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Third Annual ‘CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute’ Garners a Record 9,000 Nominations


Blue Ribbon Panel Includes Colin Powell, Sir Elton John, Ted Turner, Mariane Pearl, Shakira and more

Awards Show at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre to Air Thanksgiving Night

CNN will announce the 2009 “CNN Hero of the Year” and honor the Top Ten CNN Heroes in a star-studded gala celebration on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, at 9pm (ET/PT) from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, launched in 2007 to spotlight everyday citizens changing the world. Acclaimed producer/director Joel Gallen will serve as executive producer of “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” for the third year.

CNN has been airing “CNN Hero of the Week” profiles weekly since February; these profiles are available at An esteemed Blue Ribbon Panel will select the Top Ten CNN HEROES, and the public will then select the “CNN Hero of the Year” via voting at between Oct 1 and mid-November. At the November gala, the Top Ten Heroes will each be awarded $25,000, and CNN will reveal the CNN Hero of the Year, who will receive an additional $100,000. The broadcast will air globally on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Espanol.

In its third year, the multiplatform initiative received over 9,000 submissions from 100 countries – a new record. This represents more than twice the number of nominations received in 2008.

“This record number of nominations is further evidence of the momentum CNN Heroes has built in just a few short years,” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. “Viewers have been engaged by these stories of inspiration and accomplishment beyond our expectations. It is truly an honor to be able to introduce the CNN Heroes to our global audience every year.”

To date, this year’s Blue Ribbon Panel judges include: Colin Powell (retired four-star general, former U.S. Secretary of State, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance, an alliance of national partner organizations advocating for the needs of young people and encouraging Americans to engage in volunteer service); Wallis Annenberg (Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, which has given more than a quarter-billion dollars in “high-impact” grants to over 500 organizations); Sir Elton John (Academy Award-, Tony Award-, and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation); Mariane Pearl (journalist, author, member of the honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation); Shakira (Grammy-winning recording artist and founder of the Barefoot Foundation, which works to provide access to high-quality education for every child, no matter where they live); Tavis Smiley (media personality, author, philanthropist and founder of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which provides leadership training and development for youth); Ted Turner (founder of Turner Broadcasting and CNN; Chairman, Turner Enterprises, Inc.; Chairman, Turner Foundation, Inc.; Chairman of the United Nations Foundation; and co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative); Tory Burch (designer, entrepreneur and founder of the Tory Burch Foundation, which provides economic opportunities to women and their families in the United States); Kirk Cameron (actor and founder, Camp Firefly, a weeklong camp for terminally and seriously ill children and their families); Rossana Rosado (publisher and CEO, el diario/LA PRENSA, the oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States; also serves on the board of United Way of New York City); Masi Oka (Emmy-nominated actor and star of NBC’s Heroes and member of the American Red Cross’s National Celebrity Cabinet); Whoopi Goldberg (Academy Award-, Emmy Award-, and Tony Award winner and Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations); and Malaak Compton-Rock (humanitarian, founder of The Angel Rock Project, an online e-village that promotes volunteerism, social responsibility, and sustainable change).

Additional Blue Ribbon panelists, as well as this year’s presenters and performers, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Last year’s CNN HEROES program included appearances by Hugh Jackman, Salma Hayek, Cameron Diaz, Forest Whitaker, Meg Ryan, Terrence Howard, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, and Lucy Liu, with performances by Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and John Legend.

Kelly Flynn is senior executive producer for the CNN Heroes initiative. Before this endeavor, Flynn served as CNN Worldwide’s executive producer for program development, overseeing more than 30 pilots. Flynn joined CNN in 1998, and in 2001, she joined CNN Productions as a senior producer for both CNN Presents and People in the News. Before joining CNN, Flynn held a variety of production and direction roles for MTV News, where she created award-winning documentaries and produced segments for programs such as Week in Rock and Choose or Lose.

Joel Gallen, who helmed ambitious telethon events supporting victims of both the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, serves as executive producer for the event for the third year. Gallen won a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award for “America: A Tribute to Heroes” and has been nominated for several Emmys throughout his career. In October, Gallen will be producing the 25th anniversary celebration of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for HBO.

Kodak Theatre is the crown jewel of the Hollywood & Highland Center retail, dining and entertainment complex located in the heart of historic Hollywood. The 3,400-seat theatre opened in November 2001 and soon thereafter became known to more than one billion people across the globe as the first permanent home of the Academy Awards®. Kodak Theatre is operated by TheatreDreams LA/CHI, LP.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.


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