May 5, 2012 The Genesis Awards began in 1986 when Broadway actress Gretchen Wyler decided that she could help animals by recognizing members of the news and entertainment media who were spotlighting issues that would increase public awareness and compassion toward animals.
The awards were named for the book of the Bible that includes the story of Noah and the Ark, the first known animal rescue operation.
Over the years, a lot of celebrities have been a part of the awards ceremony, both as presenters and recipients – folks like Sir Paul McCartney, Melanie Griffith, Pierce Brosnan, even Kermit the Frog.
The awards are presented every year by the Hollywood Office of the Humane Society of the United States at a star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
Hosts for the ceremony have included Betty White, William Shatner, Ellen DeGeneres, and this year, Carrie Ann Inaba from Dancing With The Stars.
This is the only awards show of its kind, and it has made a difference in the amount and kind of attention that major media has given to animal issues. Whether it's print media, or television or movies, or even electronic media, stories about animal care, abuse, neglect, and exploitation are motivating change in our society.
Look at one of the four movies competing in the Feature Film category this year - Rise of the Planet of the Apes, nominated for its examination of the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research, demonstrating that a hit film can make a powerful statement.
And the real winner? Why the animals, of course, because they all benefit when members of the media use their platform to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
This award show was taped to air as a 1-hour special on Animal Planet today at 3 PM, and tomorrow morning at 7 AM. That's Central time, so check your local listings for the scheduled broadcast in your area.
What you'll see is a celebration of people in the news and entertainment media who are not just reflecting the society around them – they're helping to shape it (and maybe even change it) in a positive way, making the world a more humane place to live, when you're speaking of people and pets.