Tag Archives: Betty White

Two Legged and Four Legged Stars Shine at Hero Dog Awards

Betty White, Pauley Perrette, Karen Ann and hero dogsBetty White, Jennifer Coolidge, Naomi Judd and Pauley Perrette were among the pack of celebrities who turned out to honor some of the best and brightest in the canine community at the Third Annual Hero Dog Awards the other night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  Hosted by Joey Lawrence, the event will be shown on The Hallmark Channel October 30.

Betty proved once again that at age 91, her comedy chops remain in formidable shape, as she and Pauley presented the Guide Dog Award — and got some of the biggest laughs of the night.  She loves anyone who has a leg on each corner, she said.  Coolidge riffed on all the things she could give up in life in order to donate more money to dog charities, starting with the top money-sucker on her list, boyfriends, and including bikini waxes (now that she has no boyfriends, why bother?) and drinking out on the town on Tuesdays.

Las Vegas Headliner of the Year Frankie Moreno and his hot-looking coed band had the house on its feet. Ryan O’Neal and son Redmond were there to accept special recognition on behalf of the late Farrah Fawcett, for her support of shelter dog adoptions.

But the real stars of the evening were the super dogs.  For example, Search and Rescue Dog honoree John D.   He is one of the canines whose uncanny cancer-detecting ability is leading researchers toward early detection protocols for ovarian, thyroid and other cancers.  He is also a wonder dog when it comes to finding missing persons.  The story of how John D found the body of a boy who had drowned, then went to the boy’s waiting mom and leaned hard against her to let her know, had more than a few people in tears.

So did the story of Law Enforcement/Arson Dog Lakota, who was remarkable among K9 crime fighters.  After they got into a horrific accident, his human partner refused to give up hope on the dog, and a whole community wound up pulling for – and contributing to – Lakota’s return to ambulatory shape.

The over-all Hero Dog Award winner, Therapy Dog Elle, makes a statement in her own right – about what marvelous pets and helpers Pit Bulls can be. For anyone who has ever cared about man’s and woman’s best friend, the Hero Dog Awards promise a heart-touching evening.

Celebrities Celebrate Beastie Besties at Hero Dog Awards

Dogs have always been man’s best friend, but it’s only been in the last few decades that we have started behaving as if it works both ways.  That’s an encapsulation of an idea that Betty White expressed last night, when she was honored at the Second Annual American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards — and Betty is one who would know.

The 90-year-old national treasure has been an animal lover throughout her lifetime, of course, going back to the days that, according to her, animal advocates were viewed as “a bunch of zealots” and our beastie besties were strictly considered beneath us.  Now, though, every year we’re discovering more capabilities of these wonderful creatures, Betty enthused.

Kristin Chenoweth presents a new line of greeting cards for dogs — not too seriously — at the Hero Dog Awards

At the Hero Dog Awards, many of these remarkable capabilities were celebrated, as eight Hero Dog honorees and their stories were introduced with the help of emcee Kristin Chenoweth (and her own dog, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth), Joey Lawrence, Jewel, Pauley Perette, Kellie Martin, Denise Richards, Naomi Judd, Mark Steines, Jake T. Austin and other celebs.

For instance, there’s Jynx, the Law Enforcement/Arson Dog honoree.  He was on duty with his handler, Deputy Sheriff Kyle Pagerly of the Berks County Sheriff’s Department, and other officers in rough terrain — and the German Shepherd alone detected a bad guy lying in wait, ready to ambush the law men with a sub machine gun and a cache of other weapons.  Jynx alerted the deputies to the gunman’s presence, attacked the gunman — who nevertheless managed to fire several shots at Pagerly — and then attempted to pull his wounded master to safety.    Pagerly died at the hospital, but the other officers on the scene that day feel they owe the hero dog their lives.   Jynx now lives with Pagerly’s widow and baby daughter.   It was Mrs. Pagerly, only a few weeks pregnant when she lost her 28-year-old husband,  who tearfully accepted Jynx’ award — and a heartfelt standing ovation from the crowd.

There are stories of therapy dogs who’ve saved lives and brought troubled humans out of their shells, stories of courageous canines on the battlefield, dogs who’ve given people with disabilities ways to live normal lives.   Yes, have the hankies handy if you watch the Hero Dog Awards on The Hallmark Channel November 8.  Each honoree is loveable and deserving, unlike other awards shows we could name.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, where such galas as the Golden Globes take place, was again the setting for the Hero Dog Awards, with quite a few canines, large and small, there to enjoy the event first-paw.  (Whatever must those doggies have thought of being applauded by a ballroom full of people?)  The crowd feasted upon sauteed tenderloin of beef and seared citrus olive marinated filet of sea bass — and a dessert of espresso almond tiramisu in a chocolate cup, complete with white chocolate hero dog medallions.   For those who watched the first Hero Dogs Awards last year, with Carson Kressley as host — expect a more even program this year.



Valerie Harper: Series That Make Fun of Seniors Not for Her

Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper may return to the series scene this year —  but it won’t be in a vehicle that’s mean-spirited toward the senior set.  The four-time Emmy winner is awaiting word on two pilots and says, “I’d love to do a series again and stay on the West Coast, but it has to be right.  I turned down two pilots last year because they didn’t feel right to me.”

 She explains, “I’ve been offered things that kind of make fun of older people, but not in a humorous way.  It’s almost like a bunch of young guys in a room said, ‘Oh, what’s funny about an old woman?’  And then it gets to be tiresome.  You can be absolutely legitimately funny with older people.  Phil Rosenthal, who wrote ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ — the older couple played by Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle in that show were hilarious.  But it wasn’t vulgar about her wanting a boob job or this or that — stuff that isn’t real.”

Harper, who’s among the stars of  Saturday’s (1/7) Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Fixing Pete” — is certainly no prig.  For instance, “I did ‘Sex in the City,’ which was a wonderful show,” she notes.  “You could say it was vulgar, but it was vulgarity in the service of comedy.”

And of course, she was absolutely bawdy, naughty and witty as notorious 1930s actress Tallulah Bankhead (“I’m pure as the driven slush”) in Looped, the role that brought her a 2010 Tony nomination.  “I think we’re going to tour that, but it’s hard,” she says.  “The truth is, most of the touring companies now are musicals, but this, Looped, was so hilariously funny.  Tony and I are talking about it.  He produced it,” she says, referring to her husband of 24 years, Tony Cacciotti.

Harper says she didn’t hesitate when it came to joining the cast of the very light romantic comedy, “Fixing Pete.”  Her newspaper editor-in-chief role was “different for me — to play that kind of power person.  She has her eye on saving the paper.  In this time of papers going under, she’s grasping.  And she’s got this guy (Dylan Bruno) who’s a real mess but he’s popular and the sports pages are what’s keeping her circulation going.”  Harper’s character assigns rising fashion editor Brooke Burns to give the manchild a makeover to make him more presentable before he goes out on a book tour, and a battle of the sexes ensues.  “I thought it harkened back to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  Brooke and Dylan did a fun job,” Harper says. 

The actress, whose other recent turns have included playing a judge on “Drop Dead Diva” and the boozy aunt of Teri Hatcher on “Desperate Housewives,” also has her work as a Screen Actors Guild board member keeping her busy these days — and she’s part of SAG’s taskforce to help returning veterans find jobs.

She comments, “The older I get, the more I like being a crone.  You know, the crones were the wise old women of the village.  I don’t have to be cute.”

MEANWHILE:  Harper is looking forward to being on hand for Betty White’s 90th Birthday celebration on NBC Jan. 16.  The two have remained friends since their “Mary Tyler Moore Show” days, and Harper admits she’s in awe.  “Betty is just an incredible woman, still going strong and doing all her stuff for animals.  We see each other, yes, and I often call her for advice.  I’ll say, ‘We found a cat.  Where do we take it?’  And she’ll say, ‘Oh, Valerie, there’s a no-kill shelter not too far from your house…’  And she always knows.  She’s so involved, so on top of it all.” 

NO EXCUSES:  The story of blind high school football player Travis Freeman is getting the movie treatment as “Sight Unseen.”   The film is now planned to begin production in early April in Kentucky, where the real story took place in the 1980s and 90s.  Patricia Clarkson and Dylan Baker are set to star, and the cast is being filled out.  When he was 12, Freeman nearly died and lost his sight in a battle with bacterial meningitis — but that didn’t stop him from playing center for the Corbin High Redhounds.  He claimed blindness could even be an asset, in that opponents couldn’t use visual techniques to fake him out.  He ran sprints, thrilled and inspired his teammates with his willingness to try anything.  Good story. 

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  Large guys rule in “Take Down the House,” a comedy feature now in preproduction that’s being referred to as a “revenge of the fatties.”  It’s about four young overweight dudes glad to have left their high school bullies behind and moved on to college, only to find a frat pack waiting to humiliate them.  But this time, they’re not taking it anymore.

Carson Kressley Tests His Emcee Skills With Hero Dog Awards

Carson Kressley, Betty White "Hero Dog Awards"

 The inimitable Carson Kressley shows off his abilities as an awards show emcee tonight (11/11) on the American Humane Association’s “Hero Dog Awards,” which “isn’t exactly the Golden Globes, but it’s a start,” he says. 

It also happens to be Carson’s birthday, and the long-time animal advocate and doggie devotee couldn’t be happier about sharing his day with the group of corageous and care-giving canines who became finalists in this first annual event honoring top dogs. 

“It’s amazing to see these stories of rescue dogs on 9/11, dogs serving in Iraq” — appropriately enough, this Veterans Day — “and dogs helping people with disabilities live a more full life.  It runs the gamut,” he says. 

 Not only that, “The dogs were actually better behaved than most celebrities at awards shows.  No one called each other names or touched me inappropriately,” he says of the service animals present for the affair in the famous Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom.   


As far as taking on hosting chores, Carson tells us, “I have people over all the time, and it was just like that, except Betty White and Peter Fonda were there.  I think the producers did a great job making a top-notch event.  I was shocked by how glamorous and well-run it turned out to be.”  The affair also attracted Julianne Hough, Michael Vartan, Pauley Perrette, Joey Lawrence, Victoria Stilwell, Faith Ford and other celebs.

Plus, “I got to have a TV moment with Betty White,” Carson says.  “Of course, she’s such a legend.  I got to interview her and I said, ‘You’re the most loved celebrity in Hollywood,’ and she said, ‘No I’m not.’  And I said, ‘Yes you are!’…

“She’s so professional, so old school, she had her script memorized,” he adds.  Nevertheless, there was a brief moment of confusion involving the Teleprompter, and Carson stepped forward onstage and “tapped her on the shoulder.  She turned around and said, ‘Who told you you could touch me?!’  And I was like, ‘What?’ And then she embraced me and I knew we were good to go,” he brightly relates.  The recent “Dancing With the Stars” contestant then danced the octogenarian Golden Girl off the stage.

Carson says he will soon be celebrating his birthday with a trip to Buenos Aires, “now that I know how to tango, and before I forget.”

Guide Dog Who Led Owner Down 78 Flights of Stairs on 9/11 Honored as Canine-loving Celebrities Turn Out for HERO DOG AWARDS

Carson Kressley, Darla the Cesar Spokesdog, Julianne Hough Hallmark Channel photo

Betty White, Julianne Hough, Michael Vartan, Pauley Perrette, Joey Lawrence, Victoria Stilwell, Faith Ford and a pack of other dog-loving celebrities turned out to honor extraordinary canines at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards over the weekend.  There were lots of laughs with host Carson Kressley.  Presenters including Peter Fonda added memorable moments.  And performances by Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik were beautiful and moving.   But clearly, the celebrities of the night were Sadie, Zurich, Stacey Mae, Bino, Sage, Harley, Ricochet and the late, great guide dog Roselle, who safely led her blind partner, Michael Hingson, down 78 flights of stairs in Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Each Hero Dog’s story — with their amazing abilities and depth of devotion — is enough to bring tears to the eyes of animal lovers.  The show, airing Nov. 11 on Hallmark Channel, is not to be missed.

“I love dogs and any event that we can honor these great creatures, as much as they do for us, I want to be there for them,” Joey Lawrence told us before the start of the show that took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  “I think it’s cool.”  (By the way, Joey has a Black Labrador, an Australian Heeler and a German Shepherd at home.)  

The “Melissa & Joey” star presented honors to Emerging Hero Dog Ricochet — a Golden Retriever who surfs with special needs children and disabled adults.  Video of Ricochet’s story of finding her own calling after being released from a service dog training program went viral with 3.6 million views.

Betty White, looking smashing in red, talked with a twinkle about her beloved Pontiac — her Golden Retreiver — before giving a presentation that ended with her literally dancing into the wings with Carson Cressley.  Carson’s “Dancing With the Stars” pro partner, Anna Trebunskaya, was on hand in the audience to cheer him on.  

Cesar canine cuisine sponsored the event, and the company’s Westie  spokesdog was there to present one of the awards with Pauley Perrette.  The “NCIS” actress cuddled the pooch and pronounced him (actually, it’s a her) her favorite copresenter ever before noting that you’ve got to love an awards show where it’s okay to have animal fur on your clothes.

Guests dined on seabass and tenderloin of beef accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and herb grilled tomatoes, and a chocolate mousse dessert garnished with a white chocolate cartoon dalmation and a dark chocolate Hero Dog bone.

We caught up with Hingson backstage after Roselle was proclaimed the top dog among top dogs.   

Michael Hingson and Roselle

“She was a great dog.  I’m just so, so happy she was honored.  We’re really excited,” he said.  Hingson’s 9/11 experience with his faithful guide leading him down 1,463 stairs — occasionally being petted and greeted by firefighters on their way up — led him into a new career.  He’s working with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and has traveled all over the country and abroad giving keynote speeches that promote dogs, teamwork and trust.  He’s delighted that the Hero Dog Awards will raise even more awareness of the incredible assets of these canine companions.  “I’m hoping to have a chance to do more work with the American Humane Association,” he says.

“I loved her and I miss her so much,” he adds of the yellow Lab, who died just this past summer.  “I tell people that whenever someone wants in heaven, they ring the bell at the door and she barks, telling St. Peter, ‘Better get that.'”

Here’s hoping that this Inaugural Hero Dog Awards event will be the first of many, many more.