From Jay Leno cracking jokes to Oprah arriving hand-in-hand with Cher, here's what went down at the telethon that raised over $44 million to help victims of both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey

By Raha Lewis and Lindsay Kimble
September 13, 2017 02:05 PM
Kevin Mazur/Hand in Hand/Getty Images

A veritable who’s-who of Hollywood and beyond joined together on Tuesday to raise millions in relief funds for victims of the deadly and devastating recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma.

With celebs manning the phone lines, the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief Telethon generated over $44 million in aid, according to event organizers.

But what were the stars doing when the cameras weren’t watching? PEOPLE was on-site in Los Angeles at Universal Studios (the telethon was also held in New York and Nashville), where everyone from Barbra Streisand to Justin Bieber was doing their part.

Oprah Winfrey walked into the studio arm-in-arm with pop icon Cher, closely followed by longtime pals George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

The Office alum Craig Robinson told PEOPLE he was totally starstruck, squashed between Jared Leto, Jay Leno and DJ Khaled – with baby Asahd! – and behind Cher and Billy Crystal.

“Bryan Cranston was behind me. Oh my God,” said Robinson. “And while Stevie [Wonder] was singing ‘Lean On Me,’ and Charlie Wilson was behind me jamming, it was just like, Oh my God, overwhelming.”

Added the actor, “Jay Leno was cracking jokes, of course, but the phone just kept ringing, so it wasn’t really — so that was before we started answering the phones, before they starting ringing, and then it was all business.”

Kevin Mazur/Hand in Hand/Getty Images
Kevin Mazur/Hand in Hand/Getty Images

The entire event came together seamlessly, Scooter Braun – whose SB Projects was one of the organizers – told PEOPLE, with the star-studded group of participants more than happy to help out.

“I was struggling to find a performer in New York, not because people didn’t want to do it, but because of scheduling, and I threw a Hail Mary to Dave Matthews,” admitted Braun. “Dave Matthews was in Seattle, and Dave Matthews – with two days to go before the event, he said, ‘It’s the right thing to do. I’ll fly in.’ And he flew himself from Seattle to New York to perform that song.”

Kevin Mazur/Hand in Hand/Getty Images

Braun championed the “kindness of every single person” who agreed to help out.

RELATED VIDEO: Selena Gomez, Beyoncé, and Other Stars Come Out In Full Force For Hand In Hand: A Benefit For Hurricane Relief Telethon

Donations will benefit the Rebuild Texas Fund, Direct Relief, Feeding Texas, Habitat for Humanity, The Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief (administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation), Save the Children and United Way of Greater Houston.