NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Secret Policeman’s Ball is letting America in on the party: The British-based music and comedy festival is coming to New York in March.
Coldplay, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Mumford & Sons and Russell Brand are among the acts who have signed on for the event at Radio City Music Hall on March 4. The concert will benefit Amnesty International, as it has since it started back in 1976 with celebrities like John Cleese. Over the years, Bono, Sting and others have participated. This will mark the first time it’s being held in New York City.
“For us, it’s iconic and a very special thing, and has provided the opportunity to really celebrate the presence of freedom of expression and free speech, and how we can move people and how we can bring people together, and just how powerful that is,” said Amnesty International spokesman Andy Hackman in an interview Tuesday.
The last Secret Policeman’s Ball was in 2008 in London. Hackman said the organization wanted to do something different and on a grander scale this year since it’s the 50th anniversary of the human rights group.
“That phrase ‘human rights’ has lost meaning in some ways,” he said. “That’s why we want to demonstrate the power and the joy that free speech can bring to us all. … It’s really just using these amazing talented people to demonstrate the power, what a force of good free speech is.”
David “DJ” Javerbaum, the former head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” said the show will feature sketches, music and more. He said the legacy of the Secret Policeman’s Ball, which has lived on in videos, has helped it attract top talent, some of which are still to be announced.
“These are very seminal movies for anybody young in that age who wanted to get into comedy,” he said.
Tickets go on sale on Monday.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP’s music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi