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He Shows Who’s Top Dog at CBS’ Show of Shows

May 18, 2008 8:30 PM

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

All together now: Practice, practice, practice.

Also, kiss CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler on the lips when she gets down on the floor with you and let her scratch you on your lower chest (only appropriate if you act on four little legs).

Last week at CBS’ upfront presentation, a 6-year-old Boston terrier named Pi reduced the SRO Carnegie Hall audience to a collective “awwwwwww” with one of those perfect moments on the fabled stage that signifies a performer has arrived.

After clips from the well-received summer reality series “America’s Greatest Dog,” Pi zoomed out from stage-right and across the stage, coming to a perfect stop in front of Ms. Tassler, who was scooched down and said what all hopefuls dread hearing: “I’m sorry. Auditions were last week.”

After one perfect hangdog look, Pi raced off stage-left. Pi is a rescue dog trained by Bill Berloni, who has made his name by turning rescue dogs into stars of Broadway shows including “Annie” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” He’s even written about it with Jim Hanrahan in “Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars,” to be published June 9 by Lyons Press. Pi, who needed much rehabilitation after being rescued from owners who kept him chained to a tree, is now a member of the Berloni family and has his own chapter in the book. He also appeared in “Doga: Yoga for Dogs,” the 2003 book by Jennifer Brilliant and Mr. Berloni, and has done print ads and TV commercials.

After his (bow)wow of an appearance for CBS, Pi and Mr. Berloni commemorated the debut by posing in front of Carnegie Hall for a picture taken by actress-pal Mary-Pat Green (if you’ve ever watched TV, you know her friendly face). That’s where Blink met the pooch, who is just as winning on the street as on-stage. The fact that Pi had the tough childhood that produces stars, is professional, is “Doga”-level flexible and plays well with others might make him perfect for TV, which has to work on tight schedules with actors who are quick studies and can hit their marks on cue, mightn’t it, Ms. Tassler?

“I’ll call casting,” the CBS executive said with a chuckle.

— Michele Greppi


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