There's an old show-biz saw that says don't work with kids or animals. Good advice. Look at Paul Mazursky's "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." At an advance screening Tuesday at Disney studios, the audience praised stars Richard Dreyfuss, Bette Midler and Nick Nolte--but the big kudos and many of the biggest laughs went to a lovable and neurotic black-and-white Scottish Border Collie called Matisse (real name Mike).
The honchos at Disney obviously felt the same way. They frantically tried to nail-down Mike for a long-term contract. "We were in very serious negotiations for a couple of weeks there, but in the end we couldn't come to terms," said one frustrated Disney executive. "He's holding out until the picture opens because he thinks he can get more in a free market."
According to Mike's manager, animal trainer Clint Rowe from Acton, Calif., the studio offered Mike $3,000 for what's called a "right of first refusal deal" to retain the dog's services for 18 months.
But when Rowe came back with a higher counter-offer, Disney balked. "My manager told me the studio decided not to go ahead," Rowe said. "They said they could go out and get any dog. That really hurt, but I guess that's the business."