Is the controversy surrounding “A Dog’s Purpose” the latest example of fake news? Or something else?
The new film has come under fire from animal rights group PETA after a video TMZ leaked purported to show abuse taking place behind the scenes.
In the video, a German Shepherd is seen refusing to enter a pool of swiftly moving water. The animal trainer is shown dipping the dog into the water and pulling him back out. The video then cuts to footage of the dog being swept along the current and going under water when he reaches the end wall of the pool.
The viewer is left wondering if the dog survived. PETA almost immediately called for a boycott of the film.
The film’s producer, Gavin Polone, used social media over the weekend to defend the film. He said he had seen the footage of the entire day of filming presented in the video. The sequences shown were edited, and the dog in question, Hercules, was indeed happy and healthy after the scene was completed.
This week, Polone also took to The Hollywood Reporter to tell his side of what really happened on the day in question.
FAST FACT: An online petition ginning up support for a “Dog’s Purpose” boycott drew nearly 15,000 signatures in just a few hours.
While Polone admits that some mistakes were made on that day, he rightly refers to the PETA response to the story as “fake news.”
The film’s writer, W. Bruce Cameron, also contends the video “mischaracterizes” the events that day.
Polone contacted a senior vice president with the activist group after they became involved and was told “the group isn’t in favor of better protection for animals on sets but rather ’to remove them entirely’” and that he should “never use any animals in movies or television again.”
That’s right, PETA’s goal is to stop the use of any animals in film and television, believing they should all be computer generated.
But is his film being targeted, or is Polone?
Last August, leading up to November’s presidential election, Polone published an article in the Hollywood reporter titled “Sorry, Hollywood, I Can’t Be Shamed Into Voting for Hillary Clinton.” In the article, he explains that he can’t bring himself to vote for either Hillary or Donald Trump stating “to me, both Trump and Clinton are bad people” and for people to consider voting third party.
Did daring to speak out publicly against the Democratic Presidential candidate, in a town and industry dominated by liberals, paint a target on Polone?
As any conservative actor can tell you, while Hollywood liberals laud diversity, the one thing they will not tolerate is diversity of thought. You either agree with their political views, or you don’t deserve to be in their club. I’m a conservative actor, and I’ve experienced such discrimination firsthand. But that’s another story for another day.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have worked with Polone when I was a set production assistant intern on his film “Drop Dead Gorgeous.” And while I’m sure he has no memory of sitting outside of the hospital set discussing “The Simpsons,” I have followed his career ever since.
I follow the careers of everyone I work with, as long as they are good people. It’s hard to dispute that Polone is a good person who loves animals. Only a true animal lover would will his entire estate to animal charities when they die, as Polone has. A true animal lover would not euthanize 80 percent of the animals in their shelter, as PETA has.
“A Dog’s Purpose,” starring Dennis Quaid and featuring the voice of Josh Gad, will be released in theaters Jan. 27.
Kregg Janke is an actor, writer and producer. He can be seen starring in the feature film “Coming Home,” due to be released June 2.