not to reveal season two spoilers for the critically acclaimed drama while supporting Red Nose Day. Ben Affleck, Jack Black, Orlando Bloom, Mark Hamill, Rachael McAdams and Dax Shepard appeared in a "Wish Lantern" sketch, in which they attempted to fulfill the wishes of kids around the country, even as they became increasingly more demanding and ridiculous.
Hardwick raced through 30 Rock trying to do his part to quickly raise $500 for Red Nose Day - in just 3 minutes - meeting Seth Meyers, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Kenan Thompson and others along the way.
Also in "The Red Nose Day Special," Roberts put the spotlight on challenges faced by many children internationally as she traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, and visited an overcrowded hospital full of serious illnesses, most of which are entirely preventable with vaccines that cost as little as $5.
Paul Rudd made a special trip to a rural area of Maine that has been hit hard by recession. He showed why donations are so urgently needed as he highlighted critical programs relying on Red Nose Day funds to keep children healthy and safe, while ensuring they don't go hungry.
The special also featured "Red Nose Day Actually," the much-anticipated reunion sequel to "Love Actually," which caught up with cast members from the beloved holiday film. The cast members who reprised their roles included Rowan Atkinson, Marcus Brigstocke, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Laura Linney, Martine McCutcheon, Lucia Moniz, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy and Olivia Olson. Patrick Dempsey joined as a new character, revealed to be the husband of Linney's character, Sarah.
An extended cut of "Red Nose Day Actually" is now available to view on NBC's Facebook page.
Bryan Cranston, who bravely agreed to sit in a dunk tank and get immersed in water if fundraising totals reached $30 million during the show, made a big splash when that fundraising goal was met.
Behind the scenes at 30 Rock, Red Nose Day also hosted a two-hour live stream on Facebook, giving fans a chance to get a look backstage at the third annual "The Red Nose Day Special," interact with special guests, see exclusive Red Nose Day content, participate in live fundraising challenges, and donate to Red Nose Day through Facebook Live. It was the first time a fundraiser on Facebook Live used the new "Donate" buttons in Facebook Live in association with a traditional television broadcast.
In addition to money raised during the live event, fundraising totals announced during the show included over $18 million from Walgreens, which included all of Walgreens profits from the sales of red noses and Red Nose Day items, its vendor partners' contributions, customer donations and a number of fundraising events, including the "Ride On for Red Nose Day" cycling challenge and employee fundraising. M&M'S donated over $1 million to the cause. In addition, Comcast committed $1.2 million in funding.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation enabled Red Nose Day supporters to double their impact by pledging to match all donations made to Red Nose Day through Facebook's new and existing giving tools, up to $1 million. This is in addition to the $100,000 match the foundation offered to "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" viewers last week, through rednoseday.org/ellen
. The matching period for both continues until June 15.
America once again "turned red" for Red Nose Day, with eight major landmarks across the country lit in red to honor the occasion, including: the Empire State Building in New York City, the Willis Tower in Chicago, the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bank of America Building in Dallas, the Orlando Eye in Orlando, the Miami Tower in Miami, the WoodmenLife Tower in Omaha, and the Terminal Tower in Cleveland.
Earlier this week, the Red Nose Day team and Walgreens started the countdown to Red Nose Day, pressing the NASDAQ closing bell on May 24, after welcoming riders from the East Coast leg of "Ride on for Red Nose Day" with an event in Herald Square.
Beneficiaries of Red Nose Day grants include charity organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America; charity:water; Children's Health Fund, Feeding America; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; National Council of La Raza; Save the Children; and the Global Fund.
Created by Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning writer-director Richard Curtis, ("Love Actually," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill"), Red Nose Day is all about bringing the nation together to have fun and make a difference for children in need - here at home and around the world. Funds raised will save and change the lives of millions of children in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and some of the poorest communities in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion globally since the campaign's inception in the U.K. in 1988.
Curtis is an executive producer of "The Red Nose Day Special" (a Universal Television production), along with John Irwin of Irwin Entertainment and Lily Sobhani.