Disney Put on the Dog for the World Premier of “”102 Dalmations””

By Julie Lux, editor, goodnewsforpets.com

If there’s one thing the Disney Company knows how to do, it’s how to put on a show-on screen and off. In the case of the premiere of “”102 Dalmatians”” on November 13, 2000 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, no “”bone”” was left unturned to launch the sequel to the 1996 hit “”101 Dalmatians”” in a big way.

Celebrities including John Ritter, Robert Pastorelli of Murphy Brown fame and Harry Connick, Jr. joined Disney executives and the film’s producers, cast and crew to strut down not a red carpet but, what else, a carpet in white with black spots. Glenn Close, reprising her role as (at least to Dalmatian lovers) the most hated villain of all time, Cruella DeVil, was attired in the appropriate black and white (black Georgio Armani jacket and white pants) and carried a purse with a Cruella and Dalmatians design made of sequins. I must admit that I didn’t recognize the two new stars of the movie, Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans, when they arrived at the theater. Both are rising stars in England and, in Evans’ case, France, with little U.S. exposure until now. But, it was the canine stars and their feathered co-star who attracted the most attention when they made their way into the theater. (The adult dogs only!)

Attendees were treated to a sneak preview of the Radio City Christmas Show complete with a number by the famed Rockettes. Santa was on hand to introduce the movie and he got in the spotted spirit with Dal spots on the fur trim of his hat.

This movie could be titled “”102 Dalmatians: The Next Generation”” because Pongo and Perdita have made way for their son, Dipstick, introduced as a puppy in the 1996 film, and the mother of his puppies, Dottie. Of course, there must be puppies, but only three play majors roles (and most of the rest are computer-generated). Dalmatian purists will most likely gasp at the Dal with the biggest part, the all-white puppy known as Oddball. So let’s set the record straight right now: there is no such thing as an all white “”Dalmatian”” (even Oddball) so don’t go looking for one and for heaven’s sake please don’t even think about trying to breed one. (And, unlike the posters at a certain fast food chain, Oddball in the movie does not have blue eyes.)

A shelter for abandoned animals provides one of the central plot points in the movie and gives other breeds, and species, a chance in the spotlight. Eric Idle provides the voice of Waddles worth the Macaw who thinks he’s a Rottweiler.

Okay, here it comes-I enjoyed the movie. In fact, I liked it better than the last one. There is plenty of the slapstick humor required to keep the attention of younger movie fans. (The young man sitting next to me thoroughly enjoyed the movie, which added to my enjoyment.) But, there is a nice love story and the animals are delightful and again play an important role in the resolution of the action. Yes, much of it is predictable, but I want to know that there will be a happy ending so I don’t have to spend the entire movie worrying about what’s going to happen to the dogs.

For those of us who love Dalmatians and are concerned that another highly-publicized movie will have people clamoring for puppies this Christmas-and taking them to shelters, or worse, six months later-the release of this newest Dalmatian invasion is not entirely a cause for celebration. As Public Relations Officer for the Dalmatian Club of America (DCA), my colleagues and I have been through this before. Four years ago, the release of the first live-action remake of Dodie Smith’s classic story, turned the media spotlight on Dalmatians in a big way.

This time out, Disney has taken some steps to help stem the tide of Dal-mania with a statement at the end of the film and other activities. (See related story in this issue of goodnewsforpets.com.) Hopefully, those steps and the public education available through the DCA, American Kennel Club and other organizations will help people make an informed decision about pet ownership.

Following the premiere movie, cast, crew and guests received spotted mufflers when they arrived at the site of the premiere party, the Rockefeller Center Skating Rink and surrounding restaurants. Young and old had their choice of activities including decorating bone-shaped cookies, dressing up in Cruella-inspired fashions for a “”photo op””, playing Dalmatian video games or taking a turn on the ice. Those who didn’t fill up on popcorn could choose from a menu of kid-friendly fare like chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs plus a dessert table featuring ice cream, brownies and strawberries dipped in white chocolate and dotted with dark chocolate.

The movie opens nationwide on November 22 and if you want my opinion – go see the movie — just don’t rush out and buy a puppy (unless it’s a stuffed one).

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