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TV Tonight: Idol Gives Back Week Begins

Idol Gives Back, which airs its second annual special this week on Fox, is a curious blend of Hollywood event and fundraising telethon. It's also a good look at what can happen when the biggest TV show in the nation and the biggest names in entertainment come together to ask everyday folks to give. In the first year, the special certainly succeeded, raising $76 million for various charities. This year's goal, according to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, is even higher.

The work begins tonight, when the top eight American Idol contestants sing songs that inspire them. Last year, the contestants got a reprieve with a surprise non-elimination round during Idol Gives Back, but it doesn't sound like this year will be quite so charitable. Nobody will be eliminated during Wednesday's two-and-a-half-hour special — but there's still an elimination show set for Thursday. But Idol Gives Back shouldn't be about a clever trick or a big twist, Lythgoe told reporters last week. He said:

Idol is Idol; that is always going to be watched, and for some 17-year-old like David Archuleta to come forward and say, hey, give your money because we need it — it isn’t a question of blackmailing an audience; it’s time to inform and educate an audience to realize they should be doing this.

After tonight's performances, the Idol top eight will go on phone duty, taking donations from callers during Wednesday's show and maybe even singing for a few lucky givers.

Part of Idol Gives Back was taped over the weekend, while still more performances will air live on Wednesday. This year's beneficiaries will be American Save the Children, America's Make it Right, Children's Defense Fund, the Children’s Health Fund, Malaria No More, and the Global Fund. How are you feeling about a second year of Idol Gives Back (not to mention the whopping four-and-a-half hours of Idol-related TV this week)? And what inspirational songs would you like to hear tonight? To watch a preview for Idol Gives Back, just

.

Photo courtesy of Fox

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