This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
So, I got a puppy. In a show business way.
My wonderful dog died a year ago, and I spent the past year staring at other people’s dogs in a way, frankly, that I sometimes stare at other people’s girlfriends. “Why are you with him?” “What’s that relationship all about?” That kind of thing.
And then there were my friends Harry and Judith, who had my dog’s littermate, who also died last year, and we wanted to get two puppies, two littermates, to recreate the fun and chaos of watching two puppies grow up together and wrestle each other around the park.
But, you know, I dragged my feet. I went to a great dog rescue organization. I wandered around the animal shelter. I surfed the net. But I didn’t really make the decision until a few months ago, when I was walking to lunch, and I ran into a woman I know who trains and wrangles dogs for movies and TV.
A few years ago, we had a show on the air with a lot of dogs, and she handled them all with incredible grace and agility. We talk. I tell her my sad tale. And she tells me that she’s working on a movie about a dog – a yellow lab – and that she’s sourced a load of yellow lab puppies – some rescue, some friends and family – because, you know, in a movie, you need a lot of dogs to play the part of one dog and various stages of his life. Puppies grow fast, so week to week, you need a constant supply of fresh puppies for continuity between shots.
This is perfect, I think. Can we have two of them?
Sure, she says. But I’ll need them for a few weeks or so for the movie, but they’ll come back trained and socialized and ready to settle down after a big celebrity turn in a major motion picture.
Great, I think. Show business dogs. What could be better?
We take them. They’re going to be with my trainer friend for a few weeks, and we can pick them up in early May. We even make plans to visit them on the set. I don’t know why, but the idea of having actor dogs, movie dogs, star dogs, is incredibly exciting. Oh, yeah, this is my dog. Just wrapped his first picture. You want a picture? Um, yeah, it’s just that we’re having brunch right now? So….
And then I’m walking to lunch again, and I run into a neighbor of mine, who is a fellow dog-lover, but also an agent. I tell him the story about the puppies. I tell them that they’re going to be stars. He asks the name of the project. He tells me that as of that morning, the project is dead – he represents the writer and the director, he should know. And then my cell phone rings. It’s the trainer. Come pick up your puppies.
This is how they put it in actors’ contracts: role cut, actor not photographed.
Wepick up out puppies, who are sweet and funny and a total handful. They are not stars. They are in turnaround. And they don’t seem to care.
Except mine, yesterday, dug a copy of Variety out of the trash and tore it to shreds. I mean, she could have picked a lot of other things – the newspaper, a shopping bag, some junk mail – but she fished out the trades and gave them a thorough thrashing, the kind of frenzied violence I haven’t seen anyone unleash on one of the trade papers since 2000, when Variety gave one of our shows a snarky review and I did the same.
I didn’t use my teeth though. Well, that’s a lie. I did use my teeth. But it was a really snarky review.
So although my dog is not a star, she is a show business dog, and she came to me in a very show business way. And as long as she stays relatively unsuccessful in her movie career, we’ll get along great. This house is not big enough for equal billing.
That’s it for this week. Next week, we’ll sit in the room. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.
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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
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