A radical animal rights group attempted to disrupt the Humane Society of the U.S.'s Genesis Awards, held Saturday, March 29, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, claiming that Los Angeles is the country's number one puppy killer because our pounds euthanize unwanted animals.
The foiled protest (the dozen or so protesters were instantly escorted off the property) seemed a tad ironic considering the award show was honoring news and entertainment media for raising public awareness of animal issues.
The hiccup didn't stop the show's celebrity presenters like Linda Cardellini (ER), Bill Maher, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Loretta "Hot Lips" Swit and Esai Morales from hoofin' it up and having fun.
Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere double dipping at Genesis and the same-night Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards picked up a Wyler Award (named after Broadway headliner and animal activist Gretchen Wyler) for "making news on behalf of animals." Remember the worldwide attention Panettiere's oceanic meltdown garnered after she failed to save slaughtered whales off the coast of Japan?
Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle tells us that animal rights and the environmental movement go hand in hand. "There's an inseparability between animals and the environment. In order to give animals homes, we need to protect the state of the atmosphere and not have greenhouse gases because animals will suffer if we do. We have to be concerned about this thin layer of life on this very small planet."
Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, and Abbey the German shepherd
So what's big on the Humane Society agenda right now? "We've got about twenty major measures at the federal level," Wayne says, "everything from stopping aerial gunning of wolves to preventing the use of certain pets in research facilities to updating penalties for animal fighting. Our biggest statewide issue is on California's upcoming November ballot, and it is to ban keeping animals in cages or crates to be raised for food such as veal crates, gestation crates for pigs and cages for egg-laying hens."
Joy Lauren, Bree's naughty daughter on Desperate Housewives, sounds more like a farmer's daughter. She tells us: "I have horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens and hens. My best friend's a horse trainer." So it's no surprise her favorite animal movie is Homeward Bound, and if she could come back as an animal in her next life, it would be as a cat. "They hang out all day and lie in the sun," she says. "When they want to go off by themselves, they do."
Actor Eric Roberts also has all kinds of animals roaming his solar-powered home: horses, dogs, cats and birds. Julia's big bro tells us: "Solar's overpriced but it's gonna come down and right now we have to set an example when we can."
Tony Denison (Closer) has five cats at home. "First one I ever had lived to 19 years old. I got spoiled. I thought all cats lived that long," he says. The animal-lover cites Benji as his favorite animal flick. "When that eagle swept down and got one of those cubs I'm a grown man, but I was crying in that theater," he confesses. The long-time vegetarian also shares that in his next life, he'd come back as a tiger. "They're just so regal. And then I'd chase all the people that were cruel to animals." Tony the Tiger...grrrrr.
Wendy Malick and Tony Denison with Karl Ammann (wildlife photographer and winner of Genesis Award)
Just Shoot Me actress and voice-over queen Wendy Malick says Old Yeller was a "real defining movie in my young life." The eco-activist lives completely off the grid and admits a slight downside to the lifestyle: "On rainy days, you can't blow-dry your hair," she laughs.
Actor and comedian Hal Sparks cracked wise when he talked about his pet mouse. "I made him appear in a magic trick so now I'm responsible for him. I hear him at night on his wheel going round and round and I'm like, 'Dude, you know you're never getting away. You do know that, right? At least you're not in a lab at UCLA being given cancer of some sort. Or being eaten by a snake.'"
Eco activism's been part of the Sparks family for decades: In the '70s, Sparks's dad worked on two of the first solar underground residences in their home state of Kentucky. "I remember going to these homes and thinking, 'I want a house in a cave, just like this,'" said Sparks. These days Sparks tells us he's building an above-ground green house. "It'll be completely solar. My main goal is to dump power back into the grid."
And of course there was the inevitable red carpet political talk, none more passionate than from Babe actor James Cromwell. "I'm supporting Barack Obama for the hope and dream he engenders in young people and for those who've been out of the process who now think this is an opportunity for us to take back the power. The power resides with the people."
Harrison Ford slimed
Meanwhile, back at the Kids Choice Awards, one of our eco-heroes, Harrison Ford, was honorably slimed with green glop. Somehow seems fitting.
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