Fox aired this first ever prime time animal telethon on Thanksgiving, November 27, 2014. It was produced by Hilary Swank and Michael Levitt, and hosted by Hilary Swank and Jane Lynch.
The two-hour broadcast was star-studded, drool-inducing, laugh-inspiring, tear-jerking production for canine adoption advocacy and to raise money for the PetFinder Foundation. The Foundation provides grants to save the lives of animals in need. Their goal is to prevent euthanasia of adoptable animals.
In a fun, lighthearted spirit that set the tone for the evening, Swank and Lynch opened the show with a skit on an airplane full of dogs. With Lynch, as the pilot, they ‘landed’ the plane at the hanger where the show was staged.
They introduced the major points of the show: Several award categories, an appeal for donations made by text or through the website (fox.com/causeforpaws which is impossible to forget given how frequently it was mentioned in the evening), several pre-recorded segments highlighting organizations dedicated to dog adoption, cruelty prevention, and rescue; and some fun and games thrown in for good measure.
Viewers wishing to adopt the dogs shown on the broadcast could go to the website (fox.com/causeforpaws) and have their name added to a list of people wishing to adopt them. Contact information would be forwarded to the respective agencies and pet parents would be chosen by them to be offered adoption. An appeal was also made for foster homes for dogs.
There was also an awareness purpose to the show as well. Several stars made comments about the true temperament of pitbulls, the importance of spaying and neutering, Black Dog Syndrome (black furred dogs are overwhelmingly left in shelters), 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds, and that Beagles are the preferred breed for laboratory tests because they are one of the most gentle dogs.
Some notable parts of the show were when:
– One of the adoptable dogs Paula Abdul was showing started walking away from her and nearly pulled her down a few stairs.
– An energetic puppy ran between Christen Chenoweth’s legs, prompting her to say that was the most action she’s had in two months.
– Wayne Brady concluded his improv song “I Love Puppies” about dog with an audience-selected name of Egress, which included references to “calamity” and “colonoscopies”. The worst part of his song was at the end, when his fictional dog dies from his GoPro colon examination. A terrible way to end a song at a dog rescue and cruelty-prevention fundraiser.
– Betty White who was talking about how senior shelter dogs are mostly ignored. Either she is getting really old or the teleprompter operator was doing a terrible job because I’ve never seen her struggle with lines like that.
– Kathy Griffin remained surprisingly G-Rated and clothed doing a skit where she challenged a professional show dog to compete against her dog Larry. The only thing the editors had to censor was when Larry relieved himself on the lawn during recording.
By far the most powerful story of the night was the story of John “E.J.” Murray who moves dogs from shelters in California (where the average stay is 4-5 days due to the high kill rate) to shelters in Canada where they are rescued. In two years, he has put over 350,000 miles on his minivan! Toyota stepped up to the plate and gave “EJ” a brand new Sienna. It happened to be in his team’s favorite color. (Liverpool Football Club). His inspiring motto and theme song is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
A major segment of the show was the award categories. They were mostly from online clips of dogs doing cute things. The winning dog and pet parent were featured on the show and given a giant Golden Bone award and a Cause for Paws dog tag. (P.S. I want one of those! They look awesome!) The dogs were fun to watch, but some of the human speeches were painful.
The full award listing is:
The puppies nominated for this award were shown throughout the show. All were available for adoption through the Fox website. SPOILER: At the end, Jane declared all five puppies in this category to be the cutest.
Weirdest Dog Talent
These were the entrants. The winner was Dog Dance Party.
100 Fruits & Vegetables on Dog’s Head in 100 Seconds
Dog Dance Party
Dog Teaching Baby to Jump
The Most Helpful Dog In The World
Pedigree Shelter Hero Of The Year
Presented by Miranda Lambert, a video montage shows the work Bryn Donnelly does going around the country improving shelters.
Rescue Transporter Of The Year
John “E.J.” Murray
Sam Simon Award
This is the first annual presentation of this award, was given to its name-sake. It will be given to people who make a difference significant to people and their canine companions. Sam founded the Sam Simon Foundation which adopts dogs from shelters and then trains them as assistance dogs for the deaf and for veterans. The foundation also runs a mobile free spay and neuter van in L.A. and conduct free surgeries for dogs from low income households. The award was presented by Pamela Anderson, a noted animal welfare advocate and long-time friend of Sam Simon.
The was also a special performance by the Olate Dogs. I’m lucky to get my dog to shake a paw on command, let alone ask him to ride a scooter like the Olate family does!
I was happy to see Jane Lynch do what she does well and host a few special games. This reminded me of the hilarious Hollywood Game Night. I wasn’t disappointed. She was just as funny. Each winner was able to donate $1000 in their name to a dog charity of their choice. The games played on the show include:
That’s My Hound
Max Greenfield had to pick, out of a lineup, which hound he had met before the show started.
Celebrity Dog Lookalike Game
Dogs dressed in costume items were shown on the screen and Sharon and Kelly Osbourne had to buzz in to guess which celebrity they resembled. Kelly won guessing three correct answers to Sharon’s two. For some, the resemblance proved to be uncanny; Samuel L. Jackson, Donald Trump, Tina Turner, and Julia Roberts.
Puppy Love Game
Three child contestants from the show Master Chef Jr. got their faces lathered up in peanut butter and let puppies lick them for 30 seconds. Shawn was declared the winner, having the most (puppy safe) peanut butter licked from his face.
The full list of stars who appeared either in-person or on a pre-recorded segment is as follows:
Jane Lynch, Hilary Swank, Randy Jackson, Julianne Hough, Sherry Osborne, Kelly Osborne, Miranda Lambert, Pink, Max Greenfield, Sohpie Munn, Christen Chenoweth, Miley Cyrus, Josh Duhamel, Amber Riley, Wendie Malick, Betty White, Olivia Newton John, Roselyn Sanchez, Channing and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Paula Abdul, Kathy Griffin, Fergie, David Arquette, Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O’Connell, Gavin Degraw, Cesar Millan, Scarlett Johansson,Wayne Brady, Emmy Rossum, Pamela Anderson, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, and Queen Latifah.
The only person missing, in my opinion, was Sarah McLachlan.
Overall, it was a great production, full of information and avenues for people to get involved in adopting, rescuing, advocating, or simply donation to worthy canine causes. It had tremendous star power behind it and I hope it comes back next year!
Did you watch this as well? What did you think? Share your comments at the top of this post!
UPDATE: Zap2It calculates 4.55 million Live and Same Day viewers of the special! Woo!
All the screenshots are copyright 2014 Fox and its related entities.