Animal Planet Movie Hercules Saves Christmas to Premiere
He just might be the most famous dog in America, thanks to his role on the hit Animal Planet series "Pit Boss." Now, the loveable pit bull Hercules, who accompanies the show's star, Shorty Rossi, on real-life, dog-saving adventures, stars in his own movie, "Hercules Saves Christmas," as a talking pooch who helps a down-on-his-luck kid find holiday happiness. The dog's voice is provided by Rossi, who does double duty as a compassionate, albeit unconventional priest.
The independent feature, originally titled "Santa's Dog," will have its world premiere November 17 at the historic Orinda Theatre in Orinda, California, where several scenes were shot. Special screenings will then be held in select cities, before the film has its broadcast premiere on Animal Planet after Thanksgiving.
"This is a film about how good triumphs over evil, and how we should strive to keep the spirit of Christmas alive year-round," said producer Leonard Pirkle. "I hope people will make it a part of their holiday routine every year."
In the film, a 12-year-old orphan named Max Moogle (Anthony Robinson) is depressed, after several adoptive parents have returned him to the orphanage where he has lived far longer than he would have wished. Two days before Christmas, a twist of fate brings Max together with a special dog who guides him on a magical, life-changing journey.
In addition to Rossi, "Hercules Saves Christmas" co-stars Kathy Garver ("Family Affair"), Mackenzie Phillips ("One Day at a Time"), Marc McClure (("Freaky Friday"), Arturo Gil ("Spaceballs"), Danny Arroyo ("Saints & Sinners"), George Maguire ("The Pursuit of Happyness"), Brad Williams ("Jimmy Kimmel Live"), Richard Van Fleet ("All My Children"), Dana Woods ("Sid the Science Kid"), Maggie VandenBerghe ("Aliens in the Attic") and Ronald Lee Clark ("Epic Movie").
"This movie was such a delight to create and I'm sure it will be equally delightful to watch," said Garver, who plays "Sister Augustus," a nun who runs the orphanage where Max resides. "It's a wonderful story with tons of humor plus heartfelt enjoyment. It's entertainment that families can enjoy together."
Garver, who is best-known for her role as "Cissy" on the classic CBS sitcom "Family Affair," has appeared in many TV series and movies, including "The Ten Commandments," "New Love American Style," ‘Matlock" and more. She said that "Santa's Dog" was one of the most enjoyable projects in which she has been involved, and surprising in many ways.
"Hercules was a real pussycat, although he probably would not appreciate me calling him that," Garver laughed. "Shorty was also terrific to work with. He is very attentive to detail, and he was very believable as a priest."
Rossi has appeared in other movies, TV series and live theatrical productions, and runs Shortywood Productions, a talent agency that represents little people in Hollywood. Several of his clients and costars from "Pit Boss" are in "Hercules Saves Christmas."
"Hercules Saves Christmas" was directed by Edward Hightower, who also has a cameo role as a detective. The film was produced by Shortywood Productions in association with Zemrak/Pirkle Productions, LLC, a San Francisco Bay Area company owned by writer/producer Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle, an attorney, writer and producer.
"I am very proud of this film," Pirkle said. "It is funny, charming, full of hope, and even has a few moments that will cause a grown man to tear up."
The world premiere will take place on November 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Orinda Theatre, 2 Orinda Theatre Square, Orinda, California 94563. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at www.lamorindatheatres.com. Reservations are recommended.
"Hercules Saves Christmas" will air on Animal Planet at various dates and times in late November and December. Check TV listings for details or visit www.animalplanet.com. For more information about the film, visit www.herculessaveschristmas.com.