The Spotlight’s on Animal Lovers with the Genesis Awards

Kristin Davis helping an orphaned elephant.

HBO’s vampire drama True Blood had a unique storyline about a shape-shifter who got caught up in the mean world of dog fighting. DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon film had an inspiring message about tolerance and respect for all living creatures. Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report did a scathing bullfighting satire. And The Oprah Winfrey Show had two outstanding animal-themed shows worthy of recognition. Those productions were among the winners at the annual Genesis Awards, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Plus, Sex in the City’s sweet Kristin Davis received the prestigious Wyler Award in recognition of the attention she has brought to the plight of orphaned African elephants impacted by the increase in poaching for ivory tusks.

Davis was among the compassionate celebrities who came together to be honored and to honor the movies, television and news shows that put animal issues in the spotlight. The Genesis Awards are described as the Oscars for animals, and this year was the 25th anniversary of the celebration put on by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Everyone enjoyed seeing the sassy senior animal lover Betty White on hand with her Hot in Cleveland castmates Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli. They were there to recognize contributions to raising awareness of animal protection issues. White also did a funny presentation with her Mary Tyler Moore Show “boss,” Ed Asner.

Another highlight was seeing Tippi Hedren (The Birds) and James Cromwell (Babe, Secretariat) present the Wyler Award to Kristin Davis. The honor is named for the late Gretchen Wyler, the animal advocate-actress who founded the Genesis Awards. Hedren reminded everyone that Wyler once said, “A Genesis Award honors the goodness of the soul,” and that was certainly the spirit of the event.

Kristin’s life-long passion for elephants was the reason she went on a photo safari to Africa two years ago. On that trip she discovered an abandoned baby elephant and helped take him to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

“I am so excited to receive The Wyler Award because it gives me the opportunity to keep talking about an issue that’s a profound labor of love for me,” Kristin says. “Elephants are truly amazing animals and they need our protection. You can help by not buying items made of ivory.” The U.S. is the second largest consumer of ivory, fueling the demand that leads to the slaughter of elephants.

The line-up of celebrity presenters included Emily Deschanel (Bones), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Michael Vartan (HawthoRNe), Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory), Olivia Munn (The Daily Show) and Grammy nominated singer Leona Lewis. HBO’s True Blood stars Carrie Preston and Lindsay Pulsipher brought Dusty the Dog from their show. Will Estes, the handsome young star of Blue Bloods, said it was a tremendous honor to be a presenter with Sally Pressman from Army Wives, to honor the feature documentary The Elephant in the Living Room — a fascinating look at exotic pet ownership.

Emmy-winning journalist and former Miss USA, Lu Parker won in the News Feature category for covering animal protection issues in the KTLA News segments: “Puppy Mills Exclusive Investigation,” “Dogfighting Investigation” and “Hatchery Hell Investigative Report.” Parker works tirelessly for animal rescue and wellness advocacy and says, “Winning a Genesis Award will always be a highlight in my life. I encourage everyone who has a platform to be the voice for all animal species.”

Who else was there? Stunning Renee Russo, Charlotte Ross, Robert Davi, Esai Morales, and pint-size Atticus Shaffer. Also HSUS president/CEO Wayne Pacelle, who just had his first book published, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.

“This is an awards show that aims to engage, enlighten and entertain its audience. Our nominees are proof that entertainment and social messaging are not mutually exclusive,” says Beverly Kaskey, senior director of the Hollywood office of the HSUS, and executive producer of the Genesis Awards.

Airing on Animal Planet, Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, the 25th Anniversary Genesis Awards also salutes the role the cable network has played in celebrating the animal kingdom over its 15-year broadcasting history. There will be a montage of Animal Planet favorites such as Whale Wars, The Jeff Corwin Experience, Animal Cops, Pit Boss and Jane Goodall’s When Animals Talk. It’s for lovers of all creatures great and small.