There was certainly no rubber chicken at this event. The Genesis Awards, which were handed out at the Beverly Hilton, pride themselves on serving a completely vegan menu to awards show attendees. (If you enjoy gardein—fake chicken—stuffed with vegan cheese and pine nuts, you were in luck.)
Yet nothing could be more appropriate under the circumstances as the 24th edition of the show, presented by the Hollywood office of the Humane Society of the United States, honored those writers, producers, directors and other creators whose artistry and integrity in television, film, newspapers and magazines have increased public awareness of animal rights and protection issues.
As the Humane Society puts it, even watchdogs need watchdogs. And with this being the year that "The Cove" won the Academy Award for best documentary, attention around animal rights issues is white-hot. Not surprisingly, "The Cove" also took home the Genesis Award for its exposé of Japan’s shameful slaughter of dolphins. And the creative team, including director Louie Psihoyos, got to hold up their “Text DOLPHIN to 44144” sign for as long as they wanted, to huge applause from the jam-packed International Ballroom.
Some very tough calls had to be made in the television categories. For dramatic series, a "Bones" episode entitled "The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken"– a complex mystery that involved inhumane treatment of chickens at slaughter houses– went up against multiple episodes of "The Closer" which depicted the bond between people and animals and the sadness that comes when it’s time to let a cherished house cat go. “Bones” took home the statuette.
Clips from shows vying for the Sid Caesar Comedy Award were intro’d by Jon Lovitz, and had the crowd in stitches. "Family Guy’s" episode “Dog Gone” won for using the animated show’s signature satiric humor to highlight the contradictory ways in which people treat animals and the apathy that allows many types of exploitation and abuse to continue. The other contending episodes were from "Monk," with a look at how having a dog can be fulfilling to even an obsessive-compulsive detective who doesn’t like dog hair on the furniture and “South Park,” which skewered the hypocrisy in choosing which animals people are willing to fight for and which they decide it’s okay to kill and eat.
“60 Minutes” and “Nightline” competed for the prize in the television news magazine category, but “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” won for multiple segments taking a stand against animal cruelty and bringing to light some of the most egregious cases.
In the news feature category, KCBS/KCAL-TV in Los Angeles was awarded the Genesis for its stories on abuse at animal shelters and an investigation into real fur in clothing that is labeled as faux fur. KLAS TV 8 in Las Vegas won for exposing the little-known black market for shark fin soup that thrives in the US, especially at Vegas hotels catering to Asian high-rollers who look upon it as a status symbol.
"The Today Show" took home the statue for a series of reports by Jill Rappaport that spotlighted various animal rights issues, including a moving piece about a temporary sanctuary for pets of deployed military personnel.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show" bested "Larry King Live" in the talk show category for a conversation Ellen had with “Eating Animals” author Jonathan Safran Foer.
The television documentary award went to HBO’s “Death on a Family Farm," an undercover investigation into abuse at an Ohio hog farm and the ensuing trial in which the scales of justice tipped in favor of big agribusiness.
In the reality series competition, Animal Planet’s "Whale Wars" won for taking viewers onto the front lines of the heroic struggle to save whales from being slaughtered in the name of scientific research.
One of the evening’s biggest highlights came when Melanie Griffith presented her mother, Tippi Hedren, with the HSUS lifetime achievement award for her four decades of work in protecting animals.
But the biggest winners are the untold millions of creatures around the world whose lives may be saved by the spotlight the media shines on their plight– and whose good work the Humane Society applauds.
(The 24th Genesis Awards air on Animal Planet on April 24 and 25.) (By the way, we found the vegan joke in the headlne on an internet site, contributed by someone just calling himself or herself Pat.) #