Tina Fey hosted Rise Up New York, a virtual telethon, on Monday night in an effort to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts in the Big Apple, and the “30 Rock” star was overwhelmed when she learned of the event’s monumental success.
After an hour-long event filled with appearances from Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Fallon and dozens of other big stars, Fey was excited to learn exactly how much the telethon — benefiting the Robin Hood organization — had raked in for the cause.
“I am told that the number of donors is well over 100,000 people from kids with piggy banks to million-dollar gifts,” Fey said, looking forward to the big reveal, which producers hadn’t yet shared. “No matter how big or small, they all share that spirit of generosity, and in the end, that is how we’ll win.”
While Fey clearly knew that the fundraiser had achieved its goal of raking in donations, it was clear she had not predicted how successful when the total — a whopping $115 million — appeared on screen and she quietly asked, “Is this real?”
“Okay. $115 million. We did this. You did this, we are difference makers,” a stunned Fey said as she was almost immediately brought to tears. “$115 million, what a great day for New York.”
She had a hard time fighting back her joyful crying as she thanked everyone who’d generously donated.
“Thank you to everyone who gave and gave and gave from all over the world,” Fey said. “There’s so much more to do.”
Fey’s emotional moment led into an appearance from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had a special message for the people of his state.
“We want to applaud New Yorkers for standing tall and all they have done to save lives,” Cuomo shared. “Without those efforts, the situation would have been much much worse.”
“Special thanks goes to the work of our front line heroes, health care workers who stepped up, and our essential workers who rose to the challenge, and to New Yorkers who came together and did what they had to do as they always have,” Cuomo added. “It has been hard and we’re not done yet but we faced adversity before… and we don’t just build back. We build back better than before. Because New York has a spirit and an energy that you can’t find anywhere else.”
Cuomo then introduced the night’s closing number from Billy Joel, who’s remote performance of his tune “Miami 2017” was played across the jumbo screens in a nearly empty Times Square, and was synchronized with a massive light show on the Empire State Building.
One of the other especially powerful, emotional moments of the night came courtesy of Jennifer Lopez, who shared a special message with the people of her hometown.
“New York, I know your strength. We’re going to get through this but we need to make sure we take care of all our neighbors, including our children,” Lopez shared. “Nearly 400,000 school kids are without access to the resources they need to continue their education and we can help them.”
To showcase just how special the children of New York truly are, Lopez introduced a powerful virtual performance from “the pride of Staten Island,” the PS22 chorus, made up entirely of grade schoolers.
For those interested in helping the people of New York, Robin Hood is always accepting donations. Check here for more information.