This Thanksgiving night will be like last Thanksgiving night for Hilary Swank, and she’s happy to have it that way.
The two-time Oscar winner (for “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby”) also is well-known as a longtime advocate for animals, and she points out that she’s often photographed with her own rescue dogs. Her pleasure is self-evident, then, about producing — with a fellow returnee, award-show veteran Michael Levitt — the second annual, celebrity-filled “All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration” Thursday (Nov. 26) on FOX.
“You never really know,” the friendly Swank tells Zap2it of staging the event again. “With any type of journey in the creative world, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of people who need to say, ‘Yes.’ I think Fox was thrilled with last year’s success; at one point, we had something like 5.5 million viewers, which is a good number for a show that’s been around and proven, much less a first-time show.
“It feels good as a producer to have any show that you’re affiliated with be a success,” adds Swank, “but more importantly, this show, which obviously has such a special place in my heart. It goes to show that all the viewers who tuned in have a special place in their hearts as well for these animals, dogs specifically, who don’t have a home. That, to me, is the most beautiful thing … that everyone wants to work together to put an end to that. Pun intended, I’m thankful for that!”
Among the stars helping in the latest effort: Kaley Cuoco (the show’s host), Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johansson, “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan, Valerie Bertinelli, Emmy Rossum (“Shameless”), country music’s Florida Georgia Line, Paula Abdul, “Dancing With the Stars’ judge Carrie Ann Inaba, Olivia Munn (“The Newsroom”) and comics Chelsea Handler, Kathy Griffin and Whitney Cummings.
Again this year, the special will offer information for viewers on adopting rescue dogs in their own localities. “We were able to get the statistics out,” Swank reflects. “I think most people don’t know that there are 8 million animals across the United States that don’t have homes, and 4 million of those don’t make it out. Just making people aware of that is important, but so is dispelling some of the myths surrounding dogs who have bad raps. They’ve been bred to do certain things, but that’s not necessarily their nature.”
The previous edition of the show enables the new one to update some of the dog-adoption stories presented last year. That helps Swank — soon to do her first television series in almost 20 years, the Starz drama “The One Percent” — in her mission to make the two-hour “Dog Rescue Celebration” a “joyful event, showing the joy these dogs bring to our lives, and how they touch our hearts in ways that some people can’t. We’re hopeful to achieve the same type of feeling this year.”