CNN Worldwide and its global audience paid special tribute tonight to seven ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary deeds, recognizing them as “CNN Heroes” in a global telecast. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour hosted “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
“Over the past five months, our CNN Heroes initiative has shone a spotlight upon dozens of amazing people from around the globe,” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. “All of them deserve the designation as a ‘hero,’ and these seven we honored tonight truly stood out with their accomplishments, their courage and their humility.”
From May 1 through September, CNN Worldwide has featured everyday heroes across its television networks, digital services and at www.CNN.com/Heroes, encouraging viewers to nominate local heroes they deem deserving of recognition as a CNN Hero. In its first year of the CNN Heroes initiative, CNN received more than 7,000 nominations from viewers in 80 countries, nominating people from more than 90 countries. CNN and its audience narrowed the nominations to a list of 18 finalists, from which a blue ribbon panel of judges selected the eventual honorees.
In addition to honoring everyday heroes, the tribute telecast paid special recognition to Christopher Reeve with the presentation of the inaugural CNN Heroes’ Hero award. After a tragic horse-riding accident, Reeve along with his wife, Dana, formed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to support efforts to find cures and treatments for spinal cord injuries and improving the lives of people living with paralysis. Reeve’s eldest children, Matthew and Alexandra, along with Peter D. Kiernan, chairman of the board of the Reeve Foundation, accepted the award.
The gala tribute included performances from Grammy Award winners Mary J. Blige and Sheryl Crow and a duet by Grammy Award winner Norah Jones and acclaimed performer-producer Wyclef Jean and appearances from Tyra Banks, Glenn Close, Harry Connick Jr., Rosario Dawson, Kyra Sedgwick, Jimmy Smits and Mira Sorvino.
Joel Gallen, who has helmed ambitious telethon events supporting victims of both the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, served as executive producer for the event. Gallen won a Peabody Award for “America: A Tribute to Heroes” and has been nominated for several Emmys throughout his career. Kelly Flynn is senior executive producer for the CNN Heroes initiative.
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.