TIME Exclusive Interview: Live 8 Organizers Bob Geldof, Bono and Richard Curtis

  • Share
  • Read Later
New York Ė In their first interview together since the announcement of Live 8, Bob Geldof, Bono of U2, and Richard Curtis (screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) sat down with TIMEís Josh Tyrangiel last week to discuss the upcoming Live 8 Concert Series that they are organizing. Live 8 will be a series of free international concerts to be held on July 2 with unprecedented star power (Will Smith is host of a hip-hop-heavy show in Philadelphia; Pink Floyd will reunite in London on the same bill as U2, Coldplay, Madonna and Paul McCartney), all to pressure G-8 leaders to make debt forgiveness, fair trade and increased aid part of their Africa policies.

TIME: You ultimately decided to time live 8 around the G-8 summit. Isnít it a bit odd to stage a rock concert around whatís essentially a policy meeting?

GELDOF: ÖWe didnít just pick this moment out of the sky. This G-8 is in the U.K., where the Prime Minister was once a young git with the worst haircut save mine. He attended Live Aid and was informed by it, so heís in tune with where weíve come from. Then, a lot of these G-8 guys are on their last political legs. Schroederís going to lose in Germany. Chirac wonít stand because he will lose. Berlusconi? Might have a year left. (Canadian Prime Minister) Paul Martin is clinging on. George Bush canít stand again, and Tony Blair said he wouldnít. It gives us a chance to appeal to their sense of legacy. Combined with all this, our generation has become the Establishment. Bono is the rock god of the Establishment. Richard is the filmmaker of the Establishment. And Iím just a paddy with a hat on. (Much laughter.)

BONO: The missing piece in a way is in the U.S. What Bob provides with his steel and fund raising and what Richard provides in terms of community in the cinematic arts and as a writer with his ability to deliver a message, I feel like Iíve been trying to do in the U.S.óbut Iím not American. Really until today, when Russell Simmons called and offered to help, we havenít had the American sense of ownership that we should. Itís a real problem. I think itís going to turn around. But weíve started very late.

TIME: Have you tailored your message in each G-8 country, and if so, how have you tailored your message to Americans?

BONO: Warren Buffett gave me the best advice on this subject. He said, ďDonít appeal to the conscience of America. Appeal to the greatness of America and youíll get the job done.Ē

Ö Onstage, I talk about my first impression of Americans, which was watching a man walk on the moon. We thought, ďAmericans are mad! But look what they can do when they get organized.Ē

GELDOF: America doesnít have a lack of empathy, they just donít know the issues as well. Actually, today I had to defend the Bush Administration in France again. They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American President for Africa. But itís empirically so.

TIME: Which of the G-8 leaders do you think remains the toughest nut to crack?

BONO: The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels heís already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he has. But he started from far too low a place. He can stand there and say he paid at the office already. He shouldnít, because heíll be left out of the history books. But itís hard for him because of the expense of the war and the debts. But I have a hunch that he will step forward with something. And itíll take somebody like him ...

Story is online at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1074085,00.html

Contact: Ty Trippet TIME 212-522-3640