This week I talked with TV producer Michael Levitt about his FOX Thanksgiving special Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular. This celebrity-packed extravaganza is focused on raising awareness and funding for shelter dogs so that they receive the love, care and resources they need to find their forever home. The show airs on Thanksgiving night and is co-hosted by Emmy winner Jane Lynch and Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who, alongside Levitt, serves as Executive Producer. The TV special will include awards and celebrity presentations showcasing a variety of canine categories. Celebrities also will introduce the audience to rescue dogs, giving viewers the opportunity to foster or adopt a new best friend. Participating celebrities include Kristin Chenoweth, Whitney Cummings, Max Greenfield, Kathy Griffin, Julianne Hough, Randy Jackson, Cesar Millan, Jerry O'Connell, Kelly Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, P!nk, Amber Riley, Rebecca Romijn, Emmy Rossum, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Paula Abdul, Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Fergie, Carrie Ann Inaba, Scarlett Johansson, Kesha, Miranda Lambert, LeAnn Rimes and Betty White.
I talked with Levitt about the significance of Cause for Paws and his spin on LGBT issues. When asked what he would like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years, he stated:
I'm actually blown away by how far we've come since I was growing up. For me that's amazing that, at least in bigger cities, kids can be open, out and proud and, for the most, part nobody cares. That being said, it breaks my heart when I hear of LGBT kids being rejected by their own families, and for me this has to stop. I'm grateful for the support of the LGBT community to help these kids, but my hope is that we can eventually live in a time where all people love their own children unconditionally and don't reject them simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Michael Levitt has produced reality shows, game shows, award shows and TV specials for the last two decades. Among his credits are Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Skin Wars, the TV Land Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. In 2011 Levitt received the devastating news that his sister was dying of cancer. It was during this difficult time that he rescued two pit bulls and quickly learned through adversity that his dogs actually rescued him. The special bond with his two canine friends, Trooper and Nelson, inspired Levitt to become a rescuer in his spare time. Since then he has saved over 500 dogs from local shelters and helped them find loving homes. By bringing his two worlds of producing and rescue together in Cause for Paws, Levitt hopes to change the game for the 8 million animals that enter shelters each year.
Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular airs on FOX on Thursday, Nov. 27 -- Thanksgiving -- from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST. For more information, visit fox.com/cause-for-paws.
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