Ordinary folks do extraordinary things

Covering global wars, the antagonistic Washington political fray and the ongoing health-care crisis can wear on a cabler’s soul.

Enter “Heroes.”

CNN’s third annual two-hour tribute special — centered on ordinary citizens who accomplish extraordinary things — airs Thanksgiving night from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

Both CNN president Jim Walton and emcee Anderson Cooper say the net’s diversion — from all news all the time to kudocaster — was a way to spotlight folks who didn’t fit into regular programming.

“We witness history, but it’s nice to just be able to tell stories that are changing peoples lives that might not make the news,” says Walton. “We don’t do it for the ratings (last year’s telecast drew about 8 million viewers over multiple telecasts), but for a way for people around the world to get involved.”

At the celeb-studded event — the lineup includes Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson and Neil Patrick Harris, while Leona Lewis and Carrie Underwood will perform — nominees receive $25,000, with the Hero of the Year getting $100,000.

“I was very wary about it the first time I did it (in 2007),” Cooper explains of his hosting the “Heroes” broadcast. “I’m not a big fan of award shows and wasn’t sure how this would work but the people are so compelling. It’s very emotional and caught me by surprise.”

Joel Gallen is exec producer of the “Heroes” kudocast.

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