Glen Zipper, creator-executive producer of the Netflix documentary series “Dogs”

Glen Zipper—the creator and executive producer of  “Dogs,” the Netflix six-part documentary series (and whose resume includes producing the Oscar-winning doc “Undefeated”)—recalls growing up in an animal-free household, pets having been declared verboten by his father. Zipper also recounts his transformation into a dog guy: He was living in New Jersey, working as a criminal prosecutor, feeling restless and unfulfilled, when he adopted a neglected neighborhood dog, Anthony, after learning he was on the verge of being euthanized; this was in 2003, Zipper almost immediately quit his job, started volunteering at the shelter from which he’d plucked Anthony, helping others adopt dogs there. Tracing his pre-“Dogs” (but dog-oriented) career path, Zipper explains that he and Anthony—still a team now, in 2018–relocated to Los Angeles, where, after a detour working at an organization that pairs kids in continuation school with dogs (are we starting to detect a running theme?), he launched his producing career. He goes on to describe how “Dogs” came together: He partnered with fellow Academy Award winner, Amy Berg, they hired folks to cast a wide, global net of potential canine tales to tell–at one point, he says, there were 50 story ideas that were winnowed down to the final six, employing criteria that included the core element of these films addressing the human/dog bond, as well as “diversity,” achieved by telling different stories, expressing different points of view, and reflecting different international locales.  The upshot is that the “Dogs” films are set in Berlin, Costa Rica, Italy, Syria, Tokyo and the U.S., and while some might figure that a six-part doc series about dogs would likely feature episodes about adoption and service dogs—good guess—the subjects of the other four installments defy prediction. [As we did in the interview, we’re trying to largely avoid spoilers here…but because there’s a lot of chatter online about being moved to tears by “Dogs,” we hasten to note that no dog or person dies, and there’s no cruelty. As well as all kinds of special canines, the series does feature some truly extraordinary people, projecting notable soul and humanity.]  Zipper acknowledges his favorite dog of the series is Max, a key presence in the film that’s set in Costa Rica (my fave is Ice…or Zeus…or…), and touches on his large and eclectic slate of other projects he’s producing; it’s safe to say that Mike Judge, Pauline Kael, and Muhammad Ali probably wouldn’t otherwise occupy the same group. (https://www.netflix.com/title/80191036)

ALSO: I spoke with Hunter Miller, of Oceana, about the organization’s campaign to end the sale and trade of shark fins in the U.S.—specifically, its efforts on behalf of The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, a bipartisan bill that Miller says has 260 co-sponsors in the House. There are high hopes the bill passes before this current session of Congress ends, and Miller urges folks to contact their representatives (via www.oceana.org/FinBanNow or calling their offices) in support of it. (https://oceana.org)

 

 

 

 

COMEDY CORNER:  Robert Schimmel’s “Punching A Shark In The Nose”

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” The Bottle Rockets’ “Dog,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Ukulele Chords’ version of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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