Thursday, December 20, 2012


It’s hard to think about Christmas when last week’s events in Connecticut are still so fresh in our minds. Yet Xmas is just days away now and if you’re looking for some holiday cheer, as well as some last minute stocking stuffers, you should grab the autobiography by Uggie the dog. He’s the canine actor who stole scenes and hearts in last year’s Oscar-winning Best Picture THE ARTIST. The name of the book is Uggie: My Story and it’s an uplifting story about making it in Hollywood. Just the kind of cheer we sorely need right now.
Uggie's paws were immortalized in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater this year. The first dog ever to do so!

Uggie wrote his story, ‘as barked to’ Wendy Holden, and it’s not only a fascinating tail-all about the ins and outs of Tinseltown, but it’s also a ringing endorsement of pet adoption. The loving family headed by famed animal trainer Omar von Muller got Uggie when his previous parents were about to take him to the pound. Uggie was a rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier who was quite the little Dickens, but unconditional love and patience turned Uggie into not only a lovable and sweet-natured pet but a naturally gifted performer who went on to become one of the most sought after dogs in show business.
Uggie at one of his book signings with his family - Terry, Omar and Mercy von Muller.

One look at the movie THE ARTIST and you can see why Uggie struck such a chord with audiences. He had a huge and vital role in the movie, playing the onscreen partner and off-screen best friend of silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). Uggie performed all the incredible scenes that were required of him with amazing aplomb. He handled comedy, drama, tragedy, and lots of stunts too. His standout scenes in the film are when he saves George from a fire, and when he pleads for the grief-stricken George to not commit suicide. The panic in Uggie in those scenes is palpable, and brought me to tears. His work was so profound it garnered serious Oscar consideration for him as supporting actor last year. The Academy didn't, ahem, bite, but Uggie had already won a special acting award at Cannes when THE ARTIST premiered there. And he won a slew of other awards after too, including the Golden Collar for best performance by an animal in a 2011 film.
Uggie performing with Jean Dujardin in the Oscar-winning Best Picture THE ARTIST (2011).

The behind-the-scenes of the making of THE ARTIST are some of the highlights in his book. Uggie tells about how he and Jean trained together, with the help of a pocket full of sausages to ‘reward’ Uggie for hitting his marks and knowing his lines. (All actors should be that compliant!) And Uggie tells about the journey from the audition process to filming to the press junkets and award shows where he became the toast of the town. It's a fascinating story, one that has turned the book into a bestseller. He's a sensation, and Uggie has quite the audience following him. He tweets and writes on Facebook every day, and on Facebook alone he has over 25,000 fans -- like me!

In the book, Uggie displays some cheeky wit, including some playful dissing of the various co-stars and celebrities he’s encountered. He dedicates his bio to Reese Witherspoon, his leading lady from WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, and writes of her, “I adored her. On or off screen, the atmosphere between us was electrically charged. Recently divorced with two small children, Miss W was surely in need of a new leading man in her life?”
Uggie showing WATER FOR ELEPHANTS co-star Reese Witherspoon that he's a better kisser than Robert Pattinson.

It’s a fun read, full of mock Hollywood brio on Uggie’s part, as when he ponders the popularity of Robert Pattinson. He can’t understand why, considering the actor doesn’t skateboard nearly as well as he does. Uggie also tells about his encounters with Tinseltown hotties on the red carpet, all clamoring for hugs and nuzzles, including Katy Perry. Of her Uggie quips, “She kissed a dog, and she liked it.”

And the book is touching too. Uggie writes candidly about his behavioral problems and how he went from being an unlikable problem pooch to the most beloved canine on the planet. The family of Omar and Mercy provided a truly loving home, one full of patience and physical affection, that really made Uggie feel wanted and at ease in his environment. It turned his trajectory from the pound to the stars. And it’s a moving story that heartily encourages pet adoption. In fact, Uggie’s book tour has been utilized to promote it because animal shelters are too crowded with dogs and cats all needing a good home. If Uggie can change, so can any animal. His message is all it takes is a little training and a lotta love.
Uggie on Oscar night with Best Actor winner and co-star Jean Dujardin.

Uggie is retiring now. He’s 10 and that’s getting up there in dog years, so he’s going out on top, capping his sterling career with a delightful biography that I cherished. I can’t think of a better message for the Christmas season than Uggie’s story of love and family. For any pet owner, or movie fan, Uggie: My Story is a must-read. Happy Holidays!

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