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MSNBC set aside “Lockup” and “Caught on Tape” for something much more noble and musical Saturday night. The network devoted nearly 1/3 of Saturday’s programming to the Global Citizen Festival, a 6-hour live concert in New York’s Central Park meant to draw attention to, and end, extreme poverty.
TVNewser went backstage as MSNBC anchors Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner hosted a one hour afternoon special, then anchored coverage into the night.
“There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than in Central Park, on an 80-degree day, with Alica Keys,” Wagner told us just as Keys took the stage.
Adds Hayes: “Cable news is a pretty repetitive undertaking… Tuesday, generally looks a lot like Monday. So anytime you’re doing something new that’s stretching some new set of muscles, it’s fun.”
The concert kicked-off with a set from Dutch DJ Tiësto, then continued with Alicia Keys, The Roots, Fun., and Carrie Underwood interspersed with remarks from the Queen of Sweden, the prime minister of India and the president of Rwanda.
As MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow conducted live interviews with heads of state and celebrity guests, NBC’s Tamron Hall spent much of the afternoon in the crowd interviewing attendees before hosting a primetime special on NBC. “This is phenomenal,” Hall told us before she took the stage. “When you attend an event like this and each person here did something for the world, that’s tremendous.”
This was the third Global Citizen Festival, and the first time MSNBC has been involved. MSNBC president Phil Griffin says it won’t be the last. “I can tell you we’re pretty much committed to doing next year. I guarantee it.”
“This aligns with our values,” Griffin tells TVNewser. “I love it that we’re connecting with all these people. And I think it’s important that we lead in this space.”
The concert culminated with Jay-Z and a surprise appearance by Beyonce closing the show with “Forever Young.”