On October 15, America’s finest actors will gather for a night of glamour, suspense, and red-carpet charm. But only the best will be named the grand-prize winner and forever win the hearts of audiences worldwide. Of innumerable hopefuls, 20 remain in competition for what is known as the Friskies.
The Friskies, of course, is the Internet cat-video awards show sponsored by Purina Friskies, now in its second year. Four categories separate the felines: cat comedy, catventure, pursuit of food and treats, and rescue cat.
Host Michael Ian Black, who has appeared in This Is 40, Take Me Home Tonight, and Michael & Michael Have Issues, says he considers this moment to be momentous.
“To say that hosting The Friskies was the apex of my career would be a gross understatement,” he says. “It is, I would say, the apex of anyone’s career. I’m not talking about entertainers ... I’m talking about astronauts ... I’m talking about politicians ... I’m talking about sports figures,” he said. “Look, every young person has a child who dreams of the day where he or she can host the Friskies. That dream has become a reality to me. Do I feel a huge burden a responsibility? Of course, I’m carrying the hopes and dreams of millions with me every day, and my hope is to pay it forward—with cat videos.”
Competition for the cats is fierce, and got fiercer when news broke that Grumpy Cat would make an appearance to accept her lifetime achievement award.
Among the standout cats under consideration: “Stubborn Cat on Bag,” which marks one of the most fantastic displays of literary wilderness journeys we’ve yet seen. The cactor (cat-actor) epitomizes all we know about modern American acting and the adventure of a lost American soul. Not since Forrest Gump has a character come so far, yet stayed so close to his place of true comfort.
“Old Man Cat Loves Life, Hates Hands” shatters stereotypes about the elderly and depicts strength despite age. “Who’s in That Mirror” offers the best stunt work we’ve seen since James Bond’s terrifying bungee jump in GoldenEye.
Host Black, himself a proud cat owner, says that though he has his favorites, his opinion won’t affect the Friskies competition.
“I’m like Mayor Bloomberg in this. I don’t want to influence the outcome, because my words carry a lot of weight,” he says. “I’ve got my personal favorites, obviously, and I have a fair amount of money bet on some of these. Anything I say, I don’t want to get in trouble with my bookie. I don’t want to get my legs broken in Las Vegas, so I have to stay out of it.”
Alfalfa, Black’s cat, appears indifferent to his father’s beloved awards and is more interested in lying on sweaters, the Friskies host says.
Three celebrity judges will help part decide the fate of the talented kitties. Will Braden, filmmaker and owner of award winner Henri Le Chat Noir; Abbie Moore of adoptapet.com; and Mick Szydlowski of OskarAndKlaus.com are some of the greatest minds in the cat-video world, Black says.
“We didn’t just take three people off the street and say, ‘Judge these cat videos,’” he says. “These are three cat-video experts trained in the secret arts of cat-video judging. Each of them has 20 years or more experience judging cat videos, even though cat videos didn’t exist 20 years ago. They were in training.”
Judges are looking for “style, obviously, educational value, laughs per second, attractiveness,” Black says.
The goal of the awards show is to expose the celebrity cat stars that have yet to find wide exposure. These cats are talented—and it’s time the world takes a gander.
“I do think that we are hoping to launch the next cat celebrities out into the world and make them as beloved as Grumpy Cat,” he says.
The Friskies will air online at thefriskies.com at 7 p.m. October 15. We’ll bring the catnip.