The May 30 star-studded Boston Strong benefit concert at TD Garden, an event organized by Live Nation New England to benefit Marathon bombing victims through One Fund Boston, sold out in minutes.
But many in the Boston area were disappointed that a concert featuring performances by big, locally bred artists like Aerosmith, James Taylor, J. Geils Band, and New Kids on the Block wasn’t televised. That disappointment only mounted when the live stream offered on the Web was so glitchy as to be unwatchable for the first third of the concert.
On Thursday, Live Nation and WCVB-TV (Channel 5) said that “Boston Strong: An Evening of Support and Celebration” — will air on Sat., June 29, from 7 to 11 p.m. The postproduction costs, including editing and visual tweaks, will be covered by John Hancock Financial.
“It came forward from ’CVB,” said Don Law, president of Live Nation. “They took the initiative, reached out to us, and said, ‘We think we can pull it together.’ They are the ones who went and got Hancock. So ’CVB deserves the credit for making this work.”
WCVB president and general manager Bill Fine said this was the only other option once airing the concert live didn’t happen. “Sure we would have loved to have carried it live,” Fine said. “This is the next best thing, and it’s great to have this opportunity to give everybody a chance to see the concert. It clearly was not accessible the first time unless you had a ticket or the patience to watch the stream.”
Law said he understood the frustration about the show not originally being broadcast, but he said the lack of a sponsor at the time made it impossible. “We were approached by a number of entities and every time it got down to the issue of the expense to pay for the production, they all said no,” he said. “Everyone was unwilling to foot the bill.”
Faced with the choice of spending some of the funds raised to televise the show or simply proceeding without a TV broadcast, Law said they decided “to go ahead and give the money to the victims and not spend that extra money.”
Live Nation said Thursday the concert generated more than $2 million, the largest donation from a single source to One Fund Boston.
The televised concert will be edited from the approximately 5 hours to 3 hours, 45 minutes. And because the concert was shot in high definition, the quality of the broadcast should be good, Fine said.
It will, however, not include comedian Dane Cook, who opted out of allowing his performance to be included in the live stream and therefore in the broadcast, a decision that drew the ire of people watching the stream. (Cook explained in a Tweet that he “didn’t want any of the new material to hit the airwaves yet!”) Law said the broadcast will also not include some of the colorful remarks made by other comedians, because it’s “family television.” The majority of the musical performances will be included, except for any moments where an obscenity was uttered.
To air the concert on TV, Law had to approach the artists again, and ask them to waive any licensing fees so that their songs could be included in the broadcast.
“Everyone has been very cooperative,” he said.
Although there had previously been talk of a DVD release of the concert, Law said that was not in the cards. “This is a one-time airing, no DVD. There won’t be any life beyond this one broadcast.” During the broadcast, there will be instructions for viewers who want to make a One Fund donation.
Viewers of the broadcast will see a concert full of emotion, warmth, and humor that brought together a once-in-a-lifetime collection of Boston’s pop music players. There were bedazzled sports jerseys, punk bands colliding with boy bands, and celebrities from Doug Flutie to Tedy Bruschi to Steven Wright. One musical highlight came when James Taylor and Carole King performed “You’ve Got a Friend” for a city still healing from the April 15 Marathon bombings, and the ensuing manhunt, that left four dead and more than 250 injured.
“My wife went,” Fine said, “and was sending me texts all night saying, ‘You’re missing the concert of your life.’ ”