"Fame is fleeting," said Harvey Weinstein introducing Coriolanus last week at the film's Paris Theater premiere. Juxtaposing the all night Golden Globe parties with his turn on television with Uggie, the canine star of his movie The Artist, Weinstein noted, one minute I'm accepting awards (The Artist, My Week with Marilyn, The Iron Lady, were among Weinstein films honored with top prizes), the next I'm on the Today show with a dog. But what a dog!
Anticipating the Best Picture Oscar nod, Uggie's PR people called for a photo op at the Empire State Building, on the 86th floor deck. With his trainer and owner Omar von Muller, the Jack Russell terrier played dead and eh, manned a skateboard. Ever since Cannes, this "rescued" dog has been a secret darling of the film: at the New York Film Festival opening, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius was asked how he worked with the dog. Sausages. The reply seems to have gone viral.
At the Hamptons International Film Festival where the film won the audience award, everyone wanted to know, where's Uggie? Penelope Ann Miller made the excuse, "He's working." That was probably true. A pro, he's been in a number of films including Water for Elephants and is nominated for two Golden Collar Awards.
When I asked Omar what Uggie's favorite treat is, Oh he'll eat anything. Sausages? The media made too much of that. There's one dog food, Natural Balance, that looks and smells like sausage. We kept cutting that up for him. We don't give him junk.
Meantime, The Artist is the ultimate homage to Hollywood for the obvious reasons: it traces that transition from silent films to talkies, as does the classic of that genre, Singing in the Rain. But its art belies a sly relationship to Hollywood too. How does this French team break the language barrier? Silent, Jean Dujardin is a charming and talented leading man, possessing an irresistible je ne sais quoi. Ditto for Uggie
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.