Brandon Tartikoff, President of NBC-TV, was addressing the network's station affiliates recently when he was interrupted by the arrival of the star of "Here's Boomer." The popular actor made his way to center stage and presented Tartikoff with a letter the full text of which follows:
Dear Mr. Tartikoff - Now that you've settled with Johnny Carson, it's time you took care of your second biggest star. With my Pick-up for next season, I want the following guarantees written into my contract:
- Total script approval on all episodes.
- My own Winnebago - equipped with a dressing room with windows.
- A movie of the week for my own prod'n Co. We want to do a remake of "in the Heat of the Night."
- A stunt double for all dangerous tricks and for local market promotional tours.
- A green rubber mouse with the squeaky thing removed.
Listen, Tartikoff. I'm not the first dog you put into that time period - but at least I didn't roll over and play dead three weeks in.
I'm going to sit here now
- until you agree to all of my bones of contention.
Of course, the lovable vagabond pooch isn't really that demanding. He's an affectionate, floppy-eared mutt who's four years old, stands 18 inches high and weighs in at about 45 pounds.
His trainer, Ray Berwick, vividly remembers the day he found Boomer at the Los Angeles dog pound: "I was looking through a group of cages and there he was. At first he was suspicious of me, but eventually, he came up to say hello. Never once did he beg me to save him from death, even though he probably knew what his next stop was. He had lots of dignity and class."
To Berwick, training Boomer was a natural. "He was extremely bright and quick to grasp a command or suggestion. He never quits on me. Some dogs give up when the going gets rough in a training session. But Boomer easily took to my hand signals and word repititions.. the two key elements in training an animal."
After his training, Boomer was hired by Universal Studios and has since acquired several TV credits, including appearances on "Baretta" and "Starsky and Hutch."
When not on the net or parading across the stage with a list of 'demands,' home for Boomer is with Berwick.
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Spartanburg Harald Journal - ?
NEW YORK (UPI) - With his napkin tucked neatly beneath his chin, the star sat straight in his chair and turned his attention to the coffee and Danish hotel room service had been kind enough to bring him for breakfast - and it was all an act.
Boomer - a shaggy dog of uncertain ancestry and cosmic IQ who earns about $3,500 a week when he is working - is fond of Danish when he can get it, but he doesn't drink coffee.
Acting is his business simply because his best friend, Ray Berwick, wants it that way.
Berwick, who trained all those killer seagulls for Alfred Hitchcock's classic terror film, "The Birds," and who would have seeing-eye parrots helping the blind right now if the establshment would allow it, is a perfect partner as far as Boomer is concerned.
"I felt myself sinking in some time ago," Berwick said of the pup he found three years ago on death row in a California animal shelter. "I had determined not to fall in love with another dog. It happens so often in my business. You have animals in the motion picture business and you outlive them and it hurts so bad when they do leave."
Berwick never really had a chance with Boomer. The great brown eyes would melt steel. There was nothing to do but make him a star.
"He went with me every place," said Berwick of his first association with the
mutt who was soon to hit the top of the ratings for NBC in "Here's Boomer," then go on to Hollywood. "He was in the car with me constantly. We traveled together. We talked together and we got to know each other. I found him to be a very remarkable dog.
"He is loving and sincere and honest, which is a factor, actually, with dogs as well as with people. They have streaks of honesty and dishonesty. He is the kind that always comes through. He never tries to undercut you or outsmart you, although he very well could ... But he loves to please."
To prove his point, Berwick called Boomer to attention and, like a Marine drill instructor, ran him through a complicated routine made all the more remarkable by the fact that he stood where the dog could not see the hand signals upon which most trainers rely.
"Sit up," said Berwick, and Boomer sat.
"Wave." Boomer waved one paw.
"Cover your eyes," Berwick commanded, and both paws came into play, covering the big brown eyes in the gesture so adored by fans of Lassie and other canine heart-throbs.
"Crawl," said Berwick. Boomer dropped to his belly and scuttled across the carpet.
"Stand up," said Berwick, aiming his finger and cocking a thumb. "I'm gonna shoot you. Bang!"
Boomer's head flew back in a melodramatic
gesture. His paws flew to his chest. Tongue lolling, he collapsed.
Boomer, Berwick said, is one of the rare dogs who can be relied upon to obey verbal commands - a plus for film directors who like to be able to shoot a scene without having to position the camera so that the trainer is in the animal's direct view.
The skill landed Boomer his own television series and an air-conditioned motor home with chauffeur and all the amenities of stardom - but it cost him a change of name.
Boomer wasn't always Boomer. When Berwick rescued him from the pound, he christened him Johnny, but the idea of a dog show on NBC titled "Here's Johnny" at a time when NBC and Johnny Carson weren't exactly seeing eye to eye was not deemed a good idea.
Boomer has just finished shooting a new feature film titled "Kiss Me Again," in which he costars with Sally Field and James Caan, and under Berwick's management, he soon will have another syndicated television series.
"He's going to start making the pilot," said Berwick. "Right now it's called 'Fuzzy and the DC' - DC meaning the dog catcher. It's sort of a humanized description of the 'Coyote and the Roadrunner' and I think it will be cute ... It's not of the Disney vintage - not a milk and cookies sort of thing - but something directed more toward real life in an honest, wholesome way."
Times Daily - May 14, 1982