The Hollywood Pet Set: 12 A-Listers With Their Animal Companions
More bark than bite? At least at home, that's the rule for the industry's top dogs, from NBC's Robert Greenblatt to CAA's David O'Connor, as they reveal the bonds -- whether canine, feline or equine -- that bring indescribable bliss.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Kurt Sutter with Ike (African gray parrot)
I always refer to my recent fascination with birds as my midlife crisis, which I keep telling my wife is better than crack and hookers," jokes Sons of Anarchy showrunner Sutter, 47. Sutter's wife (and star of his gritty biker series), Katey Sagal, 59, actually is to blame for Sutter's affinity for feathered friends because she bought him a pair of diamond doves for Father's Day four years ago.
Since then, the couple's 6-year-old daughter has set the doves free ("Esme decided that they shouldn't be in the cage"), but he has a new addition to his family, a smart African gray parrot named Ike. "I'm sure it's some homage to Ike Turner on some level — some dangerous badass parrot," says Sutter of the name choice. With a love of pistachios and a habit of imitating words and sounds from his surroundings, Ike, now a little more than a year old, splits his time between Sutter's office in his Bel-Air home and his outdoor cage during writing sessions.
Ike lives with French bulldogs Lumpy and Lola, some fish and Django the labradoodle, which "is Katey's baby." Sutter says Ike prefers to be near him but is not a cuddler and doesn't "play well with others," specifically, other birds. Sutter has yet to bring Ike to the set, but he's considering a cameo in the near future: "I'm sure he'll end up on the show at some point." — REBECCA FORD
From left: Chelsea Handler, Snoop Dogg and Ryan Kavanaugh with Handler's Jax (boxer) and Chunk (chow mix) and Kavanaugh's Taz (Siberian husky) and Freedom (Alaskan husky)
Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith on July 16 at Stage 1 on the Universal Lot in Universal City
Perhaps it takes a Dogg to know what abandoned hounds need. As rapper Snoop, 41, an owner of 11 dogs and an investor in Dog for Dog food, explains, shelter mutts most often are euthanized not because a pound lacks space but rather "because there's not enough food to feed them. So we figured we can say, ‘Buy some dog food for your dog, and we'll drop [an additional bag] off at a local shelter.' You save a dog's life."
The "we" in this scenario is 38-year-old Dog for Dog founder (and Relativity Media CEO) Kavanaugh — who started the dog-food brand with president and Three Dog Bakery owner Rocky Kanaka Keever — and late-night talk-show host and fellow investor Handler, also 38. The Santa Monica-based company, which stocks its goods at Petco, Pet Food Express and most neighborhood pet stores, prides itself on using all-natural ingredients such as peanuts and flaxseed and steers clear of sugar, salt and hydrogenated oils.
"You love your dog, so put a little heart into what you're feeding your dog," says Keever, who demonstrates the edibility of DFD's all-natural Blueberry DogsBar ($3.99; the most expensive DFD product is $66.95 for a 25-pound bag of food) by taking a bite out of it. This prompts Handler — who like Kavanaugh, Snoop and Keever feed DFD to their own beloved animals — to crack, "I wanted to get involved so I can share my food with my dogs because I'm hungry a lot."
The recipe, of course, has a grander purpose: to offer a quick caloric boost for malnourished dogs while also providing essential proteins and quality chow for daily feeding. Kavanaugh, who has given six rescues a home at his house in Malibu, hopes a little can go a long way.
"A company like Iams spends $1.5 billion a year on marketing. We don't market," says the executive, whose media company has backed such Oscar-caliber films as The Social Network and The Fighter, as well as September release The Family, helmed by Luc Besson and starring Robert De Niro. (Plans are also in the works for a DFD reality show.) "Instead, we put that money toward the bags going to the pounds. The goal is ending euthanasia in pounds." — SHIRLEY HALPERIN
From left: Lily Tomlin and Tippi Hedren with Shere Khan (mixed-breed tiger)
Photographed by Frank W. Ockenfels 3 on July 18 at Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif.
Here's a strange piece of film trivia: Nearly all of the surviving "Hitchcock blondes" — the fair-haired actresses who peopled Alfred Hitchcock's classics — are great animal lovers. The Man Who Knew Too Much's Doris Day, 91, is a leading advocate for dogs and cats and lives with six and 10, respectively, in Carmel, Calif. Vertigo's Kim Novak, 80, married an equine veterinarian, adores horses and has owned as many as 20 llamas on their Oregon ranch. Rebecca and Suspicion's Joan Fontaine, 95, who also lives in Carmel, has four canine companions, all adopted from the SPCA. Then there's Tippi Hedren, 83, star of The Birds and Marnie, who literally lives on — and runs with longtime associate Chris Gallucci with help from friends like Oscar nominee Lily Tomlin — a big-cat sanctuary, the Shambala Preserve, in Acton, just an hour's drive from Los Angeles.
Since Hedren first encountered a pride of lions in 1969 while working in Africa on the movie Satan's Harvest, she has been smitten with big cats. She, her then-husband, producer Noel Marshall, and her daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, made a film, 1981's Roar, to increase awareness of the endangered species.
Hedren also began acquiring lions that had been bred and raised throughout the U.S. as pets — often in despicable conditions — initially housing them in her former Sherman Oaks house. She eventually boarded them at what is now Shambala in some of the 40-plus compounds on its 72 acres. "Pretty soon, the board was more than the mortgage," she recalls, "so we bought the place." Hedren began living in a cottage on the property in 1976 and grew to love its inhabitants "more than my next breath." In 1983, she established the nonprofit Roar Foundation, and Shambala has been a center for big-cat care and research ever since, protecting animals that never could be returned to the wild and subsisting on gifts from private donors like herself (Hedren doesn't take a salary). "I have to raise $75,000 every month to keep the whole thing going," she says, confessing, "I really need help — it's close to dire." Hedren cites advisory board members Tomlin and Betty White as particularly supportive of Shambala's 43 residents of lions, leopards, bobcats and lynxes. "If they need a home, we take them," says Hedren. "Our endeavor is to give the animals the best life they could possibly have in captivity." — SCOTT FEINBERG
Robert Greenblatt with Redford (Doberman pinscher)
Photographed by Ramona Rosales on July 19 at Greenblatt's Hollywood Hills house
Television writers visiting NBC Entertainment chairman Greenblatt's office in Burbank might notice an occasional extra guest sitting in on pitch meetings. Redford, Greenblatt's 4-year-old, 65-pound brown-and-tan Doberman, has been known to accompany his owner around the studio lot on days he's not dropped off at Sam's Green Paw day care in Studio City.
"The minute I saw him, I fell in love, though he was standoffish at first," says Greenblatt, 52, of his first encounter with Redford two years ago at a rescue facility in the San Fernando Valley. These days, their close bond — on a recent afternoon, Greenblatt expertly calmed Redford, who was a bit agitated by THR's camera crew — is being put to the test.
Redford — named for his auburn coat, not the actor, though the executive says he's a fan — was diagnosed this year with potentially fatal bladder cancer and underwent five rounds (and counting) of chemotherapy with Greenblatt at his side. The good news is that Redford isn't showing symptoms of the cancer and has plenty of energy, but Greenblatt knows the future for his furry friend is uncertain. "The doctors say he could live for years, or he might not," he says. "We just don't know." — MATTHEW BELLONI
David O'Connor and Lona Williams with (from left) Jodi (mixed breed), Otis (boxer) and Rosie (basset hound)
Photographed by Ramona Rosales on July 21 at O'Connor and Williams' Brentwood house
Otis, a large boxer, is licking and slobbering over David "Doc" O'Connor, managing partner at CAA, while Rosie, a mellow basset hound, and Jodi, part duck-tolling retriever and leader of the pack, nuzzle O'Connor's wife, screenwriter Lona Williams (2014's The Dunderheads) at their Brentwood house. All three are rescue dogs. Jodi was originally found wandering the streets of San Bernardino. And if Otis hadn't been adopted by the couple, he surely would have suffered the fate of euthanization at a kill shelter.
The boxer, who has three legs, is "inspiring because he never lives a day of his life like he's missing a leg," says O'Connor, 55. "We presume he got hit by a car and his owners didn't have the wherewithal to take him to a vet. They put him in an overnight drop box at a kill shelter in Idaho, where he was dragging his leg around." Staff at the Animal Adoption Center (AAC) in nearby Jackson, Wyo. (where the couple has a second home), got him out of the kill shelter. Williams — a longtime advocate for animals who serves on the board of the AAC — fell for Otis when she met him. And though the couple (who have a daughter, Lucy, 13, and son, Angus, 9) then had four dogs, and her husband was adamant he didn't want another, even O'Connor couldn't stand firm in the face of Otis' boundless affection.
"David was on the phone on the couch, and Otis ran in the room, up on the couch and started licking, and it was game over," recalls Williams, 46, who also is on the board of the Humane Society of the United States. One of her top-line philanthropy goals is stopping dog and cat euthanasia in Los Angeles. She's a loyal supporter of the local chapter of Best Friends Animal Society, which has put together NKLA, a new coalition of more than 50 independent organizations working to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017. Already, the initiative is making a serious impact, with 13,000 animals killed at shelters in 2012, down 4,000 from the previous year. An estimated 3.4 million animals are euthanized annually in the United States. "Once you know the number of adoptable healthy animals killed every year, once you know the horrors of puppy mills, where the mothers languish in cages their entire lives, never touching grass, you can't go back," she says, noting that 20 to 30 percent of the animals in shelters are purebreds.
One of the most important tools in reducing that number further is educating people that most animals aren't in shelters because of behavioral problems but because of lack of identification and owners' life changes such as divorces, deaths in families and economic problems. Says Williams, "These dogs are superstars." — DEGEN PENER
Eli Roth with Monkey (French bulldog)
Photographed by Emily Shur on July 11 at Roth's West Hollywood house
The name Eli Roth conjures images of blood and guts. But there's a softer side to the 41-year-old Hostel helmer. In fact, the man who spawned the phrase "torture porn" sounds more like a spa aesthetician when discussing his precious French bulldog, Monkey.
"Her skin has all the natural oils it needs, so it's bad to bathe her too often because she dries out," he coos. "Frenchies are a delicate breed." The longtime PETA supporter is so indulgent with his rescue pup that he allows her dining-room privileges. "I know this is a terrible habit, but recently I started putting her in a chair at the table. She used to make all kinds of noise while I was eating; I sat her at the table and she calmed down instantly. So now she joins me for dinner."
The only caveat: She is forbidden from jumping up and eating Roth's meal. The stern side of Roth does emerge at one point when he issues a time-out, but thanks to obedience training at Bone Sweet Bone in Studio City, Monkey is on her way to becoming a well-behaved pooch — an important feat given her stepping a bit into the spotlight. The 6-month-old dog is currently romantically linked to Moosie, the French bulldog of Paramount senior vp publicity Jessica Rovins.
"We always joke about how we're going to arrange puppyrazzi photos," he quips, adding that his dog is not down for anything harsher than a photo flash. "I wanted to bring her to my last location [for The Green Inferno], but she would have gotten eaten by a python. We were filming deep in the Amazon. It's best that she stays local." — TATIANA SIEGEL
Georgina Bloomberg with Roky Dorcel (Selle Francais gelding)
Photographed by Sarah Dunn on July 23 in Pfungstadt, Germany
Among equestrian insiders, the first thing that comes to mind about the daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is horses, not politics. Georgina Bloomberg jumped in the saddle at 4, started competing at 6 and today, at age 30, shows at grand prix, the highest level on the international show jumping circuit. "I'm calling you on a hot summer day from a very small one-bedroom with no air-conditioning," she says by phone from the Turnier Der Sieger Muenster horse show in Germany. "This is not a luxury vacation. But I fell in love with it."
Equestrian sport is a big business: Prize money can hit six figures, and earning it means impelling your mount over 5-foot obstacles. "It's a humbling sport," she says. And "nobody cares who your father is. Real horse people know it doesn't matter how expensive the horse is if you don't develop your skills."
The entrepreneurial Bloomberg, co-author of the equestrian-themed YA series The A Circuit, also trains young horses like her 8-year-old chestnut, Roky Dorcel, to sell, and maintains a 20-acre farm in Old Salem, N.Y., as well as winter headquarters in Wellington, Fla. She normally rides six days a week for five to eight hours but announced in June her pregnancy with her 36-year-old boyfriend, Argentine rider Ramiro Quintana. Bloomberg hasn't decided how long into the pregnancy she will continue to ride (she is due in January): "I'm taking it week by week, waiting to see how big I get and how quickly." — PAULA PARISI
Diane Warren with Buttwings (parrot) and Mouse (Cornish Rex cat)
Photographed by Austin Hargrave on July 12 at Warren's Hollywood studio
Allergic to cats? You might want to stock up on Sudafed before visiting Realsongs, the hitmaking music house in Hollywood owned by Grammy-winning songwriter Warren (Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me"). And forget about working there. "I'd have to fire you," cracks Warren. "You'd have to go because she stays."
The "she" is Mouse, Warren's hairless Cornish Rex cat, whom she inherited seven years ago as a kitten from her trainer. "She had these big ears, and I went, ‘What the f— is that?' From then on, she's been my best friend." Mouse's batlike features and markings are a sight to behold, and some of today's biggest music stars have done just that — be it Demi Lovato or Snoop Dogg, who recently worked with Warren on the song "The Good Good." Says Warren, "She got high with Snoop." The session included Warren's parrot, Buttwings ("It was my first time with a bird," Snoop later snickers), a gift from an ex-boyfriend 20 years ago. "If you can call it a gift because he almost bit my lip off," chides Warren — of the bird, not the guy.
Shuttling Mouse from her home in the Hollywood Hills to her office, where writing sessions often keep Warren late at night (she has songs in five major films this year), is a testament to the longtime vegetarian's commitment to animals. She divulges that she can spend upward of $10,000 on vets, food and "a million toys," but Warren also gives back. She donated a song, "You Pulled Me Through," recorded by Jennifer Hudson, for the Humane Society's TV campaign, she has contributed to scores of animal charities, and even an investment in L.A.'s Veggie Grill has a deeper purpose, she says: "To help people not eat animals." — SHIRLEY HALPERIN