Showbiz is for the Dogs - March 18th - 2007

Showbiz is for the DogsSunday, 18th March
When I was trying to get into showbizness I was pretty much just a lowly college student. My family didn’t know anybody in the industry, and I wasn’t connected in any way. I was also debating whether I wanted to be a TV writer. You can imagine my excitement when I found out that I was selected to be the writers’ intern on the television sitcom ‘Spin City.’

At the time, Spin City was a hit television show on ABC and was, in fact, the only sitcom to tape in New York. I was very lucky.

It starred Michael J. Fox, from one of my favorite movies “Back to The Future,” Heather Locklear and a bunch of other really funny actors.

I had a few college internships so I knew what to expect.

I did everything from grocery shopping for the writers, making copies of scripts and taking lunch orders. In return, the writers were super cool to me. They let me sit in on meetings and would include me in foosball games and whatever else was going on in the office.

There was no way I was going to mess this up. That is until one day, I was on set and I met one of the actors, Richard Kind. He played the goofball guy on the show and didn’t seem a lot different in real life. He’s been in a bunch of stuff, and I guess you can Google him if need be.

Anyway, I was on set one day and he had his dog with him -- Gratzi. It was a small dog, kind of like a terrier or something. I guess the dog was in-between the puppy and adult phase. Even though it was on a leash, it was pretty hyper and ran little circles around Richard.

“Hey!” Richard called out to me.
“You work with the writers right?” he asked.


“You like dogs?”

In truth, I am very indifferent to dogs. I like smart dogs that are intelligent, but I can’t stand dogs that run around mindlessly.

“Uh, sure.”

“Here!” he put Gratzi’s leash into my hands. “How bout you take Gratzi out for a stroll.”

“Ummmm.” I think Gratzi could feel the change of guard because as soon as the leash was in my hands, he took off with full force almost ripping my arm off.

“Bye!” Richard waved.

So off we went. Gratzi and I, by ourselves in New York. Now ‘Spin City’ taped in Chelsea Piers, which was an open area by the water. There were some docks so I thought that it would be a fine place to walk the dog.

I started running up and down the pier with him. Richard also gave me a tennis ball. We had this game where I throw the ball, it would bounce off Gratzi’ head and then he would chase it down. Pretty stupid game if you ask me.

After about a half hour of this, Gratzi laid down under a bench and closed his eyes. Finally! I looked at my hand which was now turning blue. I had wrapped the leash so tight that it was cutting off all blood circulation to my arm. I thought this was a good opportunity to untangle myself.

I had just slipped the leash off my hand for a split second when Gratzi caught sight of another dog in the distance and took off. I could feel the leash escape from my hands and watched helplessly as Gratzi dragged it across the pavement.

“Gratzi!” Gone. I spent the next hour walking up and down Chelsea Piers yelling out his name. “Gratzi! Gratzi! Gratzi!” Some Italian people by a bench looked at me awkwardly. ‘Gratzi’ means ‘thank-you’ in Italian. I guess I would find it strange if I saw a kid yelling to himself, “thank-you!” “thank-you!” “thank-you!”

I did this for another hour. It was getting dark, and I had three missed calls on my cell phone from my supervisor who was probably wondering where the hell I was. I thought I was going to cry. Actually, I wasn’t but I was certainly trying. I took an acting class and thought if I could get myself to cry, then maybe Richard would feel bad and not strangle me.

I headed back to Pier 12 building (it kind of resembled a large airport hangar) where ‘Spin City’ taped. As I walked to the set I could hear a faint bark from inside. I opened the door and there was Gratzi playing with one of the production assistants.

I ran to them, waving my arms enthusiastically. “Where’d you find him?”

“Outside. Hanging out. Are you supposed to be watching him?”

Take note, there were 24 piers, which means 24 warehouses. For Gratzi to go back to the one where ‘Spin City’ taped was just incredible. I guess Gratzi wasn’t as dumb as he looked.

She put the leash into my hand and I walked to Richard’s dressing room. He opened the door and gave Gratzi a big hug.

“That was certainly a long walk!”

“Wait don’t go anywhere. I want to give you something!”

I thought he was going to give me 20 bucks for my troubles but instead he gave me a script to bring back upstairs to the writers.


That was the first of many memorable experiences at ‘Spin City.’ I would go on to walk Richard Kind’s dog a bunch of other times throughout the year. To be honest, I don’t think he even knew my name aside from ‘the kid that walks my dog’ but he always managed to find me and seemed somewhat grateful.

One day soon, when I fulfill all my dreams, I’m going to hire Richard Kind. And you can certainly bet that he’ll be walking my dog. Woof-woof.

Tarun ShettyComment