"Comic Relief," a March 29 benefit performance for America's poor and homeless, will be shown on basic cable systems as well as on the HBO pay-cable service, executives for the producing Home Box Office announced this week.

HBO will allow cable operators to carry the fund-raising event on open cable channels, where they are available, at no extra charge to subscribers. The benefit, which will originate at the Universal Amphitheater and will be hosted by Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, will begin at 9 p.m.

"The motivation is to raise money," HBO Chairman Michael Fuchs said, noting that availability on basic cable will enable the show to be seen by more potential contributors to the Comic Relief cause. A toll-free number displayed on-screen during the three-hour special will allow viewers to make donations directly to Comic Relief, a nonprofit corporation.

Among the comedians and actors scheduled to participate in the event are Buddy Hackett, Pee-wee Herman, Michael J. Fox, Joe Piscopo, Carl and Rob Reiner, David Steinberg, Martin Mull, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bernhard, Howie Mandel, Henny Youngman, Gilda Radner and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

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