My dog, Marley, is capable of many things, most of them having to do with the systematic destruction of our laundry room.
But I never thought I would see him end up in a feature-length film.
But there on the shelf at Blockbuster last week was the movie, an
adolescent baseball fantasy called The Last Home Run, which was filmed in Lake
Worth. And there in the credit lines, beneath all the actors and actresses of
the two-legged variety, was our mental mutt: ``Marley the Dog as himself.''
When we took Marley to the audition in 1995, director Bob Gosse, of the New
York studio The Shooting Gallery, said, ``We're looking for a big, dumb, loopy
dog to play the family pet.''
From the first moment Marley crashed onto the set, knocking over a
production assistant and galloping off with her checkbook, there was no
question he was right for the part. It also didn't hurt that he was the only
dog to try out.
So our 90-pound loopy lab was in, playing himself, panting and peeing and
stealing crackers off the cast buffet table.
``The dog's a little nutty,'' Gosse announced on Day 1. ``But unless he
completely overpowers the scene, we're not going to cut. Just keep it
Lights, cameras, mayhem!
And roll they did. In one scene, actress Danielle Comerford, a student at
the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, was talking on the phone in the
foreground, while behind her Marley was locked in mortal combat with his
I was certain we wouldn't be invited back. But the next morning, Gosse was
ebullient. The previous day's footage, he declared, was ``hilarious, just
Yeah, that was our Marley.
This was a low-budget shoot, and you can probably guess who the only unpaid
cast member was. But Marley didn't care. He was just happy to have new ankles
I must admit, stardom was intoxicating.
On Day 3 of shooting, I showed up as instructed at the Gulf Stream Hotel in
downtown Lake Worth. But the police had the streets barricaded and waved us
``We're with the cast,'' I called out the window. ``This is Marley the
The cop blew his whistle and shouted: ``It's Marley the Dog! Let them
It started to go to my head.
During a break in shooting, I was talking on a pay phone in the hotel
lobby, with Marley nearby. A concierge mistook the star for a stray and tried
shooing him out the door.
``Excuse me?'' I said, covering the mouthpiece. ``Do you have any idea who
you're talking to?'' Stardom was going to Marley's head, too.
I left him on the set for a couple hours and when I returned I found him
sprawled out like King Tut, happily accepting a belly rub from the crew's
beautiful makeup artist.
Shooting ended without Marley eating a single $30,000 camera, though he did
chew through a couple of leashes and swallowed someone's sock. Months passed
and the last we heard the company was still searching for a national
distributor for the film.
Then last week, we heard that the movie, like so many dashed efforts before
it, had gone straight to video. We rushed down to Blockbuster and, lucky us,
not a single copy was checked out.
All told, Marley was on the screen for about 90 seconds. But they were
certainly some of the livelier moments in this flop of a film.
``Look, boy, that's you!'' I yelled when Marley came on. He just yawned and
curled up under the coffee table.
My wife, who faithfully brushed Marley's teeth each morning during filming,
was more enthusiastic. This was just the beginning, she figured. Maybe next
time our desperately happy pooch would land a barking part.