Deadline contributor Diane Haithman filed this report.
Despite some earnest lobbying by director Martin Scorsese, the little dog from The Artist tonight snatched the Golden Collar Award for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film away from the big dog in Scorsese’s Hugo. That’s right — scene-stealer Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who barks silently in The Artist, proved that at least for dogs, the cute comic canine tends to win out over a serious actress like Blackie, who portrays the scary Doberman guard dog who hounds the children in Hugo.
This has indeed been a big year for dogs, if not a year for big dogs, in movies. The other nominees in this category included Denver, who played Skeletor in 50/50, Hummer as Dolce in Young Adult; Cosmo as Arthur in Beginners. Uggie was a dual nominee: he also played Queenie in Water For Elephants. It’s hard to say whether Hollywood was paying much attention to Dog News Daily’s First Annual Golden Collar Awards until Scorsese started a catfight.
Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater was almost empty on January 18 for the announcement of the nominees in categories including Best Dog in a Theatrical Film, Foreign Film, TV series, Reality TV Series, and this all-important category: Best Dog in a Direct-to-DVD Film (who knew there was a Marley 2: The Puppy Years?)
Uggie was nominated. Blackie was not. Scorsese barked. In a January 29 Op Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Scorsese complained that Blackie was snubbed because she played the heavy. “We all have fond memories of Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, the big stars, the heroes, but what about the antiheroes?” Scorsese wrote. “We have learned to accept the human antihero, but when it comes to dogs, I guess we still have a long way to go.”
Scorsese called for a write-in campaign. The press howled. According to Dog News Daily CEO Alan Siskind, some 300 news outlets picked up the story and the event had to be moved from Westwood’s Hotel Palomar to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel to accommodate the deluge of attendance requests. Dog News Daily wagged its tail, promising to nominate Blackie if at least 500 Blackie supporters wrote in. They did. Blackie was on the ballot.
But even though Scorsese appeared in a brief video clip at the awards ceremony to once again plead his case, looking mildly terrified sitting on a sofa next to a bored-looking Blackie, the award went to Uggie, the little mutt who does adorable tricks. Although award presenter Wendie Malick repeatedly pronounced his name as “You-gee” everybody knew which pooch had won. Deadline’s Pete Hammond was among the judges.
Something you should know about Uggie, however: The public loves him, but his Oscar-nominated director, Michel Hazanavicius, did not. His star and life partner, Bérénice Bejo, told me in a recent interview that Hazanavicius grew tired of everyone in the cast having to carry icky bits of sausage in their pockets to get Uggie to perform.
“He’s not a big fan of dogs,” Bejo said of Hazanavicius. “When we met, I arrived with a dog, and he arrived with his two girls. So I said, well, we have to take each other the way we are. He made fun of me. He said at least if your dog is bothering me, I can put him in a room and close the door. You can’t do that with my daughters. I said, that’s fair.”
It’s too soon to tell which will prove a better forecaster of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe or a Golden Collar. We also have no idea whether Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein have dogs, how big they are, or if they bite. But meantime, the rest of the winners:
BEST DOG IN A FOREIGN FILM : Koko as Red Dog in Red Dog
BEST DOG IN A TELEVISION SERIES: Bridgitte as Stella in Modern Family
BEST DOG IN A REALITY TELEVISION SERIES: Tie: Giggy in the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Hercules in Pit Boss
BEST DOG IN A DIRECT-TO-DVD FILM: Rowdy as Marley in Marley & Me: The Puppy Years
SPECIAL AWARDS: Humanitarian Award, Actress Charlize Theron. Legends Honorary Award, Director Michael Vance.