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"He's the type of person who'll hit you in the ass and get you going. It doesn't make you a lot of friends, but it's a great ability to have." — Adam, on Bono

Hollywood Hails U2's Bono for Philanthropy

Reuters English News Service
HOLLYWOOD, Feb. 14 (Reuters) - Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and Kevin Spacey, and rock bands No Doubt and R.E.M. tossed valentines to U2 singer Bono at a fund-raiser on Thursday marking the outspoken Irishman's "extraordinary philanthropy."

The first annual Love Rocks concert was held in Bono's honor, and also brought out the likes of comedians Ray Romano and Drew Carey, actor Sean Penn, R&B singer Lauryn Hill and Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner. The event was designed to raise money for cardiovascular research.

Bono, a.k.a. Paul Hewson, was feted with the Heart of Entertainment award for what organizers described as "his extraordinary philanthropy and dedication to improving the lives of millions of people throughout the world."

In his two decades at the helm of his politically active rock group, Bono has championed such causes as debt relief and AIDS awareness in the Third World, and worked with such groups as Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Cruise told the crowd at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre that Bono "makes us all proud to be human." Former President Bill Clinton and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger sent congratulatory videos. R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe described Bono as a "singer, songwriter, statesman, fashion plate."

R.E.M. performed a short set that included a cover of "I Got You Babe" during which pop diva Cher made a surprise appearance from the wings to duet with Stipe on her '60s classic. She said it was the first time she had ever performed the song without her late former husband, Sonny Bono.

Later, R.E.M. performed U2's mournful ballad "One" with help from Bono on vocals.

In accepting his award, Bono proudly described himself as "a thorn in the shoe" of President George W. Bush's administration because of his efforts to apprise U.S. lawmakers of suffering in the world's poorest countries.

Earlier this month at the World Economic Forum in New York, Bono's lobbying charmed hardened businessmen and politicians such as Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

Wearing his trademark wraparound sunglasses, Bono told the sympathetic Hollywood crowd that 28 million HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa would leave behind 100 million AIDS orphans by the end of the decade.

"This is probably the greatest threat to humanity that the world has seen really since the bubonic plague took out about a third of Europe in the Middle Ages," he said.

He challenged the creative minds in Hollywood to help end suffering. He noted that 8 million people died each year from preventable diseases that could be avoided with the expenditure of $30 on each victim.

Still, even a charismatic rock star knows he can command people's attentions for only so long.

"I guess right down the hall from beatification comes crucifixion, so I better enjoy this," he said.

© Reuters, 2002. All rights reserved.