Transcript

Puppy Bowl III

Molly Hermann
Producer, Discovery Productions
Friday, February 2, 2007; 3:00 PM

Molly Hermann, producer of the Puppy Bowl, Discovery Productions' counter programming strategy and alternative to this Sunday's titan Super Bowl, will be online Friday, Feb. 2, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the action on the playing field complete with penalty flags and the popular water bowl cam, pen, the players (all rescued canines), the voting (for MVP via AnimalPlanet.com, the Tailgate Party and an all-new edition of the Kitty Half-Time Show.

Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.

"Since it first aired in 2004, viewers of all ages connect with "Puppy Bowl" in a unique way and now look forward to making it part of their Super Bowl festivities every year, and we do our best to keep it fresh and entertaining," says Maureen Smith, Animal Planet vice president and general manager.

The special informs viewers about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and the need for adoption of homeless pets. During this year's "Puppy Bowl," the network encourages viewers to go to their sister service, Petfinder.com, to "look for a new furry family member."

____________________

Molly Hermann: Thanks for asking me Rocci - looking forward to chatting about Puppy Bowl, the "other big game" which airs this Sunday.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: I love the Puppy Bowl! How did you guys ever even think of this idea? Was it hard to get the powers-that-be to approve it?

Molly Hermann: Actually the idea came from Animal Planet - I was in one of the original brainstorming meetings and we all thought it would end up being like "yule log" where you'd just watch puppies, puppies, puppies for three hours - but it's ended up having a lot of personality and new elements like this year's Tailgate Party keep it exciting.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Who watches the Puppy Bowl, just animal lovers? And do people switch back from the Super Bowl to you guys?

Molly Hermann: I do think people switch back and forth - which was what everyone expected, but I've been reading blogs where people know all of the names of last year's puppies and have obviously watched the entire show!

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: What a nice surprise to find you taking questions. My herd of three cats and I love the P.B. but especially the Kitty Half-Time special. Are the kittens also rescues? And this may be an insane question, but have you every considered a live human audience for the P.B.? Or would the puppies be overwhelmed. Thanks again.

Molly Hermann: We have A LOT of humans on set - so there is sort of a live audience! The kittens are all from a shelter - this year from the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington DC.

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: I love the puppies that are featured. Can you tell me more about how to adopt one?

Molly Hermann: You should check out the Puppy Bowl III part of the Animal Planet Web site - they have links to local shelters and Petfinder.com which connects people with pets nationally. It's a pretty simple process that usually includes a home visit. There are so many animals - puppies AND dogs- out there that need homes!

_______________________

Indianapolis, Ind.: Too bad there's no scent involved in "Puppy Bowl" or my dog could enjoy it with me. She's pretty blase about the whole thing as it stands now.

Molly Hermann: ha ha - there's an idea for next year!

_______________________

College Park, Md.: Hi Molly,

I'm so excited to watch this year -- I tune in every year. Can you tell what will be new this Puppy Bowl? I can't wait to turn to Animal Planet this Sunday for the real action!

Molly Hermann: This year's show has been totally revamped - we've designed a fantastic new stadium set and added a hilarious new feature called the Tailgate Party where doggie fans that couldn't get tickets to the game are watching the action on a TV set in the parking lot....and grilling burgers...and sitting in lawn chairs...and reacting to big plays and calls they disagree with.

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Petfinder.com

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: My friends adopted one of the puppies from the second Puppy Bowl. She's a joy!

Molly Hermann: That's great to hear! I really didn't have a full understanding of the magnitude of the pet over-population crisis before working on this show - I hope that it will inspire a lot of people to consider adoption.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: How long is the Puppy Bowl on? When is the "kickoff"?

Molly Hermann: Puppy Bowl is a three hour show - it premieres this Sunday at 3 p.m. and repeats three times (6 p.m. and p.m.)

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: How do the puppies get chosen? Is there going to be a kitten half-time show this year?

Molly Hermann: The puppies are cast based on availability, breed and age - of course we want them to be young so they are puppy-ish, bur they need to be old enough to have had all of their shots and mature enough not to be intimidated by the other "players" on the "field."

_______________________

Annapolis, Md.: Are there actual game rules the pups have to follow or is it just a free-for-all on the marked field? Is there any attempt to actually do moves like humans would?

Molly Hermann: It's sort of the reverse - we let them do what they do naturally and then apply human football terms to the action!

_______________________

Chicago Ill.: I love Puppy Bowl! For the second year in a row, we're having one TV tuned to the Super Bowl and the other TV to Puppy Bowl for our party. Last year your program got the small set; we might switch that around this year, especially if the game doesn't go well.

And thanks for keeping it simple. Do you have to fight off pressure to clutter the show with ever more bells and whistles?

Molly Hermann: I think the simplicity is really what makes it work - we can add fun new elements like Tailgate, but when it comes down to it most of the screen time will always be puppies playing.

_______________________

DCTC: Should we be expecting any wardrobe malfunctions in this year's Puppy Bowl? Is there as much hype about Puppy Bowl advertisements as there is in that other game?

Molly Hermann: Thankfully no puppy wardrobe, so no fear of wardrobe malfunctions! We do call "fouls" when we have to clean up puppy messes though - and our referee has by far the dirtiest job in professional sports.

_______________________

McLean, Va.: At first my husband and I thought P.B. was silly, but then we really started to enjoy it. Sort of like a Warhol movie. Anyway, an obvious question. Is this a live feed, or do you do some editing to prevent filming puppies doing some of the less attractive things puppies tend to do?

Molly Hermann: It's not a live feed - we shoot Puppy Bowl in two days and then edit all of the best material together - with an emphasis on high energy playing over puppies getting to know each other (if you know what I mean). We have a rep from the American Humane Associate on set who helps look out for dogs getting tired or overwhelmed, so we also have to edit out some of the breaks we take to rest or trade out tired dogs.

_______________________

Carlisle, Pa.: I hear the voice of NFL Films, Harry Kalas, is the narrator. What's he like to work with?

Molly Hermann: Hi Carlisle (I went to Dickinson) - Harry Kalas was great to work with and did almost everything in one take. I just had to make triple sure all of my football language was correct before I sent him the script!

_______________________

New York, N.Y.: Will the puppies ever wear team uniforms?

Molly Hermann: That would be funny - but the puppies are so adorable we wouldn't want to cover them up!

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Puppy Bowl

_______________________

Reston, Va.: Have to know, as a producer myself, what was your favorite part about being involved in this show? Any hysterical moments?

Molly Hermann: I think the best part was just all the puppies - it's hard to be stressed out if everyone is carrying a puppy around on a shoot!

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: What are some of the names of the players?

And tell us about the Kitty Half-Time event. What happens with that?

Molly Hermann: We had a litter of terrier mix puppies whose names all started with "Q" (Quesadilla, Quarterback, Quencher...) and we had three identical looking Samoyeds named Buster, Bomber and Buffy. A French Bulldog named Milo, an English Bulldog named Gypsy, two lab mixes named Chubby and Checkers and a wild German Shephard mix named Lucy.

Kitty Half-time is sort of a disco party with kittens...

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: What's it like to manage all those pups?

Was it pandemonium on the set? You mentioned your "script." Did you write and plan out this special? If so, can you explain a little further.

Molly Hermann: No, it wasn't really pandemonium - probably because the human/puppy ratio was pretty high and we prepare for them with a room carpeted with plastic sheeting, doggie pens, treats and handlers who walk them during the day when they are offstage. T

he show is structured a bit - for instance we introduce five dogs at a time at the top of the first four acts in the "Pedigree Starting Line-up" and there are other elements that highlight special plays of the game.

_______________________

McLean, Va.: Does CBS feel threatened? Will the "Puppy Bowl" become another "American Idol" and stomp all competition in sight?

Molly Hermann: I doubt the broadcasters of the Super Bowl would feel threatened by Puppy Bowl - but I do think it's another fun element that adds to the parties and excitement of that day. I know a lot of people who keep two TV's on...

_______________________

Burtonsville, Md.: How is Puppy Bowl scored? Are there teams? Do all the puppies featured in the show get adopted shortly thereafter because they are celebrities? Does Angelina Jolie come and scoop them all up like Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmations?

Molly Hermann: Puppy Bowl isn't scored - but you can certainly root for your favorite dog! It's funny how much of what puppies normally do sort of looks like football - tackling and chasing each other around.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I absolutely adore the Puppy Bowl, and especially the Kitty Half-Time. My cats are both WARL rescues, and they enjoy watching, too. Thanks for such a fun show!

Molly Hermann: Thanks for supporting WARL - I've really been impressed with their dedication and passion for solving pet overpopulation and treating animals humanely.

_______________________

Westbury, Conn.: What do you anticipate the ratings will be this "season"?

Molly Hermann: If the past two shows are a guide to go by, the ratings should be really good!

_______________________

Baltimore, Md.: Do dogs and cats at home really watch and can they watch, is that possible and true, as some people allege?

Molly Hermann: I don't know - maybe I should try it on my cats, though they'd probably prefer "bird bowl". Animal Planet sells Puppy Bowl on DVD and I have heard of people leaving it running at home to keep their pets company.

_______________________

Culpeper, Va.: Does the show break for commercials? And if it has commercials, are there any specially made for your show as they are for the big Super Bowl?

Molly Hermann: The show does break for commercials - I'm not aware of any commercials being specifically made for Puppy Bowl but I would guess it's considered a prime ad spot!

_______________________

Takoma Park, Md.: The tailgate party sounds awesome. And thanks for replaying it so many times -- I wind up keeping my TV on Animal Planet most of the day.

Molly Hermann: Glad you are a fan! I've looked at the show too many times at this point, but when I show Tailgate to new people they always laugh!

_______________________

What is this?: So what is the Puppy Bowl? Do they actually play in some uber cute quasi football game?

Molly Hermann: Puppy Bowl is 35 puppies playing in a pup-sized football stadium, a Kitty Half-time show and reactions from fans at the Tailgate party - this Sunday starting at 3 and playing all day on Animal Planet.

Thank you guys so much for your questions! Have fun watching...

_______________________

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company