LOS ANGELES, CA February 18, 2015 — Move over, Oscars! Today, American Humane Association is revealing the REAL winners of this year’s top acting awards with the PAWSCARS™, honoring the top animal stars in film and television. Hosted by TV superstar Pauley Perrette and Lou Wegner, the 2015 American Humane Association PAWSCARS are now available for viewing online at www.americanhumane.org.
Best Puppy Under Pressure – “The Interview”
One of the most infamous movies from 2014 was “The Interview,” and its cutest star was certainly Wolfie, a King Charles spaniel who appeared in the film. American Humane Association always made sure Wolfie was kept safe, especially in the midst of all the chaos and action. He was never near any of the explosions, gunfire, or loud noise – all that was added in post-production, or a stuffed double was used. In the boat scenes, Wolfie was always kept strapped-in for safety, while in between takes, he was kept warm with a hot water bottle.
Best Magical Cow – “Into The Woods”
While “The Interview” didn't get any Oscar nominations, this PAWSCAR winner got three Oscar nominations as well. “Into The Woods” is Disney's version of the Stephen Sondheim fairy tale mash-up musical. The award for Best Magical Cow goes to "Milky White" played by animal actor Tug. In the film, Jack trades his family's white cow for magic beans. In the scene where Jack milks her, American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives™ were just off camera making sure she stood still and that Jack was taught how to milk the cow before attempting it on camera. In the scene where Tug is eating odd things like hair and old shoes, she was actually fed edible substitutes and in the scene where she collapses it was not her at all, it was a fake prop cow.
Best Aquatic Performance – “Dolphin Tale 2”
In this sequel to “Dolphin Tale,” Winter's companion Savannah, dies of old age and the aquarium has just 30 days to find Winter a new mate. When an injured baby dolphin is found stranded on a sandbar, they name her Hope in the "hope" that she will become Winter's new companion. American Humane Association checked all swimming areas for potential hazards and saw that the dolphins never worked more than an hour without a break. When audiences saw Savannah lying at the bottom of the tank, it was not a real dolphin, but an animatronic prop.
Best Chase Sequence – “Sex Tape”
In this film, Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz try to track down their personal sex tape which has accidentally been sent to their friends. As Segal is searching one friend's home, he encounters a German shepherd – played by both Nicki and King – and the chase is on; American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives were on set for those scenes. In the treadmill gag, the machine was never running when the dog was on it; stuffed animals and CGI were used for all the dangerous parts and the full scene was put together in post-production.
Best Supporting Equine – “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is part of a hugely successful franchise that regularly gets awards for its visual effects. Now it wins a PAWSCAR, not for its apes, but for a horse named Dale ridden by the apes’ leader, Caesar. It looks like he – and the other Apes – are riding bareback but that is just another example of movie magic. The actors playing the apes on horseback used saddles, so Dale and the other horses were dotted with special effects markers which allowed the saddles to be eliminated in post-production. American Humane Association made sure those markers were non-toxic and they also had the horses fitted with rubber hooves for scenes when they were on pavement. In scenes where there was gunfire, flames, or explosions, the horses were always filmed separately away from that action. Even when they jumped over “fire,” the horses were merely jumping over a one foot high bar with flickering lights.
Best Young Animal Performer(s) – “The Drop”
“The Drop” is a tense mob drama notable for being James Gandolfini's final film. At the heart of its story is a pit bull puppy named Rocco. Since puppies grow up so quickly, the production had to employ three separate puppies T, Puppers, and Ice – to maintain age continuity. Because different puppies were used to play the same character, some make-up was needed to make them all match. American Humane Association made sure that the makeup used was nontoxic. Certified Animal Safety Representatives ensured that none of the pups were overworked, asked to do anything outside of their capabilities, and that they had a safe and comfortable environment on set and off.
Best Ensemble – “Wild”
This award may seem like an odd choice considering that the film is about Reese Witherspoon's character hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone. But she's not alone, and along the way she encounters a horse played by Muffet, a fox played by Dharma, a rattlesnake played by Fred, a dog played by Tess, a rabbit played by Sport, and even a llama played by Taiga. American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives checked every area where the animals worked and supervised the scenes to make sure none were put in harm's way. In the scene where frogs are released on to Witherspoon, the area was surrounded with a one foot-high barrier so that none of them got away and all 40 frogs were kept safe.
This year, American Humane Association’s “No Animals Were Harmed®” program celebrates 75 years as the only official film-industry sanctioned group ensuring the humane protection, safety and welfare of animal actors on the sets of movies, television shows, and commercial shoots. Each year the program oversees the protection of more than 100,000 animal actors on more than 2,000 sets in the U.S. and around the globe. In honor of this special anniversary, American Humane Association reflected on the history of animal actors and asked America who its favorite dog and cat stars of all time were. With 2,527 votes, the results were….
Top Dog Star of all Time – Lassie
This lovable collie has been around for more than 75 years. Her first movie was “Lassie Come Home” with Elizabeth Taylor in her first starring role. Taylor was paid $100 a week, but Lassie got $250. There have been many more movies since then as well as a really successful television series. Lassie was the first animal actor to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the first inductee into the Animal Actors Hall of Fame. She has a long relationship with American Humane Association, winning 11 of its Animal Television Star Awards, the PATSYs.
Top Cat Star of all Time – Sassy
This Himalayan cat starred in Disney's “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” and the sequel, “Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco.” In both films, Sassy was played by a cat named Tiki and voiced by Oscar winner Sally Field.
Finally, a very special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to….
Lifetime Diva Achievement Winner – Crystal
This beloved capuchin monkey has been an animal star for 18 years starring in more than 25 films including the “Night At The Museum” series, “The Hangover: Part 2,” “American Pie,” and the “Dr. Doolittle” films, as well as television shows, and commercials. One amazing fact about Crystal is that she is a rescue animal. Crystal is far from the only rescue animal working today: approximately 80 percent of the cats and dogs you see on the large and small screen are rescues or adopted from shelters. This monkey is so beloved that the late Robin Williams called her “his favorite leading lady.”
“All of our 2015 Pawscars winners are truly deserving of this honor for all they have done to entertain us not just over the past year, but indeed, in Lassie’s case, for decades and decades,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO. “Animal stars are such an important part of the films and TV shows we watch every day and this year’s PAWSCARS are our special way of paying tribute to the rich history of animal actors. Our deepest thanks to Pauley Perrette and Lou Wegner for co-hosting this year’s show and to everyone who voted for their favorite dog and cat stars of all time.”
To give viewers the inside scoop on even more of the Garbos and Gables of animal actors, a new book has been published in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the “No Animals Were Harmed” program. American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert wrote and published the book “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors,” with Allen and Linda Anderson, the husband-and-wife founders of the Angel Animals Network. Featuring a foreword by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, “Animal Stars” offers a peek at the fascinating world of animals and animal trainers in today’s film and television industry – and the celebrities with whom they work. Proceeds from the sale of the book support American Humane Association’s lifesaving work and programs protecting America’s children and animals. Dr. Ganzert traveled the country on a book signing tour for “Animal Stars” last fall. To watch the full 2015 PAWSCARS, please visit www.americanhumane.org, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/americanhumane or @americanhumane on Twitter. Media may get broadcast-quality footage at http://bit.ly/2015pawscars-video. For more information about the “No Animals Were Harmed®” program, including reviews of the movies it has monitored over the years, please visit www.humanehollywood.org.
About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.