Review: ‘Hero Dog: The Journey Home,’ starring Natasha Henstridge and Steve Byers

May 2, 2021

by Carla Hay

Steve Byers in “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“Hero Dog: The Journey Home”

Directed by Richard Boddington

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed Canadian city in Ontario, the family drama “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” features a nearly alll-white cast (with one African American) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A blind man who’s stranded on a boat with his sister’s dog decides the best way to get rescued is to walk through the woods with the hope that the dog will lead the way back home.

Culture Audience: “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a silly rescue film with terrible acting and a very predictable plot.

Morgan DiPietrantonio, Zackary Arthur, John Tench and Natasha Henstridge in “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

Let’s say you’re a blind person with an Alaskan Malamute dog on a boat that’s crashed near a wooded area because the boat’s captain had a heart attack. You, the dog and the unconscious captain are the only people on the boat. The crashed boat can be seen by a rescue helicopter that’s sure to be on its way when you’ve been reported missing on the boat. Instead of waiting for the rescue helicopter, you decide to take the dog and walk through the dense woods (where you won’t be seen by the rescue helicopter) because you think the dog will lead you back to your home.

That’s the plot of the mind-numblingly awful “Hero Dog: The Journey Home,” written and directed by Richard Boddington. The movie is so bad that the only heroic thing that the dog does is show some common sense when the humans in the movie make very dumb decisions. Meanwhile, viewers who sit through this junkpile film will either laugh or groan as one absurd thing after another keeps happening. This pseudo-adventure movie really is as corny and stupid and you might think it is.

In “Hero Dog: The Journey Home,” Royce Davis (played by Steve Byers) is the protagonist who makes blind people look bad because the filmmakers want viewers to think that someone who doesn’t have eyesight also doesn’t have common sense. In the beginning of the film, Royce gets on a small boat captained by Fred Boggs (played by Colin Fox), who will be taking widower Royce back to Royce’s family home in the woods, in an unnamed rural part of Ontario, Canada.

Royce has an Alaskan Malumate seeing-eye male dog named Chinook with him on this boat trip. For reasons that aren’t clearly explained in the movie, the dog doesn’t belong to Royce. Instead, the dog belongs to his married sister Susan Wade (played by Natasha Henstridge), who has been taking care of Royce’s two kids while Royce was away on a trip. Apparently, the best way to get to the Davis family’s isolated home is by boat and then by taking a long trek through the woods.

The movie doesn’t say when Royce’s wife died, but his two children are 13-year-old Max Davis (played by Zackary Arthur) and Erin Davis (played by Morgan DiPietrantonio), who’s about 11 or 12 years old. During his conversation with Captain Boggs, Royce mentions that he got a job offer in the city, so the family will be moving there soon. However, Max isn’t too happy about this impending move because he’s an outdoorsy boy who loves the rural area where they currently live. Royce also tells Captain Boggs that he lost his eyesight at age 19, when he was blinded by a roadside bomb when he served in the Afghanistan War.

Not long after the boat sets sail, Captain Boggs has a heart attack, and the boat crashes near an embankment. The boat’s radio can only get static. Royce fumbles for his cell phone and can’t get a signal. Captain Boggs is still alive but unconscious, and Royce doesn’t know how much longer Captian Boyce has to live. Not knowing what to do, Royce waits in the boat until help can arrive. There’s food and bottled water in the boat, so he and the dog have enough to survive for at least two days.

Meanwhile, Susan knows something is wrong when Royce doesn’t show up as scheduled, so she contacts the local authorites. Since it’s already night when she reports Royce missing, the police officer in charge, named Captain Walker (played by John Tench), tells Susan and the kids that the rescue operation can’t begin until the morning. Everyone in the family is naturally upset and panic-stricken.

Luckly for Royce, his boat is at an embankment that’s visible from the air. But the next morning, instead of waiting to be rescued, Royce says out loud that he needs to find his way back home so that Captain Boggs can get a chance to get medical help. Royce tells Chinook that they’re going to leave Captain Boggs in the boat and walk through the woods until they find their way back home. It’s at this point in the movie, viewers might be yelling at the screen at how moronic this decision is, but there would be no “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” if Royce acted sensibly in this story.

Before Royce leaves the safety of the boat, he leaves a note to say that he’s going back home. Instead of waiting to be resecued from a boat that can be seen by helicopter, Royce goes into the dense woods with Chinook where they can’t be seen by helicopter and where Royce could possibly fall down and hurt himself. And yes, that does happen in the movie. Viewers won’t have much sympathy for this dimwit when it happens.

Meanwhile, Max and Erin think they can do a better job than the adult professionals in finding Royce. And so, they both sneak off to go into the woods to find their father. At first Erin is reluctant and thinks it’s a bad idea. But when she sees that Max is determined to go with or without her, she huffs, “I can’t let you get all the credit!” And so, off they go with just a backpack filled with the bare minumim of food and supplies.

When Susan finds out that Max and Erin have gone missing, she immediately knows that they’ve gone in the woods to look for their father. And then, Susan wants to go look for them in the woods too. But then, Captain Walker says the most sensible thing that anyone says in this asinine movie: “Mrs. Wade, I already have three members of your family lost in the wildnerness. I don’t need a fourth.”

Of course, because this movie has to pile on the drama, people who go in the woods encounter wild animals who attack. A mountain lion makes an appearance. In another scene, there’s a wolf. The kids encounter a skunk. This movie is so heavy-handed and unrealistic with the large wild animals encounters, why not bring out a whole managerie of wild animals at this point? Bears need representation too.

Royce and Chinook inevitably get lost. So much for a “hero dog.” One of the worst things about this movie is that during his foolish walk in the woods, Royce brings out a flare gun, which he could’ve easily used when he was on the boat. And then there’s the idiotic scene with Royce trying to start a fire, without any thought of what a disaster it would be to accidentally start a forest fire that Royce can’t put out quickly because he can’t see. It’s not as if Royce has access to any fire hoses or buckets of water.

The scenes with Max and Erin aren’t much better. Erin is a whiny brat, while Max is an insufferable know-it-all. And, of course it starts to rain and something happens to their backpack of food and supplies. And what is the “hero dog” doing during all of this drama? Just trying to stay alive, while Royce makes one stupid decision after another.

One of these nonsensical decisions is to destroy his cell phone so he can use the mirror interior as some kind of glare signal in the woods where a glare signal wouldn’t been seen anyway because there are too many trees. Royce is supposed to be someone with military training, but he seems to have no survival skills. The absurdity goes on and on. And so does the bad acting by most of the cast.

Henstridge and Tench are the only cast members whose acting approaches anything close to believable. Everyone else overacts and they sound like they’re reciting lines, not having natural-looking conversations. Everything about this film is done with such unrelenting, self-important ridiculousness, with no humor whatsoever, that there isn’t much to like about this movie except the dog. And it’s too bad this innocent dog was forced to be in this embarrassing mess.

Lionsgate released “Hero Dog: The Journey Home” on digital, VOD and DVD on March 23, 2021.

Review: ‘Stray’ (2021), starring Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal

March 13, 2021

by Carla Hay

Zeytin in “Stray” (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

“Stray” (2021)

Directed by Elizabeth Lo

Culture Representation: Taking place from 2017 to 2019, in Istanbul, Turkey, the documentary “Stray” follows the lives of a select number of stray dogs in the city.

Culture Clash: Syrian refugee teens who are homeless take care of some of the dogs, but their vagrant and unstable lifestyles make their ability to care for the pets very dubious.

Culture Audience: “Stray” will appeal primarily to people interested in watching a documentary about dogs that live on the streets and how the city of Istanbul handles these homeless pets.

Zeytin and another dog in “Stray” (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

People who’ve seen director Ceyda Torun’s 2017 documentary “Kedi” (about stray cats in Istanbul) can view director Elizabeth Lo’s documentary “Stray” (about stray dogs in Istanbul) as a great companion piece. You don’t have to see one documentary to enjoy the other, but it’s worth comparing and contrasting the two films. “Stray” is a more heart-wrenching movie than “Kedi” because homeless dogs in Istanbul seem to have it much harder than homeless cats.

Whereas “Kedi” focused on seven cats (male and female) and gave each about the same amount of screen time, “Stray” features three dogs (all female) in the spotlight, but one dog in particular gets the majority of the screen time. Her name is Zeytin, a tan Labrador Retriever mix with a personality that’s utterly endearing. She is friendly, smart and independent. And even in harsh circumstances, she maintains her dignity. A lot of humans could learn from a dog like Zeytin.

“Stray” begins with a prologue stating: “Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century … Widespread protests against the killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog.”

What does that mean for stray dogs like Zeytin? They are allowed to roam free on the streets, but there doesn’t seem to be the type of organized system for animal adoptions that other countries have. Stray dogs in Istanbul wear government tags on their ears to indicate if they have been spayed or neutered. The documentary (which was filmed from 2017 to 2019) is cinéma vérité style, from the point of view of the dogs, with no interviews and no background information on Istanbul’s animal shelters.

Zeytin has a close female companion named Nazar, a beige Labrador Retriever mix with a darker-toned face than Zeytin. Nazar also has blue pen markings all over her fur. By comparison, Zeytin looks remarkably well-kept for a stray dog.

Zeytin’s fur looks clean and doesn’t show any signs of mange or flea infestations. And she doesn’t look injured. The ages of Zeytin and Nazar are unclear, but an unknown person in the movie mentions that Zeytin looks young.

There’s a scene in the movie that shows the dogs near the beach. And although there’s no scene in the movie of the dogs swimming in the water, you get the feeling that Zeytin knows a place where she can wash herself on a regular basis. She’s smart and resourceful. If you believe that dogs have souls, then she has a good one.

Zeytin and Nazar begin following a group of Syrian refugee teenage boys (who look to be about 13 to 16 years old) who are also homeless. The dogs end up staying with the boys in an abandoned building. A few of the boys’ names are heard here and there. One is named Jamil. Another one is named Halil. They make money by asking for handouts or selling random items.

There’s a core group of about four or five of these refugee teens who hang out together and take care of Zeytin and Nazar. In the abandoned building, one of the boys talks about how he went to an immigration office with his family to apply for a refugee work permit, but the government only had a record of his family members, not him.

The personal stories of the other boys are not told in the documentary. But they all habitually sniff glue in plastic bags to get high, which is an indication of their emotional pain. The teens are eventually kicked out of the building by the apparent owner, who threatens to have them arrested for trespassing and loitering. The kids beg him to let them stay there and say they won’t make any trouble, but he refuses. He also scolds them about sniffing glue.

One of the things that people might dread in watching a documentary like this is the sight of any dogs being abused. Fortunately, there is no animal abuse in the movie, but it doesn’t sugarcoat how rough life on the streets can be for these dogs. The teen refugees often talk about how hungry they are, so it’s probably the same for the dogs. When a charity food truck comes by during its scheduled stop, the refugees run to it and get enough food for themselves and the dogs.

Zeytin and other stray dogs also get food by rummaging through garbage or by hanging out near restaurants and street food vendors. There’s a scene of Zeytin sleeping outside near tables at a café. And like clockwork, Zeytin is shooed away by an employee about the same time every day until she finds somewhere else for her daytime nap.

Food vendors will usually chase the dogs away, but a few will give the dogs their scraps. And on rare occasions, a random stranger will stop to give the dog some store-bought food. But most people on the street ignore the strays.

Some people with their own pet dogs are afraid to let their pets near the strays. One woman who’s walking her Jack Russell Terrier named Bella reacts to seeing Zeytin by nervously scooping up Bella and saying about Zeytin, “She might kill you,” even though Zeytin is harmless and shows no signs of aggression.

Zeytin and Nazar have an overall congenial relationship, but they show their contrasting temperaments in two different scenes. Nazar is more ill-tempered and has a tendency to be greedy and possessive, compared to Zeytin who tends to be calmer and more generous. However, Zeytin is not afraid to defend herself if necessary.

In one scene, some meaty bones are discarded on the street. Nazar growls and snaps at Zeytin to prevent Zeytin from getting near the bones, because Nazar wants all the bones to herself. Zeytin is able to sneak off with one of the bones though. In another scene, Nazar playfully greets another dog named Zilli, but Nazar (who is nearby) seems to get jealous and starts a vicious fight with Zeytin. The teenagers have to separate the two dogs, and one of the boys comforts Zeytin, who looks sad that her friend turned on her for no good reason.

Zeytin’s demeanor with other dogs is so approachable and friendly that the documentary shows that she can win over dogs who look mean and tough. She encounters a pack of about 10 to 12 dogs, and some of them try to bully her. But when she defends herself, she earns their respect, and they let her hang out with their pack for a while. Zeytin is never seen instigating a fight.

She also has an independent streak because she doesn’t seem to want to stay with one pack for too long. In the production notes for “Stray,” director Lo commented: “Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent.”

When strangers approach Zeytin on the street, she is curious and amiable. A man with a daughter who looks about 3 years old encourages his daughter to pet Zeytin. In another scene, a passerby remarks that Zeytin is a beautiful dog.

And in one of the film’s scenes that can be considered laugh-out-loud funny, Zeytin and some other dogs are wandering in the streets while a feminist protest is happening, with women holding signs and shouting about their rights. In the middle of this protest, a male dog mounts Zeytin and starts having sex with her. One of the women in the crowd shouts jokingly to the dogs, “Not now, guys! Please!” Another woman says to the male dog about his sexual intercourse with Zeytin, “Do it only if she wants to! Ask her first!”

Another dog that’s featured in the documentary, but not as prominently as Zeytin and Nazar, is a black and white pitbull mix puppy named Kartal, who’s about four or five months old. Zeytin first meets Kartal when Zeytin and some other dogs walk near a family home where Kartal is outside with another puppy from the litter and Kartal’s mother. Zeytin approaches as if to greet the other dogs, but Kartal’s mother growls protectively and doesn’t let the other dogs get too close.

Later in the movie, some of the teenage refugees go back to the house and beg the dog’s owner to let them take one of the puppies. The owner refuses but hints that they can come back at night and steal the puppy they want. The boys end up stealing Kartal, whom they rename Sari. The puppy often looks confused, but the boys make sure that she’s kept safe, and there’s a moment when Kartal/Sari finds another puppy as a temporary play companion.

Zeytin seems to have mixed feelings toward Kartal/Sari as a new arrival to this pack. Zeytin is not hostile to Kartal/Sari, but she’s not overly welcoming either. When Kartal/Sari tries to snuggle up to Zeytin or try to play with her, Zeytin moves away, as if she’s uncomfortable being a babysitter. Kartal/Sari’s time with this group of homeless teens doesn’t last long though. (Don’t worry, she didn’t get hurt.)

You don’t have to be an animal enthusiast to enjoy “Stray,” although it certainly makes a difference in how you might look at and remember this film. Even though the dogs in the movie do not have an ideal life, they are protected under Istanbul law. And that probably gives them a better chance not to be openly abused and murdered by people on the streets.

There’s a resilience to these dogs but also a constant sense of worry about where and how they are going to get their next meal, as well as how they are going to stay safe. Life on the streets means these strays can belong to anyone and no one at the same time. Unlike homeless humans, homeless dogs can’t sign up for emergency shelters or apply for government aid. But the last five minutes of “Stray” (which has the best scene in the movie) is a clear indication that dogs can have feelings and reactions just like a lot of humans do. And they also deserve to be seen, heard and treated with kindness.

Magnolia Pictures released “Stray” in U.S. virtual cinemas on March 5, 2021.

ABC announces American version of ‘Pooch Perfect’ series, hosted by Rebel Wilson

January 13, 2021

The following is a press release from ABC:

“Pooch Perfect” (Tuesdays, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) on ABC

Premiere date: March 30, 2021.

Hosted by award-winning actress Rebel Wilson, “Pooch Perfect” is the ulti-mutt dog grooming competition series. The eight-episode serieswill showcase 10 of the best dog groomers in the country, along with their assistants, competing in a series of paw-some themed challenges. 

Each week on “Pooch Perfect,” teams will compete in the Immunity Puppertunity challenge, where one team will earn immunity from elimination. Then, in the Ultimutt Challenge showdown, the remaining teams will face off in an epic grooming transformation, which they will show off on the illustrious dogwalk. The trio of all-star celebrity judges – Lisa Vanderpump, Jorge Bendersky and Dr. Callie Harris – will be tasked with voting on the incredible creations and ultimately force one team back to the doghouse every week. It all leads up to the season finale where the top three teams compete for a giant cash prize and the coveted “Pooch Perfect” first place trophy.

“Pooch Perfect” is produced by Beyond Media Rights Limited. Elan Gale, Sonya Wilkes and Rebel Wilson serve as executive producers. Nicole Anthony, Mike Rosen, Carley Simpson and Matthew Silverberg serve as co-executive producers. ABC’s “Pooch Perfect” is based off of the Australian format. Episodes can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu.

The Host, Judges and Season 1 Contestants

Episode Photos

2021 Puppy Bowl: see photos and videos

January 6, 2021

Puppy Bowl (Photo by Elias Weiss Friedman/Discovery+/Animal Planet)

 

The following is a press release from Discovery Networks:

“We need puppies now more than ever!” said everyone. Have no fear because television’s cutest sports competition and the original call-to-adoption TV event “Puppy Bowl” returns on Sunday, February 7, 2021 for the biggest, most exciting game to date, now as a 3-hour event that can be viewed on both Discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service that features a landmark partnership with Verizon that gives their customers with select plans up to 12 months of Discovery+ on Verizon, and Animal Planet on February 7, 2021, at 2PM ET/11AM PT. Join Discovery+ and Animal Planet for this special three-hour event to experience all the fuzzy puppy faces from Team Ruff and Team Fluff who go paw to paw to win the Chewy “Lombarky” trophy in “Puppy Bowl’s” all-new venue, a ‘stadium within a stadium’ that’s bigger and better than ever before. Be sure to be on the lookout for Team Ruff who is looking to reclaim their title after last year’s loss – they’re coming back with a vengeance! Gear up because it’s officially the most wonderful time of the year for the biggest game of the year – “Puppy Bowl XVII”!

“Puppy Bowl” celebrates adoptable pups in all their cuteness and showcases the incredible shelters and rescues, as well as their staffers, who dedicate their lives to helping animals find their loving homes. In years past, “Puppy Bowl” is 16 for 16 with the adoption rate at 100% as all puppies and kittens featured in “Puppy Bowl” to date have found their forever homes with loving families. And even though this past year has been different from year’s past, one thing is for certain—there will be a “Puppy Bowl”—and discovery+ and Animal Planet continue this annual tradition to highlight these special puppy players and kittens so that they can finally find the place they are meant to call ‘home.’

This year, 22 shelters and rescues from nine Northeastern States are enlisted to bring 70 incredible adoptable puppy players out for “Puppy Bowl” to sport their Team Ruff ‘Tail Mary Tangerine’ and Team Fluff ‘Bark Blue’ bandana colors. What genetic traits are these pups bringing to the game? With the Wisdom Panel™ dog DNA test, we’ll find out what’s beyond those big puppy dog eyes and how each dog’s breed mix might give them an advantage on the field. We’ll see their skills playout in the brand-new Geico Stadium, where these adoptable players have even more room to rumble and fumble!  Fan-favorite elements, including slow motion replays, nose-to-nose action from the famous water bowl cam, and aerial shots of the field from the brand-new Temptations Sky Box are all back this year, along with epic drone shots of puppy players across the arena that bring audiences as close as possible to all the game-play action. The Home Depot goal post nets serve as the backdrop to every touchdown and field goal as audiences have a front row seat view through lens of the cameras in the Chewy end zone pylons.

Joining this year as “Puppy Bowl XVII” announcers are ESPN’s Monday Night Football play- by- play announcer Steve Levy and SportsCenter host Sage Steele who will be providing puppy analysis throughout the game! The “Puppy Bowl XVII” Pre-Game Show begins at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT where long-time “Puppy Bowl” sports correspondents Rodt Weiler, James Hound and Sheena Inu, and field reports Brittany Spaniel and Herman Shepard pump up the crowd with pup insights on the furry matchups before the big game. Sponsored by [ yellow tail ]® wine, the Pre-Game Show will also offer ideas on how to create a “Puppy Bowl” “tail”gate party for the perfect viewing experience. The game opens with a special performance of the National Anthem by singing-group and internet sensation, Boys World, before kicking off with the pups of the Pedigree Starting Lineup, who are giving it their all to compete for the one and only Bissell MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) award by scoring the most touchdowns. Who will take home the title this year to join the greats of puppies past in the Puppy Bowl MVP Hall of Fame? Tune in to find out this and which lucky pup will also take home the coveted Subaru of America Inc. Underdog Award!

Joining the game for the 10th year in a row is America’s favorite “Rufferee,” Dan Schachner, who, after a decade, is ready to call the puppy penalties, ruffs & tumbles, and pawsome touchdowns for a game unlike any other. Award-winning animal advocate and television correspondent Jill Rappaport also returns to introduce the Subaru of America, Inc. Pup Close and Personal segments that shine a light on some of these adorable athletes and other adoptable puppies across the country, in addition to the special Senior Spotlight stories which showcase that age is just a number with senior dogs who are ultimately puppies at heart.

This year’s Pup Close and Personal highlights include a special profile of actress and animal advocate Kristen Bell who has teamed up with Annenberg PetSpace in Los Angeles to spend time with Java, a Labrador mix puppy looking for a fur-ever home to snuggle in; Biscuit, a very special Maltese mix pup from Paw Works in LA, who gets a special day out with one lucky kid baker from Food Network’s ‘Kid Baking Championship,’ where we’ll also hear from hosts Valerie Bertinelli & Duff Goldman; Fozzie, a Foster Dogs Inc. Norwegian Elkhound who experiences his first ever grooming from Harlem Doggie Day Spa; and Foofur, a Shepherd mix puppy who is cared for by a very special foster under the PAWS Chicago foster program. Other in-depth profiles include Marshall, a deaf Boston Terrier mix rescue pup who’s training with Green Dogs Unleashed to be a therapy dog, where at a local hospital, he will provide a group of COVID ER nurses with a much-needed mental break in the midst of the pandemic; Jett, a double front amputee Labrador mix from Pets With Disabilities in Maryland, who is prepping for the big game with regular jaunts along the countryside with his fellow special needs cat and dog companions; and Stitch, a Hound mix, who at Wilburton Inn-New England dog friendly resort in Vermont, enjoys a special day out at the Inn on a mission to meet an adopter, before getting scrappy on the field.

Audiences will also see four incredible Senior Spotlight profiles that include Scoobert, an 8-year-old Chihuahua Boxer mix from mix from Young at Heart Sanctuary in Chicago who even though is a senior pooch with medical needs, has a special zest for life; veterinarian Dr. Kwane Stewart, aka @thestreetvet, who treats homeless dogs off the streets of Los Angeles at no cost; Mona, a 10-year-old Toy Poodle mix who undergoes reiki healing sessions at Den Retreat in Los Angeles for a more peaceful state of mind; and Blossom, an American Staffordshire Terrier, who has become the poster pup for the ‘Pitbulls in flower crowns’ series by rescue advocate and photographer Sophie Gamand. Puppy Bowl XVII will also feature five special needs players who are looking forward to finding their loving home including Jett, and four hearing impaired pups including Marshall, a Boston Terrier; Fletcher, an American Bull Dog; Theodore, a Pyr Border Collie; and Rumor, a Heeler mix.

Additionally, for the first time ever on the sidelines, our Team Ruff and Team Fluff players will be cheered on by none other than adoptable puppy cheerleaders who will root and howl for their favorite players. These cheerleading pups will turn up the volume with cuteness overload by shaking their pom poms as the Puppy Bowl XVII players make their way down the field! Midway through the game, get ready to turn up the beat and put on your dancing shoes for the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal™ Kitty Half-Time Show. Audiences will experience the neon dance party they’ve been waiting for all year and rave to the purr-fect beats dropped by senior rescue cat DJ Grand Master Scratch. As an after-party treat, viewers will even be able to see a special adoption update on where these dancing felines found their loving new homes with their loving new forever dance partners.

As a bonus treat for this year’s Puppy Bowl XVII, audiences will also see exciting new ‘Adoptable Pup’ segments, hosted by Dan Schachner and sponsored by Chewy. Sprinkled throughout the program, 11 shelters from around the country will feature one of their special pups (and a few kittens during Kitty Half-Time!) that are all up for adoption during the game!

Puppy Bowl digital audiences can point their paws to PuppyBowl.com to vote for their favorite pup in the ‘Pupularity Playoffs’ bracket style tournament featuring photos by Instagram sensation @TheDogist. Audiences can also check out an exciting live puppy playtime scrimmage on Animal Planet’s TikTok in the lead up to Puppy Bowl XVII. Fans may also be able to see their own animal featured in a photo gallery on PuppyBowl.com when they post a pic of their fur-baby watching Puppy Bowl XVII and tag #PuppyBowl. For more fun social content, head to FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok for original videos, GIFs, Instagram Stickers, a Puppy Bowl AR Filter, and more. Audiences can also follow discovery+ on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Fans can also access even more furry fun and exclusive content by downloading Discovery+. Leading up to “Puppy Bowl,” Discovery+ and Animal Planet GO users will find exclusive in-app original programming, including the “Puppy Bowl” midform series “Pupclose & Personal”, where NFL stars Chris Godwin, Ronnie Stanley, and Ryan Kerrigan reveal their personal pup adoption stories to share why they’re so passionate about canine causes. Pus, we’ll also see Dan the Ref take us down memory lane, highlighting the very best and firsts of “Puppy Bowl’s” 17-year history. Additionally, fans are also invited to Tweet along with game day commentator Meep The Bird and vote in real time, for the winner of the Most Valuable Puppy award. Results will be revealed during the epic program.

Official “Puppy Bowl XVII” sponsors include Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal, Bissell, Chewy, Geico, The Home Depot, Pedigree, Subaru of America Inc., Temptations, Wisdom Panel dog DNA test and [ yellow tail ]® wine.

For more information about the shelters, rescues and organizations that participated in “Puppy Bowl XVII” Animal Planet audiences can visit Puppybowl.com/Adopt.

“Puppy Bowl XVII” is produced for Animal Planet by Bright Spot Content, an All3Media America company. Simon Morris is executive producer and showrunner with Cindy Kain and Sandy Varo Jarrell also serving as executive producers. For Animal Planet, Dawn Sinsel serves as senior executive producer and Pat Dempsey is supervising producer.

Pet Valu announces closure of all U.S. operations; Canada operations to remain open

November 4, 2020

(Photo courtesy of Pet Valu)

The following is a press release from Pet Valu:

Pet Valu, Inc. (“Pet Valu U.S.”), a specialty retailer of pet food and supplies in the United States, today announced plans to commence a wind down of its operations due to severe impact from COVID-19. The Company expects that all of its 358 stores and warehouses in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S., as well as its corporate office in Wayne, PA, will close by the end of the wind-down process.

Pet Valu U.S. licenses its name and contracts for certain services from Pet Valu Canada, which is a separate company based in Markham, Ontario that is not impacted by this wind down. Pet Valu Canada is a market leading, highly profitable and growing business with a tremendous history and a very bright future. Pet Valu Canada will continue to serve customers across Canada through its approximately 600 stores, franchise locations and e-commerce site at www.petvalu.com/ca/, offering its usual assortment of thousands of pet products and supplies and in-store services such as dog washes and grooming. 

All Pet Valu stores in the U.S. are currently open and ready to serve their devoted pet lover customers through the wind-down process. Customers in the U.S. can continue to use Pet Valu gift cards and loyalty rewards for purchases. Effective immediately, U.S. customers will no longer be able to place orders on the Pet Valu U.S. e-commerce site at www.petvalu.com/us/.

Jamie Gould, Pet Valu, Inc.’s recently appointed Chief Restructuring Officer, said, “The Pet Valu U.S. team is proud to have met the needs of our devoted pet lover customers in the U.S. for more than 25 years. However, the Company’s stores have been significantly impacted by the protracted COVID-19-related restrictions. After a thorough review of all available alternatives, we made the difficult but necessary decision to commence this orderly wind down.”

He continued, “During the store closing process, we will continue to provide our customers with the same great in-store experience, offering them even better deals and value. We will work to assist our dedicated associates through the transition. We thank all of them for their commitment to our company and our customers, and especially for going above and beyond so we could help customers as an essential service during the pandemic.”

Pet Valu U.S. expects to commence store closing sales at all locations in the U.S. in the coming days. The Company will continue to take necessary precautions to keep its stores safe for customers and employees.

The Company has retained Malfitano Partners as its restructuring advisor, SB360 Capital Partners, LLC to assist with store closing sales and A&G Realty Partners, LLC to assist on U.S. real estate-related matters. Mr. Gould joins Pet Valu, Inc. from a successful career of retail restructuring in global assignments in the apparel, eyewear and office products industries. William Transier, Chief Executive Officer of Transier Advisors, has been appointed as independent director to the Board of Directors of Pet Valu, Inc.

AMC Networks partners with Adopt-A-Pet.com for FurFest adoption promotion

October 20, 2020

The following is a press release from AMC Networks:

AMC Networks today announced it has teamed up with Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, for AMC’s annual horror marathon FearFest, to raise awareness for pet adoption with ‘FurFest.’ All month long, AMC, AMC+, and Shudder are encouraging viewers to support Adopt-a-Pet.com’s mission to end the overpopulation of companion animals in shelters and help pets find loving forever homes through custom, PET-tacular spots airing across linear, digital, and social channels.

The custom spots, featuring a few four-legged horror fans, encourage viewers to find their perfect watch buddies through adoptions and especially raise awareness for black cat and black dog adoptions this spooky season. Halloween may be the season for magical black cats, but in reality, they are most often left behind in shelters because of the color of their fur. Many animal welfare organizations call this “black cat syndrome,” with the phenomenon happening with black dogs as well. Through the collaboration, audiences are encouraged and inspired to help fight “black cat syndrome” by adopting these furry friends or by donating to Adopt-a-Pet.com. See the custom spot: 

“We all know that spooky season is best enjoyed with a buddy by your side, which is why we’re thrilled to join forces with Adopt-a-Pet.com to help viewers find their perfect four-legged watch companions,” said Linda Schupack, President of Marketing, AMC Networks Entertainment Group. “The movies on AMC’s FearFest and Shudder are already scary enough. How great to cuddle up with a lovely black cat or black dog for Halloween and beyond.”

“Teaming up with AMC Networks is an exciting and unique way to spread the word about pet adoption,” said Dana Puglisi, Chief Marketing Officer of Adopt-a-Pet.com. “We appreciate AMC and Shudder’s efforts to help get more pets into loving homes. And we love all the extra snuggles those newly adopted pets will receive while their people binge through the FearFest thrills!”

Now in its 24th consecutive year, AMC’s annual horror marathon FearFest brings the frights with an entire month of genre programming from iconic franchises like Halloween and Insidious, and the return of award-winning docuseries Eli Roth’s History of HorrorShudder, dubbed “the ultimate in streaming horror” by Newsweek, offers the best selection of original and classic horror, thriller and supernatural films and series, uncut and commercial free. Both are also now available as part of the new AMC+, a premium streaming bundle featuring only the good stuff, which also includes IFC Midnight’s best genre cinema from independent, foreign and documentary films. In addition to the largest slate of classic horror movies such as Friday the 13th and Halloween, AMC+ also includes all series within The Walking Dead Universe, as well as AMC’s Eli Roth’s History of Horror, and new Shudder programming, such as Joe Bob’s Halloween Hideaway Special and A Creepshow Animated Special, and much more.

See the full FearFest lineup.


Find the Best in Horror at Shudder.

About AMC Networks

Known for its groundbreaking and celebrated original content, AMC Networks is the company behind the award-winning brands AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and IFC Films. Its diverse line-up of popular and critically-acclaimed series and independent films include Killing EveBetter Call Saul and The Walking Dead, which has been the #1 show on ad-supported cable television for ten consecutive years, as well as PortlandiaBrockmireLove After Lockup, and the films BoyhoodDeath of Stalin, and many more. Its original series Mad Men and Breaking Bad are widely recognized as being among the most influential and acclaimed shows in the history of TV. The Company also operates AMC Studios, its production business; AMC Networks International, its international programming business; the subscription streaming services Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, and UMC; and Levity Entertainment Group, the Company’s production services and comedy venues business. For more information, visit http://www.amcnetworks.com.

About Shudder

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit ​www.shudder.com​.

About Adopt-a-Pet.com

Adopt-a-Pet.com is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, helping over 19,000 animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their purebred and mixed breed pets for free to millions of adopters each month. Sponsored by companies including Purina, Chewy, and Elanco Animal Health LLC, Adopt-a-Pet.com helps homeless dogs, cats, and even rabbits and other animals go from alone to adopted.

CBS All Access announces ‘That Animal Rescue Show’

September 22, 2020

“That Animal Rescue Show” (Photo by Danny Matson/CBS Interactive, Inc.)

The following is a press release from CBS All Access:

 CBS All Access, ViacomCBS’ digital subscription video on-demand and live streaming service, today revealed the official trailer and key art for its upcoming original docuseries “That Animal Rescue Show.” Executive produced by five-time Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater and two-time Academy Award winner Bill Guttentag, all 10 episodes will be available to binge exclusively for CBS All Access subscribers on Thursday, October 29, 2020.

“That Animal Rescue Show” follows the animal rescue community in and around Austin, Texas, where Linklater lives. The 10-episode docuseries provides a window into this captivating world through moving, humorous and powerful stories of animals, the humans who love them and the inspiring, life-changing bond that occurs between people who have dedicated their lives to rescue and the animals who rescue them right back.

“That Animal Rescue Show” is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Dr. Phil’s Stage 29, Linklater’s Detour Filmproduction, and Guttentag and Nayeema Raza’s 1891 Productions. The series is distributed internationally by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group. An episode of the series was accepted as part of the official selection for the 2020 Telluride Film Festival. In addition to Linklater, Guttentag and Raza, the series is also executive produced by Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw and Julia Eisenman.

“That Animal Rescue Show” joins CBS All Access’ growing slate of original series that currently includes “The Good Fight,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Tooning Out the News,” “No Activity,” “Why Women Kill,” “Interrogation,” “The Thomas John Experience” and “Tell Me a Story,” as well as the upcoming limited event series “The Stand,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “The Harper House” and “Guilty Party.” CBS All Access is also the exclusive domestic home to “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Star Trek: Picard,” the animated series “Star Trek: Lower Decks” and the U.S.S Enterprise set series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

About CBS All Access:

CBS All Access is ViacomCBS’ direct-to-consumer digital subscription video on-demand and live streaming service. CBS All Access gives subscribers the ability to watch more than 20,000 episodes and movies on demand – including exclusive original series, current and past seasons of hit shows from the CBS Television Network and growing libraries from brands across the ViacomCBS portfolio including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian and more, as well as a wealth of films from Paramount Pictures. The service is also the streaming home to unmatched sports programming, including every CBS Sports event, from golf to football to basketball and more, plus exclusive streaming rights for major sports properties, including some of the world’s biggest and most popular soccer leagues. CBS All Access also enables subscribers to stream local CBS stations live across the U.S. in addition to the ability to stream ViacomCBS Digital’s other live channels: CBSN for 24/7 news, CBS Sports HQ for sports news and analysis, and ET Live for entertainment coverage.

The service is currently available across all major device platforms including online, mobile and connected TV and OTT platforms and services. Versions of CBS All Access have launched internationally in Canada and Australia (10 All Access), with unique but similar content and pricing plans. For more details on CBS All Access, please visit https://www.cbs.com/all-access.

About CBS Television Studios:

CBS Television Studios is one of the industry’s leading suppliers of programming with more than 70 series currently in production across broadcast and cable networks, streaming services and other emerging platforms. The Studio’s expansive portfolio spans a diverse slate of commercially successful and critically acclaimed scripted programming, genre-defining franchises including the ever-growing “Star Trek” universe, award-winning late night and daytime talk shows, and an extensive library of iconic intellectual property.

EDITOR’S NOTE: CBS All Access will rebrand as Paramount+, which goes into effect in early 2021.

HBO Max premieres ‘The Dog House UK’

July 9, 2020

“The Dog House” UK (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max’s heartwarming unscripted series The Dog House: UK is moving up its premiere date to Thursday, July 23, 2020.

Finding forever homes for rejected dogs isn’t easy – but that’s exactly what the staff of Wood Green do every day. Set inside a rural British animal rescue center known for its commitment to matching homeless dogs with eager owners, The Dog House: UK captures the joy and complexity of the human-dog “dating” experience. Each of the first season’s eight episodes introduces tearful tales of abandoned dogs, while also touching on relatable backstories of families, couples, and singletons all hoping their lives will be changed by a new four-legged friend. It’s up to the center’s dedicated staff to match pet with potential new owner – and to arrange an all-important first date that will determine if the adorable pups and hopeful humans have that fated connection. The show was originally produced by Five Mile Films for Channel 4 in the UK for distribution by all3media International.

HBO Max greenlights dog-grooming competition show; Jess Rona leads the panel of judges

April 17, 2020

Jess Rona (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, announced today the greenlight of Hot Dog (working title), from Jax Media and Making It’s Nicolle Yaron. The twelve-episode, half-hour series features three dog groomers facing off in a full head-to-tail creative competition showcasing canine breeds of all kinds.

Inspired by the social platforms and coffee table book from celebrity dog grooming expert Jess Rona, each episode will include imaginative challenges and out of the box themes meant to spotlight the best looks for man’s best friend. Featuring comedic commentary from celebrity guests and a host, Rona will lead the judging panel with the Best in Show winner walking away with a cash prize and first place rosette.

Jess Rona built a following online with her signature slo-motion blow dry videos and serves as the dog grooming artist to many celebrity dogs. In addition to grooming, she is the author of Groomed, the director of Tegan and Sarah’s Closer video, and has appeared on Drunk History and New Girl.

“Jess Rona has made a name for herself as dog groomer-to-the stars and it is so fun to be able to bring her incredibly successful online brand and business to life in this way, ” said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president of original non-fiction and kids programming for HBO Max. “Expect pure escapism that the whole family can watch together and root for their favorite pooch with the most fabulous and creative trans-fur-mations.”

Hot Dog is a comedy competition series from JAX Media as they continue to expand their slate into the unscripted space.

“We are very excited to work with Nicolle, Jess and HBO Max on this very important project. There’s no better time to watch a dog get a bath than now,” says JAX Media’s partners Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, Brooke Posch and John Skidmore.

The series will be executive produced by Jax Media’s Tony Hernandez, Brooke Posch and Séamus Murphy-Mitchell along with Making It’s Nicolle Yaron and Jess Rona. Abi McCarthy has been tapped as showrunner.

“Haute Dog” (Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO Max)

September 16, 2020 UPDATE:

“Haute Dog,” HBO Max’s head-to-tail dog grooming creative competition series showcasing canine breeds of all kinds is launching with its first six episodes on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Emmy nominee Robin Thede (“A Black Lady Sketch Show”) is joining celebrity dog groomer Jess Rona to judge the imaginative challenges and out of the box themes meant to spotlight the best looks for man’s best friend. These doggy makeover wizards compete to turn the K-9s into K-10s. Matt Rogers (“Las Culturistas”) serves as the show’s host.

The most adorable competition series ever created, each episode features three dog groomers facing off over two rounds. Rogers provides comedic commentary as Rona leads the judging panel with her extensive knowledge of breeds and proper grooming techniques, with Thede serving as “haute” expert evaluating the outrageous and jaw-dropping transformations. The judges determine who wins Best in Show, with the lucky groomer walking away with $10,000 and a first place rosette. Rona’s coffee table book Groomed and social platforms, including her signature slo-motion blow dry videos, inspired the series.

Jax Media completed production of the series over four weeks this summer in Simi Valley following full union guidelines and COVID protocols, with zero positive results from cast, crew and producers. Tests were conducted regularly across four weeks of production from load in to strike.

About HBO Max
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting in spring 2020. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content anticipated at launch, HBO Max will offer powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from Warner Media’s rich library including Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. Sign up for updates at HBOMax.com.

About WarnerMedia
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

About JAX MEDIA
Founded in 2011, JAX Media is a television and film production juggernaut run by Partners Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Brooke Posch with offices in New York, Los Angeles and London. Jax Media has created a production model that allows talent to maintain control of their content and the results have been answered with awards and critical acclaim. As a company, they provide comprehensive production from development through post with a highly experience in-house production team who expertly implements the unique Jax Media model that has proven itself time and time again as a success for studios, networks and creatives alike. Jax Media currently has 11 shows in production and was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards for the 2018-2019 TV season alone

2020 Beverly Hills Dog Show: NBC special postponed

March 30, 2020

Bono, the Havanese winner of Best in Show at the 2019 Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina (Photo by Nicole Weingart/NBCUniversal)

The following is a press release from NBC:

Due to post production delays, the 2020 “Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina,” which was taped Feb. 29 and scheduled to air April 5 on NBC, will now air at a later date to be announced.*

In its original April 5 timeslot, (12:30-2:30 p.m. ET / 9:30-11:30 a.m. PT), NBC will broadcast the 2019 Beverly Hills Dog Show, featuring Best in Show winner Bono.

Last year, a 3-year-old Havanese named Bono was crowned Best in Show. The little canine from the Toy group is the most-winning Havanese in the breed’s history with over 90 Best in Show titles. Previous Beverly Hills Dog Show winners include 2018’s King, a Wire Fox Terrier, and 2017’s Ripcord, a Doberman Pinscher.

In celebration of man’s best friend and with the glamour only Beverly Hills can provide, the star-studded competition is co-hosted by award-winning TV personality, author and Broadway actor John O’Hurley and American Kennel Club-licensed judge and expert analyst David Frei.

Hosted by the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills and produced by NBC Sports, “The Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina” is a new breed of dog show and must-see viewing for the whole family. Before more than 1,500 dogs representing 200 eligible breeds and varieties face off for the coveted Best in Show title, the canine competitors will mingle with celebrity guests and strut their stuff on the red carpet. For the main event, each group winner will walk the show’s unique runway for the Best in Show judge to determine which dog has what it takes to be champion.

“We all love our dogs, of course,” Frei said. “We invite fans to celebrate these four-legged stars with us at the Beverly Hills Dog Show where they can cheer their favorites. After it’s over, hug your own dog and remind them they’re always Best in Show.”

This year’s dog-loving celebrity guests include Lauren Ash, Brian Baumgartner, Reece Caddell, Jade Catta-Preta, Olivia Culpo, Ester Dean, Bo Derek, Doug the Pug, Parveen Kaur, MJ Javid & Tommy Feight, Nastia Liukin, Greg Louganis, Ariana Madix, Justine Marino, Caitlin McGee, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier and Jocko Sims.

Two newly AKC-sanctioned breeds will compete to be top dog this year. The Barbet (sporting group) is a water dog from France with a long, sweeping tail, a dense coat of curly hair and a distinctive beard. He’s an agile athlete with a bright, friendly nature. The Dogo Argentino (working group) is a strong and intelligent hunting dog from Argentina, originally bred to hunt big game such as boar and mountain lion. He has a short white coat and expressive face.

ABOUT JOHN O’HURLEY

Award-winning television personality, author and Broadway star John O’Hurley is host of “The Beverly Hills Dog Show Present by Purina” and “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” on NBC. Dubbed one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive,” he is best known as J. Peterman on “Seinfeld,” for which he received a Screen Actors Guild Award. He was also the ultimate champion of the first “Dancing with the Stars” television show. He has authored three books – “Before the Dog Can Eat Your Homework First You Have to Do It: Life Lessons From a Wise Old Dog to a Young Boy” (Hudson Street Press, 2007), the New York Times bestseller “It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump” (Plume, 2007) and his latest book for children, “The Perfect Dog” (Grosset & Dunlap, 2013), which since its release has inspired “The Perfect Dog,” a musical designed for children’s theatre. The musical production is licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide as part of its Theatre for Young Audiences catalogue. He is currently starring in his own one-man show, “A Man with Standards,” a humorous and poignant take on his life and experiences in show business.

ABOUT DAVID FREI

America’s foremost authority on all things canine, David Frei is a natural choice to serve as host and expert analyst for “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” and “The Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina” on NBC. An American Kennel Club (AKC)-licensed judge who has officiated dog shows all over the world, Frei hosted television coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for 27 years. A successful former breeder/handler/owner, he is proudest of the work his therapy dogs have done at the Ronald McDonald House of New York, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the New York VA Hospital, among other health-related institutions. Frei’s first book, “The Angel by My Side” (Hay House Publishing, 2002, with Mike Lingenfelter), claimed two Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) Awards. His latest book, “Angel on a Leash” (BowTie Press, 2011), also a DWAA award winner, tells of his years of experience and work with therapy dogs. Frei was inducted into the Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame in 2018.

ABOUT MARIA MENOUNOS

Emmy Award-winning journalist, TV personality, motivational speaker, New York Times bestselling author, host of the Noovie cinema pre-show and co-founder/CEO of the AfterBuzz TV Streaming Networks, Maria Menounos has gained numerous achievements throughout her career in the news and entertainment industry. One of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful, Menounos holds the distinct honor of having conducted the only sit-down interview with the Obama family, an interview ABC News heralded as a deciding factor in President Obama’s historic victory. Currently, Menounos hosts the Noovie cinema pre-show seen daily in 70% of America’s movie theaters, and her weekly podcast, “Conversations with Maria Menounos,” introduces listeners to stars, newsmakers and successful women in engaging conversations on their journeys, advice and passions. As one of the only female CEO’s in the tech world, Menounos heads the AfterBuzz TV digital broadcast streaming network, which produces more than 150 hours of weekly programming for over 120 countries worldwide. Menounos’ AfterBuzz TV mentorship program has helped launch careers for the likes of Fox TV’s Eboni K. Williams, WWE Superstars Sonia Deville and Cathy Kelly, Netflix’s Koramo Brown, “Entertainment Tonight’s” Courtney Tezeno and Deirdre Behar, and hundreds of others.

ABOUT MARY CARILLO

Mary Carillo is a former professional tennis player who has earned awards and accolades for her work as a television analyst and has become a fixture at the Olympic Games for more than two decades as a reporter, analyst and host. Carillo has received two coveted Peabody Awards, one for her work on the HBO documentary “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer” and the other for co-writing, with Frank Deford, the HBO documentary “Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sport.” She was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2018. Carillo was also named best commentator by both Tennis magazine and World Tennis magazine and broadcaster of the year by the WTA. She has co-written two books — “Tennis My Way,” with Martina Navratilova, and Rick Elstein’s “Tennis Kinetics.” Carillo played on the professional tennis tour from 1977-80. Teaming with childhood friend John McEnroe, she won the 1977 French Open mixed doubles title. In 1977 she was a doubles quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open and a doubles runner-up at the U.S. Clay Court Championships.

ABOUT AKBAR GBAJABIAMILA

Akbar Gbajabiamila is host of NBC’s three-time Emmy Award-nominated hit competition series “American Ninja Warrior,” which begins its 12th season this summer. He is also the host of “American Ninja Warrior Juniors” on the Universal Kids Network. Gbajabiamila is a former NFL star who currently hosts one of NFL Network’s highest-rated shows, “NFL Fantasy Live.” He has made headlines being parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by Drake, as well as hailed in the media as a hero for chasing down a hit-and-run suspect who sideswiped a Los Angeles motorcycle cop. Gbajabiamila made his acting debut on NBC’s “The Night Shift,” as well as hosted NBC’s 2017 “Red Nose Day Special” and “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.”

ABOUT PURINA

Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness. Subscribe here to get the latest Purina news.

*April 28, 2020 UPDATE:

· NBC will air the 2020 “Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina” on Sunday, May 17 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). The special, which was taped on Feb. 29, was previously postponed due to post-production delays.

· In celebration of man’s best friend and with the glamour only Beverly Hills can provide, the star-studded competition is co-hosted by award-winning TV personality, author and Broadway actor John O’Hurley and American Kennel Club-licensed judge and expert analyst David Frei. Mary Carillo, Akbar Gbajabiamila and Maria Menounos serve as contributors, and this year’s dog-loving celebrity guests include Lauren Ash, Brian Baumgartner, Reece Caddell, Jade Catta-Preta, Olivia Culpo, Ester Dean, Bo Derek, Doug the Pug, Parveen Kaur, MJ Javid & Tommy Feight, Nastia Liukin, Greg Louganis, Ariana Madix, Justine Marino, Caitlin McGee, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier and Jocko Sims.

· Leading up to the May 17 broadcast, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will present “The Dog Days of Spring” primetime marathon from May 4 – May 7 (7 p.m.-3 a.m. ET) and May 8 – May 9 (8 p.m-3 a.m. ET) featuring past competitions of “The Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina,” “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” and “Incredible Dog Challenge.”

· Last year, a 3-year-old Havanese named Bono was crowned the 2019 Best in Show. The little canine from the Toy group is the most-winning Havanese in the breed’s history with over 90 Best in Show titles. Previous Beverly Hills Dog Show winners include 2018’s King, a Wire Fox Terrier, and 2017’s Ripcord, a Doberman Pinscher. On April 5, NBC aired a re-broadcast of the 2019 Beverly Hills Dog Show, which was the second highest rated sports program of the weekend across all networks and was watched by an average of over 1.2M viewers.

· Hosted by the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills and produced by NBC Sports, “The Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina” is a new breed of dog show and must-see viewing for the whole family. Before more than 1,500 dogs representing 200 eligible breeds and varieties face off for the coveted Best in Show title, the canine competitors will mingle with celebrity guests and strut their stuff on the red carpet. For the main event, each group winner will walk the show’s unique runway for the Best in Show judge to determine which dog has what it takes to be champion.