Gallen tapped to lead 'CNN Heroes'


NEW YORK -- CNN has hired noted events producer-director Joel Gallen to lead its "CNN Heroes" awards fete, honoring ordinary people who do extraordinary things. It will be televised live worldwide Dec. 6.

The Emmy- and Peabody-winning Gallen produced and directed the musical telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes" days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as well as "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and White House specials during the Clinton years.

"This is something that's important to CNN, and we feel it's important to those people we're going to showcase that we treat them with the class they deserve," CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton said. "We wanted to bring in a first-rate event producer, and that's Joel."

The "CNN Heroes" awards mark the extraordinary deeds done by regular people all around the world in areas like civil rights, health care and the environment. The telecast, set to air live at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 6, will be hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper and will originate from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It will air on CNN and CNN International. Soon-to-be-named celebrities and musical acts also will be featured, as will short produced pieces highlighting the work of each honoree.

"These are the true heroes who make our world better," Gallen said. "That's what inspired me. Instantly I was moved by the concept."

Walton said he hopes that the program and the event itself will inspire other people around the world to do good. Gallen agrees.

"I think people want to see real people doing heroic things, and I think you'll see celebrities coming out of the woodwork and musicians who will want to be a part of it, too," Gallen said.