Heidi is looking forward to weighing in with her dog’s-eye view of Dog News Daily’s 1st Annual Golden Collar Awards on Feb. 13. The SC Patch is proud to say that our Heidi is the only dog reporter who has been invited to cover this first-time event.
(A little Hollywood history on animal awards: The PATSY Awards, originated by the Hollywood office of the American Humane Association, existed from 1939 to 1986. The Picture Animal Top Star of the Year could go to any animal; winners have included the pig that portrayed Arnold Ziffel on Green Acres).
However, Heidi is relatively new to the Awards Season journalism game. She's a dog. More concerned with whether there will be treats on the Red Carpet than with breaking news, Heidi remains blissfully unaware of the controversy that has raged around the Golden Collars during this past week.
Heidi fetches the Los Angeles Times every morning, but rarely reads it. If she had, she would know about the Jan. 29 Op-Ed piece by celebrated director Martin Scorsese, who protested the fact that Blackie, the beautiful Doberman who plays a guard dog in Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated Hugo, was at first not nominated for a Golden Collar.
In his tongue-in-cheek piece, Scorsese growled that cute little Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who tears up the screen in The Artist, was nominated, and Blackie wasn’t despite her moving performance. Scorsese attributed Blackie’s lack of a nomination to the fact that she played the heavy instead of the hero. This girl was no Lassie.
The director called for a write-in campaign for Blackie. It worked. Dog News Daily soon agreed to add Blackie to the nominees if at least 500 supporters wrote in. And write they did. After all, you talkin’ to Scorsese. Blackie is now on the ballot.
The controversy brought unexpected attention to the upcoming awards. Sources close to the Golden Collars tell me that, since Scorsese’s rant, so many U.S. and Canadian journalists have requested credentials to cover the awards that they have had to find a bigger venue (details being finalized). Luckily, Heidi, who bonded with Uggie at the nominations ceremony, is still allowed to bring me along as her guest despite the crush of press attention. Somebody’s gotta hold the leash.
But, as an occasional actress and proud German shepherd, Heidi, a 70-pound starlet with a smile than lends new meaning to the word “canines,” has particular reason to be sympathetic to Blackie’s cause.
When Heidi began her acting career, her Hollywood trainer, Sue DiSesso, told us the first thing Heidi had to do was get a “speak” on her – that is, learn to bark on cue. Why? Because German Shepherds, like Dobermans, always play the heavy. Alas, Heidi would never portray the family pet.
In order to transform Heidi into a believable bad dog, one of the first things we did was to try her out with a snarl device, a plastic contraption that fits into a dog’s mouth and creates the look of an angry beast without actually having to provoke the canine actor to the point of being dangerous. These gizmos are probably used less in the era of CGI than in the past. Effective? Well, you be the judge. The e-mailed photo definitely scared my mother-in-law.
For human actresses, playing mean and scary tends to result in Academy Award nods (note Glenn Close’s nomination for portraying a bunny-boiling psycho in Fatal Attraction, or Charlize Theron’s win for Monster). But it’s hard to say whether the trend will instead be toward small, cute and cuddly for the Golden Collars.
Heidi loves Uggie, and I can imagine her romping with Blackie in the park. May the best dog win. But if she sniffs any hint of bias, the Golden Collar people have to answer to Heidi. Once again, refer to the photo of Heidi wearing her snarl device. You talkin’ to her.