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No more dog days in Hollywood

by David Rosenfelt

My wife and I have rescued over 4,000 dogs. It’s been remarkably rewarding on many levels; to watch a dog that was going to be put down in a shelter instead head off to a great home… well, that’s as good as it gets.

But dog rescue did something else for me; it saved me from Hollywood. And perhaps just as important, it saved Hollywood from me.

I was very possibly the least successful marketing person in the history of the motion picture business. In my career as an executive with MGM/UA and as President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures, I probably buried more movies than anyone before or after me. And I wasn’t bringing down hacks and nobodies; I was sandbagging the likes of Hanks (Volunteers, Every Time We Say Goodbye), Schwarzenegger (The Running Man, Red Heat), Willis (Blind Date, Sunset), and Coppola (Gardens of Stone). George Lucas and Jim Henson collaborated on Labyrinth, a film that sank under my marketing weight.

When Sony bought Tri-Star and was moving us to California, I opted not to move, and to leave the business. It’s fair to say that there were no actors, producers or directors hanging on to my ankles, begging me to reconsider.

But when you leave something that you’ve done for twenty years, it leaves a void, and movie marketing might leave a bigger void than a lot of professions. That’s because the process is all consuming; you immerse yourself in minutiae, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of it is meaningless to the ultimate success or failure of the film. But it is the film, or at least the selling of it, that takes up every drop of air in every room.

So when I left to become a writer, I needed something else to occupy all this time I suddenly had. Around that time, my wife and I lost our wonderful golden retriever, Tara, to cancer, and since she wasn’t ready to get another dog, we started volunteering in the L.A. County Animal Shelters. I do not recommend it for the faint of heart.

It quickly became unbearable to watch so many wonderful dogs be put down for lack of willing adopters, so we started the Tara Foundation, through which we rescued the 4,000 dogs. When a dog that we rescued was too old, or blind, or epileptic … anything that would prevent it from being wanted and adopted … they came home as our pet.

surrounded by dogs

Photos courtesy of David Rosenfelt

In the years since, we’ve never had less than 20 dogs in our home. We’ve been up to 42, but anything over 40 seems somehow eccentric. They are everywhere, and since they are seniors and sleep most of the day, our house looks like a Civil War battlefield … eerily quiet with bodies everywhere.

Believe me when I say that running a two person dog rescue operation is a daunting task. But it is the definition of fulfilling, and between that and writing my novels, I’ve certainly never had the time nor the inclination to look in the rear view mirror at Hollywood.Dogtripping book

Of course, I literally had the opportunity to do that, when we moved our 25 dogs in 3 RV’s from California to our new home in Maine. I wrote about it in a recently released, non-fiction book called Dogtripping.

It was a hilarious, ridiculous, exhausting trip, and I am not about to repeat it. Which means I’m not coming back to California and the movie business.

I think Hollywood will be OK with that.

dogs and Rvs

David Rosenfelt

About David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt, a New Jersey native now living in Maine, is the author of seventeen books, eleven of which feature lawyer and sleuth Andy Carpenter. After a twenty year career in motion picture marketing, he and his wife began the Tara Foundation to help find homes for unwanted dogs. The foundation has rescued over 4000 dogs from shelters. For more information about David Rosenfelt, visit

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