The puppies weren't just on-screen at the recent red carpet premiere of the Disney+ telefilm "Lady and the Tramp" at Manhattan's South Street Seaport. Adding to the general cuteness and cuddliness of the live-action adaptation of Disney's animated classic were representatives of Port Washington's North Shore Animal League America — holding a pair of Chihuahua sisters and other deserving dogs from a mobile adoption unit outside the iPic Theater.
And walking the carpet were Rose and Monte, the canine stars of the movie, plus Kuma, the sweet-natured pit bull belonging to Justin Theroux, who voices Tramp alongside Tessa Thompson's Lady.
"We've done a few of these," said Diana Zaferiou, an executive with the nationally recognized no-kill shelter. "Disney reached out to us to collaborate for the premiere. They explained that from the production team to the actors, they were all very passionate about rescue and wanted that to be a prime feature of the premiere of the film," which is slated to be among the launch titles when the streaming service goes live Tuesday, Nov. 12. "We're thrilled to be part of it."
Also in attendance was one of the shelter's longtime celebrity patrons, Beth Stern, wife of the Roosevelt- and Rockville Centre-raised radio icon Howard Stern. "Justin Theroux is a very good friend of mine and he has been supportive of my work with North Shore Animal League America," she explained. Stern said she had contacted the star to congratulate him on the movie, "and he said, 'Please come to my screening.' … It's exciting to bring [shelter animals] to these events to bring awareness of all of the puppies and dogs and cats and kittens that are in the shelter now looking for their homes."
This isn't Stern's first puppy rodeo. "I hosted one for 'Marley & Me,' " the 2008 heartbreaker with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, based on John Grogan's memoir about a family's Labrador retriever. "It was great because we had our mobile unit there and a lot of the animals got adopted."
Not that North Shore expects much adoption at such movie premieres. "If people are interested in adopting, we have adoption applications and counselors on hand to conduct interviews," said Zaferiou. "But we're here primarily to help put a spotlight on pet adoption. Whether or not [attendees are] likely to adopt this evening, we want to be top of people's mind when they think about bringing a pet into a home."
She added, "And we want people to know, too, that when they adopt a pet they're really saving two lives. First is the life they're taking home. And then that frees up room for us to go out and do another rescue."
The live-action "Lady and the Tramp," adapting the 1955 animated feature based on the 1945 "Cosmopolitan" short story "Happy Dan, the Cynical Dog" by Ward Greene, also features Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah, Adrian Martinez ("Stumptown") as dogcatcher Elliott, and F. Murray Abraham as Tony, owner of the Italian restaurant that figures prominently.
And Kuma has a cameo.