Water crisis benefit brings stars to Flint on Oscar night

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A benefit for residents affected by the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint featured some big names but was a grass-roots effort at its core, “Creed” director Ryan Coogler said.

Coogler, actor Jesse Williams and about a dozen others opened the #JusticeForFlint event on Sunday — Oscar night — by talking about the water crisis and thanking the crowd. Those participating in the Flint benefit, which included performances by Janelle Monae and Stevie Wonder, are helping raise money and awareness about the water problem, Coogler said.

None of the opening speakers mentioned the Academy Awards or the uproar over the lack of diversity of this year’s nominees. Coogler’s “Creed” had been the favorite to win the best supporting actor Oscar for Sylvester Stallone’s reprise of his iconic Rocky character. It was the sole nomination for the critically acclaimed film, which many saw as yet another example of how the film academy is out of step with today’s audiences.

Comedian Hannibal Buress hosted the free, livestreamed show. He joked that the woman who checked him in at his hotel in Flint didn’t even mention the crisis, which has left Flint residents unable to drink unfiltered tap water.

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