The 23rd Genesis Awards

For 23 years, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has presented the Genesis Awards to entertainment media and major news outlets. The Genesis Awards recognize film and television productions, as well as news broadcasts and published articles, that raise public awareness and understanding of animal rights issues. On Saturday, March 28th, celebrities, media professionals and animal advocates of all kinds gathered at the Beverly Hilton to honor the 2008 Genesis Award recipients.

A crowd of onlookers clustered around the red carpet to catch glimpses of stars including Emily Deschanel, James Cromwell, Ginnifer Goodwin, Joe Montegna and Clyde, best known as "Marley" from the film "Marley and Me." After enjoying a vegan dinner prepared by Chef Tal Ronnen, Beverly Kaskey, senior director of HSUS Los Angeles, welcomed everyone to the event. "In difficult economic times, I would like to thank you for also considering the animals," said Kaskey as she acknowledged sponsors, HSUS members, and supporters of the event.

Nigel Barker, renowned fashion and portrait photographer and judge on "America’s Next Top Model", kicked off the event by describing his role as spokesperson for HSUS’s Canadian Seal Hunt Campaign. Barker traveled with a team to the Canadian ice flows to document the birthing of baby seals, and returned with the team two weeks later when hunting season began. "Seals are bludgeoned and skinned alive," said Barker. "Baby seals as young as 12 days old are allowed to be killed by hunters for their fur." In an effort to end the 300 year old practice of the seal hunt, Barker and the HSUS are encouraging a boycott of Canadian seafood, seal product bans in all major global markets, and general public awareness and education.

Prior to presenting the "Sid Caesar Comedy Award," Hal Sparks remarked he was glad to be standing before "like-minded people who all needed a lint roller." The award was presented to "The Simpsons" for their episode entitled "Apocalypse Cow." In this episode, Bart is devastated when the award-winning 4-H Club cow he raised is destined to be killed in a slaughter house. Producer Al Jean indicated the show was meant to show both sides of the story, and illustrate the need to make conscious choices about what we eat.

"Grey’s Anatomy" executive producer Tony Phelan said of "Life During Wartime," the Dramatic Series winning episode, "I was on the other side of the fence on this issue, but Kathy Heigl really insisted and pushed me to do this episode." The episode explores the use of live animals in medical research and training.

"Handy Manny" was the winner of the Children’s Programming category with an episode entitled "Manny’s Mouse Traps." Rick Gitelson, executive producer, credited his wife with giving him the need to "teach kids good values and good morals." The episode follows Manny as he creates a humane method of solving a neighbor’s mouse problem. "The episode was dedicated to Nibbles, our guinea pig. Nibbles escaped from his cage and we looked everywhere for him. After two weeks, we found him sitting back in his cage. He came back to us!"

Throughout the course of the evening, HSUS highlighted achievements that have been made during the past year, including a ban on greyhound racing in Massachusetts and the closing of puppy mills nation-wide. The evening concluded with a silent auction and a Las Vegas themed after-party for all award show guests. William Mueller, creative executive for Esperanza Productions, LLC and first time attendee of the Genesis Awards, felt the show highlighted some very important issues while remaining entertaining. "Some of the subject matter is incredibly depressing, but all these issues are very important," said Mueller. "I’m very happy I attended this event."

Winners of the 23rd Annual Genesis Awards are:

Feature Film: Bolt (Walt Disney Pictures)
Sid Caesar Comedy Award: The Simpsons / Apocalypse Cow (Fox)
Dramatic Series: Grey’s Anatomy / Life During Wartime (ABC)
Children’s Programming: Handy Manny / Manny’s Mouse Traps (Disney Channel/Nelvana, Ltd.)
TV Newsmagazine — National: 20/20 / Elephant PTSD (ABC)
TV Newsmagazine — Cable: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel / Hidden Horses (HBO/HBO Sports)
National News Feature: World News with Charles Gibson / Monkey Business, Person of the Week, Rescuing Racehorses, Saving the Rhinos, and wolf segments (ABC)
Local News Series: (Tie) KGO—TV (Bay Area) / I-Team Investigation: Battery Cages and KLAS—TV8 (Las Vegas) / Elephant Abuse: Life on the Road
Local News Feature: KHOU—TV (Houston) / Slaughtergate
TV Documentary: Blinders (Documentary Channel)
Unscripted Television Series: 30 Days / Animal Rights (FX)
Talk Show: The Oprah Winfrey Show / multiple shows (Syndicated)
Brigitte Bardot International: Sweden TV 4 Fatka / The Mong Lah Connection (Swiss National Television)
Outstanding Written Word / Series of Newspaper Articles: USA Today
Outstanding Written Word / News Magazine: Newsweek / Extinction Trade
Outstanding Written World / Magazine: Sports Illustrated / The Good News Out of the Bad Newz Kennels
Brigitte Bardot International — Print: Daily Mail (UK) multiple articles
Special Recognition: Santa Barbara News—Press / Multiple editorials