Tag Archives: Michael Vartan

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.

Here’s Hoping Montana Fishburne Fails

Montana Fishburne

Here’s hoping Montana Fishburne’s career goes down in flames as soon as possible and she gets some psychological counseling.

In case you’ve missed it, Laurence Fishburne’s 19-year-old daughter, who said in a statement that she aimed to become famous the sex tape way, like her idol, Kim Kardashian, has her first porn video going into release this month.  Its debut was bumped up thanks to the giant attention generated by the scandal she seems to be enjoying to the hilt.

Sadly, she’ll probably get her own show out of it rather than a fast return to anonymity.

This is the latest bucket full of excreta in the media sea of young people degrading themselves to get attention, along with body-baring, acquaintance-groping “reality” shows like “Dating in the Dark” all over the tube, sex being used to market clothing to not only teens, but kids as well, and a variety of skuzzy characters (Snooki) fit for police lineups being lionized as today’s hot celebrities.

We are sad for Laurence Fishburne, whose daughter apparently doesn’t get that it’s not her doing the nasty in public that’s bringing her notoriety — it’s the shameful spectacle of a young woman humiliating her famous father.  Or maybe she does get that.

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE:  Michael Vartan, who is planning to marry fiancé Lauren Skaar in April in California, tells us, “She’s from Minnesota, and I would have loved to have gotten married in a little church there, but most of the people we know are out here.”  Still, the “HawthoRNe” star is impressed by the people of that Land of 10,000 Lakes.  Minnesotans, he’s found, “are salt of the earth people, so easy to get along with.”  You betcha.

GOOD SPORT:  “Zeke & Luther’s” Hutch Dano says the biggest challenge of making his “Den Brother” movie that debuts tonight (8/13) on the Disney Channel was trading his wheels for blades – as in going from skateboarding to ice hockey.  “I trained a couple of months beforehand.  I trained as much as I could to do my own stunts.  I rollerbladed a lot when I was younger and I played roller hockey,” he says.  “But I hadn’t ice skated.  I knew there was no way they were going to make me an amazing hockey player – but they could make me look like an amazing hockey player.”  He’s found, “I love to ice skate.  The best thing for me now is when I get to go out on the ice.”

Dano plays an arrogant high school hockey star who gets roped into leading his little sister’s Bumble Bee troupe as a punishment.  Interacting with little girls was a stunt for which he didn’t have to train.  “I have a little sister who is about the age of the girls in ‘Den Brother,’ so I know how to talk to little girls because of my sister and her friends.”

Michael Vartan Talks Taking Romantic Plunge

Michael Vartan TNT photo

Ooh la la! “HawthoRNe” is doing a full court press with l’amour in the season of the TNT show launching Tuesday (6/22). According to Michael Vartan,the romance soon to break out between his and Jada Pinkett Smith’s characters”feels like deep, intense love and passion — messy, dark and powerful.

“There are a lot of emotions running very deep between these characters. There is the obvious workplace conflict. There is all the history they have,” he continues, speaking of his Dr. Tom Wakefield being chief of surgery and Smith’s Christina Hawthorne being head of nursing at the fictional Virginia hospitalwhere the show takes place. Tom, as viewers know, was also the physician whotried in vain to save her late husband’s life.

“You can either go the ‘Moonlighting’ route and keep the characters apart for 17 years until the audience can’t take anymore, which people have come to expect,” Vartan observes, “or you can take a risk and just do it right away. The writers felt that getting these two together romantically would cause so much conflict it would be interesting and good for the show. It really feels like adifferent show this season.”

Will Smith hangs out on the “HawthoRNe” set a lot. What’s it like doing those sexy scenes with Mrs. Smith in that regard? And how about Vartan’s fiancee, Lauren Skaar?

“Oh, she and Jada are totally cool with one another,” he says. “They’ve had their powwow, I guess. It’s part of the business. It’s also television — a lot tamer than features.”

As far as Will, Vartan gushes to such a degree it sounds like bromance time. “I’d like to say we’re best friends, but that would be me exaggerating. He’s a great guy and one of the nicest guys I know — so much nicer than he needs to be, if you know what I mean. I see him around fans, he truly extends himself …I always like to spend time talking to him because I know he’ll say something ridiculous that will make me laugh.”

Vartan tells us that he and his beautiful blond bride-to-be, who works in real estate, have picked April 2, 2011 as their wedding date — even as his legions of female fans are adjusting to the news that the one-time “Alias” hunk is taken. “We’re still looking around for the place,” he says, “but it will definitely be in the Southern California area.”

Vartan Wants Hiatus Movie Jobs, Will Settle for Dog’s Life

With “Hawthorne” about to wrap production for its first season, Michael Vartan says he’s hoping to fill the TNT show’s eight or nine month hiatus period with movie work.  “One would be fine.  Three would be great.  Or I’ll have down time playing with my dog and watching sports.  Either way it’s a win-win.  I’m a lucky S.O.B.,” declares the handsome actor.

Michael Vartan in "Hawthrone"

Michael Vartan in "Hawthrone"

He’s also planning to “return to my adopted homeland of Australia – my favorite place on earth.  I’ll definitely be spending time there over hiatus.  For the last five years, I’ve been trying to go once, if not twice a year.  I did a movie there four or five years ago.  I’d love to have a little place there at some point, to go and relax.  I love it.  It’s the anti-Hollywood place,” opines Vartan.  As for where he’ll establish his Down Under getaway, he says he has “nothing specific” in mind so far.

Meanwhile, he points out, “I’m one of those actors who understand how difficult it is to find good work in this business.  Having a show like ‘HawthoRNe’ that you feel proud of to go back to in its second season – hopefully — is a wonderful thing,” he says of the well-received Jada Pinkett Smith medical drama that’s earned very healthy ratings so far.

“It’s a great job.  We have long hours, but I was on ‘Alias’ for five years.  That was a great fun show to work on but the hours on that truly were brutal.  On top of the acting scenes, there were stunts, helicopters, fights.  There were almost always 16 to 18-hour days on that one.  This one has 12 to 15-hour days.  That’s not too bad,” says Vartan.

He adds that “Everyone’s really down to earth and relaxed.  As an added bonus, as far as the production goes, the people in charge are really, really nice.  Some of the producers I’ve worked with in the past haven’t been the most tactful in the world.  With this, Jada’s surrounded herself with people she likes and trusts, who are cooperative and creative.”

A NEW CHAPTER:  “I’m writing a book right now and I’m tending to my social life in a way you can’t do when you’re touring,” says musician Alanis Morissette, who’s taking a small break from music and also guest starring on Showtime’s “Weeds.”

The book is something the singer has been working on for quite some time, and while it will be revealing, she tells us it won’t give away too much.  “I don’t call it a memoir because I’m too bored with my own personal life story to even write it.  It should be read in a linear way so it will be very conversational, but it will touch on all of the things I’m obsessed with – self care, women’s issues, health issues, relationship issues,” explains Morissette.  “There will be great photographs from traveling all over the planet so many times.  There will certainly be personal insight with Q&A’s but it won’t be a memoir, no.”

INSTANT PRODUCTIONNeil Patrick Harris, who delivers a very nice solo in the “Prop. 8: The Musical” Funny Or Die video that hit the internet and went viral last fall, says he’s absolutely open to doing more work with the assemblage of talent that came together to make it, including composer Marc Shaiman and director Adam Shankman.  “Those things happen so quickly and so randomly,” he says.  “I got the call from Adam Shankman, and he asked, ‘What are you doing on Thursday?’  That’s how fast those guys worked.”  The satirical piece – also starring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph and others – won a Webby award this past Spring.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW:  “Who would have thought it would have gone on this long?” says Tom Lennon about his popular Comedy Central series “Reno 911!” which is currently in its sixth season.  Part of the reason it works, he notes, is because many of the cast members have been friends for yours and genuinely enjoy working with each other.  “Kerri (Kenney-Silver), Ben (Garant), and I have basically been doing this kind of stuff together since we were 18.”  The three of them began performing improv together at New York University where they were part of the group The State.

“We legitimately crack each other up,” Lennon tells us. “We sit around in some dingy room thinking of horrible scenarios.  We don’t really know anything else other than sitting around with each other and trying to think of awkward, uncomfortable situations that we can put each other in.”  At this point he feels like their comedy has become one in the same.  “You do tend to get in sync.  Sometimes we write the same exact jokes as each other.  Ben and I do that a lot.  We’ll go away and write a scene and when we come back it’s like identical to what the other one wrote.  I think they call it twin speak.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster