CNN Announces Judges for Fourth Annual ‘CNN Heroes’

By Chris Ariens 

Ricky Martin, Rainn Wilson, Holly Robinson Peete, Sir Richard Branson and Muhammad Ali are among the Blue Ribbon Panelists for the fourth annual “CNN Heroes” event which will air Thanksgiving night.

This year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes, as selected by the panel, will be unveiled next Thursday on with their profiles added to

The event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles will once again be hosted by Anderson Cooper with senior EP Kelly Flynn at the helm. The guest list of presenters and musical performances is still coming together.

More in the press release after the jump…

Fourth Annual ‘CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute’ to Air Thanksgiving Night from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium

“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” to spotlight everyday people who are changing the world, will air on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the program will honor the Top 10 CNN Heroes out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries. The broadcast will also air globally on CNN International and CNN en Espanol.

The broadcast honors the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010, as selected by a Blue Ribbon Panel, all of whom are heroes to others through their continuing commitment to public service. This year’s Blue Ribbon Panel judges include: Muhammad Ali, athlete, humanitarian; Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) and member of the Elders; Sir Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group and the founder of Virgin Unite; Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Grammy award-winning rapper, actor; Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter; Hill Harper, award-winning actor and best-selling author; Patricia Heaton, actress; Yo Yo Ma, Grammy-winning cellist; Ricky Martin, Grammy-winning artist, humanitarian; Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic gold medalist in speed skating; Holly Robinson Peete, actress, author, activist and philanthropist; Alek Wek, supermodel, designer and activist and Rainn Wilson, actor.

This year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes, as selected by the Blue Ribbon Panel, will be unveiled on September 23rd at 1pm ET on and their profiles are available at The public will then select the “CNN Hero of the Year” via voting at the CNN Heroes site through 6am ET on Thursday, November 18th. At the November gala, CNN will honor the Top 10 CNN Heroes, who will each receive $25,000 and reveal the CNN Hero of the Year, who will receive an additional $100,000.

“CNN Heroes has illustrated the best of humanity through the telling of stories of selfless acts of kindness, courage and perseverance” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. “We are honored to bring these Heroes the recognition they so deserve. It is a program the entire CNN family is proud of and excited to share with our viewers on Thanksgiving night.”

More than 20 million people watched CNN Heroes last year. Performers and presenters for the Tribute show will be announced in the weeks to come. Sponsors of this year’s CNN Heroes initiative include Johnson & Johnson, Subaru of America, Inc. and Tide.

Celebrities who will introduce the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2010 in “Sharing the Spotlight” segments which will air weekly on CNN until online voting closes on November 18th include: Dikembe Mutombo, Mira Sorvino, Selena Gomez, Ricki Lake, and Debi Mazar.

Since the inaugural CNN Heroes tribute broadcast in 2007, performers and celebrities who participated include: Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Meg Ryan, Forest Whitaker, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Terrence Howard, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale as well as performances by Grammy Award-winning artists Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys and John Legend.

Award-winning producer/director Joel Gallen returns to executive produce the program. Gallen has helmed the Emmy nominated ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ telethon, supporting victims of the earthquake in Haiti, as well as telethons following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. Gallen won an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for “America: A Tribute to Heroes.” His most recent credits include the 25th anniversary Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and NBC’s THE SING OFF.

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, where she created award-winning documentaries and produced segments for programs such as Week in Rock and Choose or Lose.