Tom Hanks mixes laughs, gravity for ACLU online fundraiser
Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin and other stars joined in an online fundraiser for the American Civil Liberties Union, urging the public to help protect bedrock rights they warned are in jeopardy.
Hanks said actions such as President Donald Trump’s attempted travel ban represent a “brand of tragedy” and not the America the actor learned about as a youngster.
The fundraiser, live-streamed Friday from New York City, included studio and videotaped appearances by Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Steve Buscemi, Tituss Burgess and Sterling K. Brown. Norah Jones, Usher and The Roots were among the musical performers.
A pledge tally wasn’t immediately available as the four-hour event concluded.
Laughs were mixed with gravity throughout. Hanks, who conducted a lesson on the U.S. Constitution, also chatted with two ACLU lawyers he teasingly nicknamed for action stars Bruce Willis and Sandra Bullock.
Some celebrities made their pleas for donations personal.
“I’m an immigrant,” said author and TV host Padma Lakshmi. “What I always loved about this country is that anyone could come here” without regard to race or religion.
“If you’re like me, you probably can’t believe what’s happening right now. ... We’re going to stand for rights, we’re going to stand for freedom,” she said.
Seth Meyers and Chelsea Clinton separately tackled the issue of voting rights, with the former first daughter saying that some state laws are making it harder to cast ballots.
Meyers took a lighter approach.
“Voting lines should not be as long as the Porta Potty lines at Coachella. That’s in the Constitution,” he said.
In a clip released ahead of “Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU,” participants recounted successful ACLU efforts in support of school desegregation, marriage equality and abortion rights.
Some mentioned Trump’s actions as the impetus for their show of support. He and his administration’s policies have drawn sharp opposition from many in the entertainment industry
“Travel bans. Executive orders. Unintelligible tweets at 2 a.m.,” said Baldwin, who has repeatedly satirized Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
“The ACLU is on it,” said Holly Hunter.
“The ACLU has had your back for almost 100 years,” said Oscar-winning “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali.
“Make it rain,” said “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, urging viewers to donate.
The event was carried live on the Facebook pages of Stand for Rights 2017, Funny or Die and The Huffington Post.
Friend of a Friend Productions produced the fundraiser in conjunction with Huffington, Funny or Die and Maggie Vision.
Lynn Elber can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.