Celebrities, Brands Come Together For 10th Annual CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute

By A.J. Katz 

The stars and brands will be out in full force on Sunday night for The 10th Annual CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute, co-hosted for the first time by Anderson Cooper and his partner-in-crime Kelly Ripa. The event, which honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to help improve the lives of others in 2016, will air live Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CNN from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Celebrity presenters include Empire star Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olympian Laurie Hernandez, Neil Patrick Harris, Edward Norton, Ray Donovan star Liev Schrieber, Edie Falco, Keegan-Michael Key of Key & Peele fame, and Danielle Brooks from Orange is the New Black.

A prime time address by President Obama served as the lead-in for last year’s CNN Heroes, which aired at 9 p.m. That lead-in undoubtedly helped the telecast achieve a year-over-year ratings improvement in the key categories (+38 percent in total viewers / +14 percent in A25-54). CNN hopes the telecast can continue to deliver ratings growth in 2016, but that might be a tall task. This year’s telecast won’t have a presidential prime time address as a lead-in, and it will be going up against a highly-anticipated NBC Sunday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and Giants that should deliver big numbers.


According to Sami Main, our colleague at Adweek, a portion of the broadcast will feature stories of previous honorees and how they’re thriving. It’s a “where are they now?” retrospective from CNN’s branded content studio, Courageous, which partnered with Subaru to produce clips focusing on previous Heroes. In addition to Subaru, returning brand partners include Geico and Humana and Astellas Pharma. Many of these partners will appear in on-air ads in addition to CNN’s social platforms.

Cooper revealed the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2016 on New Day back in October. Voting closed this past Tuesday, but people can still make a tax-deductible donation to any Top 10 hero by visiting www.cnnheroes.com. Each Top 10 CNN Hero will be awarded $10,000 and the CNN Hero of the Year, which will be announced live on Sunday night, will receive an additional $100,000.

The Peabody Award-winning, Emmy nominated program has profiled more than 275 heroes and has received over 75,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.