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The Rolling Stones added to Sandy benefit

NEW YORK--The Rolling Stones will join the artists already booked for next week's televised Superstorm Sandy benefit show in New York City, which producers said Friday would be the most widely available live concert ever.

The Stones join a trio of 1960s British rock royalty on the bill, including Paul McCartney and the Who. Among the other artists scheduled to appear are Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Eric Clapton, Eddie Vedder, Billy Joel, Roger Waters and Chris Martin.

The “12-12-12” concert at Madison Square Garden will be available on television or online to some 2 billion people, said James Dolan, one of the producers. A total of 34 U.S. television networks have agreed to show the concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday (0030 GMT).

Harvey Weinstein, the movie executive who is producing the show along with Cablevision chief Dolan and John Sykes, head of Clear Channel Communications Inc., said that US$30 million has been raised for victims of the storm, which hit the New York City region hard on Oct. 29. The “Concert for New York,” a benefit run in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, had raised US$19 million by the same point on its way to a total of US$65 million. The Robin Hood Foundation will distribute proceeds of the Sandy benefit to storm victims in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The concert is sold out. Producers urged fans who don't already have tickets not to buy them through brokers like StubHub, where people have been trying to sell seats at a price higher than the list prices of US$150 to US$2,500. Weinstein said there were counterfeit tickets offered for sale.

While StubHub has agreed to donate its fee for selling tickets to the Sandy relief efforts, producers say there's no way to recover markups that scalpers receive. They had no estimate of how many of the tickets were bought by people or companies that intended to resell them.

“We're not going to make that our focus,” Dolan said.

The concert lineup is “99 percent” set, Sykes said. McCartney is the closer, followed by a finale involving many artists. It's scheduled to end around midnight, but may go longer.

“We're not going to pull the plug,” Weinstein said.

Many actors and other personalities will introduce segments profiling storm victims, including Sean Combs, Brian Williams, Jon Stewart, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Chelsea Clinton, Adam Sandler, Seth Meyers and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The participating U.S. networks do not include the major broadcast networks. The lineup will include HBO and Showtime, public broadcasting stations in New York and Philadelphia, and a host of smaller cable networks like the Cooking Channel, Military History and VH1 Classic.

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