An­i­mal re­al­ity stars take a bite out of stereo­types

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY NANCY DUN­HAM

Some re­al­ity TV stars have avid fans, no pay­checks and lead mod­est lives. Their one de­mand: Plenty of nap­time. You may think the pup­pies, kit­tens and pot-bel­lied pigs of “Too Cute!” are only popular among chil­dren and old folks. But don’t be sur­prised if you dis­cover, as I did, that your spouse not only is a fan of the An­i­mal Planet show, but has en­listed friends who are ad­dicted, too.

“That is the ge­nius of An­i­mal Planet,” said David Ste­fanou, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of pro­gram­ming for True En­ter­tain­ment pro­duc­tion company.

Mr. Ste­fanou said the show is ex­pand­ing its of­fer­ings this sea­son to in­clude hol­i­day pro­grams, “pint-sized” an­i­mals, live “kitty” and “puppy” cams, and more. “It’s their gift to the world,” he said.

Who has time for this? The next time you’re on an air­plane, note how many pas­sen­gers have their per­sonal TV screens tuned to the show. I bet you’ll see, as I have, that most are tak­ing two-minute breaks to watch “Too Cute!” No won­der the show ranks in the Top 10 se­ries on An­i­mal Planet.

“Ev­ery ‘Too Cute!’ episode is loaded with ‘aww’ mo­ments, but my fa­vorite this sea­son fea­tures the bull­dog puppy Dex­ter — he’s a squeez­able, chunky lit­tle guy with sad eyes, and he tries so hard to jump over a rail that’s only a few inches off the ground,” said ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Lisa Lu­cas. “Gets me ev­ery time.”

Not that it’s easy to get those “aww” mo­ments. Crews travel all over the coun­try to film the stars about 4 hours a day for eight to 10 weeks. Then they take about 70 hours of footage and mold it into 34 one- to two-minute clips.

Like some re­al­ity stars, those cho­sen for “Too Cute” can be ornery. They bite or scratch or kick. Some even uri­nate on the crews.

And now the crews need to fig­ure out how to in­ter­act with species beyond the ca­nine and fe­line va­ri­ety.

“Pup­pies and kit­tens are very popular on An­i­mal Planet, but on ‘Too Cute!: Pint Sized’ you’ll meet Prickle the hedge­hog, who en­joys a swim in her baby pool along­side her puppy pals,” said Ms. Lu­cas. “The health and safety of the an­i­mals is al­ways our first pri­or­ity and be­cause we’re of­ten work­ing with tiny an­i­mals we are al­ways very con­scious and care­ful. We are very con­scious of how and where we move and use lights that don’t emit much heat. We also take plenty of tal­ent nap breaks!”

Ms. Lu­cas and Mr. Ste­fanou shared hu­mor­ous sto­ries about the shows’ stars that never made it to the tiny screen. They’ve used some of the footage for hol­i­day spe­cials.

“‘Merry Cute­ness’ is An­i­mal Planet’s hol­i­day gift to ‘Too Cute!’ fans,” said Ms. Lu­cas. “We’ve gath­ered tons of the very best ‘Too Cute!’ scenes fea­tur­ing pup­pies, kit­tens, a fer­ret, a hedge­hog, even a baby goat, and wrapped them up in a hol­i­day hour — just baby an­i­mals play­ing and be­ing adorable against a back­drop of holly and hol­i­day mu­sic.

“I watched the first rough cut and I se­ri­ously could not stop grin­ning — it’s THAT cute,” she said.

As the say­ing goes, “Stay Tuned” for broad­cast de­tails. Want some hol­i­day fun a bit sooner? An­i­mal Planet will premiere “Amer­ica’s Cutest Pets” at 9 p.m. Satur­day, Oct. 18. The one-hour show from Dis­ney World will be a “Howl-O-Ween PETac­u­lar,” An­i­mal Planet prom­ises.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.