The logo

dedicated to the films of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin

Up left arrow
Chat Transcript

Bill Langworthy, August 28, 2003

Bill Langworthy started his career with amazing animals as a segment producer for David Lettermen's Stupid Pet Tricks. Now, as a producer for the Animal Planet's hit Pet Star, Bill has traveled the country looking for the best of the best in talented pets to compete for a grand prize of $25,000. Bill was with us to answer questions on how to get on Pet Stars, what tricks they are looking for, where to audition, how to get your dog into showbiz, and more.

You have joined the audience.
Bill Langworthy is on the stage.
Moderator: Welcome to the live chat with Bill Langworthy. Bill will be with us in a few minutes. You can go ahead and ask your questions in advance and we'll post them to Bill when he arrives.
Moderator: Bill has now arrived! Thank you for joining us for this chat. There are several questions already submitted that we'll get to. Welcome Bill.
k9 frisbee: hi bill
Bill Langworthy: hi
k9 frisbee: i would like to know when and where to send tapes of my dogs tricks, i have a very talented border collie that prefroms all types of frisbee tricks
Bill Langworthy: That's great. We love border colliles on the show and, as you've probably seen, we've had a lot of frisbee dogs.
Bill Langworthy: You can send all your tapes directly to me at
Bill Langworthy: Bill Langworthy
Bill Langworthy: Pet Star
Bill Langworthy: PO Box 2900
Bill Langworthy left the stage.
Moderator: Stand by....
Bill Langworthy is on the stage.
Bill Langworthy: Sorry
Bill Langworthy: Again, that address is Bill Langworthy, Pet Star, PO Box 2900 Toluca Lake, CA 91610
Auric: Welcome back, Bill. :)
k9 frisbee: thank you
Tre: Why are there so many dogs on Pet Star?
Bill Langworthy: Dogs are the most abundant for one
Bill Langworthy: Also, dogs are the most obedient and the most eager to please
Bill Langworthy: Interestingly, most of the other animals in the same intelligence level as dogs are aquatic: sea lions, dolphins, etc. much harder to have on
Bill Langworthy: The last show we taped had five non-dog acts and only four dogs
Tre: Like the lobster?
Bill Langworthy: The lobster wasn't an exceptionally smart pet, but yet
savage: My German shephard does tricks, extremely smart, and is very good in front of the camera. On her own she poses for the camera with many different positions. She does this on her own. Get on a stool and posses. Lifts one leg up on the stool and posses
savage: etc.
savage: What qualification or specific attributes would you look for in a German Shephard female
Bill Langworthy: That's the kind of thing that will work for a lot of shows, but might not be quite right for us
Bill Langworthy: We tend to favor acts that have a lot of action and have a beginning, middle, and end
Bill Langworthy: I'd like to offer a bit of advice to frisbee dog people: we're always trying to separate the acts from one another. If you have something to do with frisbees that not a lot of other people do, try to make that stand out.
Bill Langworthy: It's easier for me to sell a frisbee dog to the network if it has a signature trick
sushimom: I have an adorable sharpei!
sushimom: weve been featrued on animal planet numerous times
sushimom: any suggestions on making it to pet star other than fancy tricks?
sushimom: hard to think of something really clever
sushimom: my sharpie are wonderful in front of the camera...they have been used over th eyears in advertising....we need a big break as our aspiration is to get a movie!!!! LOL
Bill Langworthy: I get that a lot. Surprisingly, I've never been approached by a movie producer looking to put one of our animals in their picture. The only instance I can think of is Air Bud.
Bill Langworthy: I do want to point out that not every trick on the show has to be a winner. We're looking for cute, funny, odd and silly just as much as highly skilled
ShadowPuP: I was not talking of a frisbee routine. Sorry to confuse you. I was talking of a routine of several different tricks put together or done very quickly like 15 tricks in 10 seconds.
Bill Langworthy: That sounds promising. One thing we get stuck on a lot is naming tricks. The audience likes to know what it's going to see before it sees it
Bill Langworthy: Expectation is set, and then met or not met (hopefully, exceeded)
Bill Langworthy: Your act can be that your dog is going to do 15 tricks against a stopwatch, or 20 tricks in 20 seconds, but it's hard for me to sell a dog that does a mess of tricks.
[Screenshot (click to view larger image)]
Bill Langworthy: Something to think about
savage: Could you give us a idea what you mean by beginning to middle and end
Bill Langworthy: It goes back to what I said about meeting expectation or not.
Bill Langworthy: If someone just gets out there and begins doing random, unrelated tricks, the audience doesn't know how to respond. If the trick is, say, dunking a basketball, theyknow when it's over and how to act
ShadowPuP: When Pet Star started I had thought that our pet needed to do just one amazing trick but I have noticed that the pets are now doing routines. Would doing a routine of tricks be acceptable?
Bill Langworthy: We try to chain them together. We wouldn't have a dog come out and do a frisbee routine and then play the piano
Bill Langworthy: We are constantly trying to chain together behaviors. I've learned that people like watching animals do things that people do, so we try to put them in a scenario that mirrors what people do in everyday life
Bill Langworthy: For example, we had a woman who had a dog that could turn off a light, roll up in a blanket, and pray. She did a mess of other things as well, but they were random, so we narrowed it down to that three, changed the order and made it the bedtime dog.
Bill Langworthy: It said its prayers, turned off the light, and rolled up in a blanket
Bill Langworthy: Does that answer your question?
k9 frisbee: are their any specific tricks you look for ?
Bill Langworthy: I would love to have a dog that blows bubbles from a bubble wand. Whispering would be better than barking
Bill Langworthy: I would love to have two dogs, one sitting in front of the other, then have the lead dog flip a biscuit into the air, that the dog in the rear would catch
Bill Langworthy: On Letterman years ago, there was a pit bull that would hang from a change and undulate. The owner put a hula hoop around its waist, and it would keep it up for minutes at a time. The owner's dog is too old now, but he said it's an easy trick to learn.
Bill Langworthy: If you know any pit bull owners out there who'd like to compete for 25,000, have them call me
k9 frisbee: someone on your last show told me that you had seen enough frisbee , is that true
Bill Langworthy: It's hard because we've had so many great frisbee dogs on. The great Lou Mac, Bob Evans, etc.
Bill Langworthy: Like I said before, we're open to frisbee dogs IF they have something that separates them from others that we've had on the show
k9 frisbee: would another act like skid boot be of interest ?
Bill Langworthy: Tough to say. The owner had so much personality and I think it really helped. If that dog hadn't been so great, and the guy hadn't been so great, it could have easily come across like a guy doing a lot of talking while his dog did nothing.
Bill Langworthy: It's all in the execution.
Iron Sushi: Are the Air Bud dogs in the sequels related to the first, late, Air Bud? (I mean family wise)
Bill Langworthy: I'm not sure if they were or not, or if they just bought the rights. Bud's owner had his sperm cryogenically frozen and now has Bud's four puppies
Iron Sushi: have you ever come across a case where the owner was abusive towards the dog, just to get it to perform?
Bill Langworthy: I've never seen that in person, but we've had to turn a few people down on reputation.
Bill Langworthy: All handlers on our show have to sign paperwork at the audition and again on the show that says that they never abuse their pets
Bill Langworthy: I really believe that you can't get the support of the judges and the audience if you don't have a healthy relationship with your pet. If it looks like the pet is scared, hurt, or trying to hard, it won't do well on the show.
Bill Langworthy: We've also had to turn down acts because they were too dangerous for the animals. There's nothing worth risking an animal's safety
Moderator: Just to let everyone know, there's a long queue of questions so if you don't see yours come up right away, we'll get to them all.
Tre: What happens if the animal doesn't perform when he gets on camera?
Bill Langworthy: That happens from time to time, and I'm surprised it doesn't happen more. The animal is in a new place, there are a million new people and animal smells, and they may have just travelled across the country
Bill Langworthy: The truth is, we kind of like it. It maintains the purity and innocence of the show and reminds everyone that, while someone is going to win a lot of money, it's not that serious
Bill Langworthy: We've edited out two or three acts that didn't work but we've left a couple in, too
Iron Sushi: Have you ever seen any dumb, I mean REALLY lame pets out there, that people insist are talented and should be on TV?
Bill Langworthy: My God, yes. Owners can be worst than stage mothers
Bill Langworthy: Someone will go out there with the dumbest trick and then ask me if they're going to be on Oprah, or how many tickets they can have at the finals, or how much of the $25,000 the IRS takes
hogan: Other than sending in a tape what is the process to get on the show
Bill Langworthy: You can either come to an audition (our next one is coming up in L.A. on Sept. 20) or send a tape. Either one works.
Bill Langworthy: We have auditions coming up in Orlando, New Jersey, L.A., and San Francisco
sushimom: I have a wrinkledog that can retrieve and iron......
sushimom: does the staff help you in suggestions?
Bill Langworthy: Sometimes I go into the writers and say, I have a behavior that I really like, now what's the trick?
Bill Langworthy: Do you really have a dog that irons? If you do I'll send you a plane ticket right now.
Bill Langworthy: The process of getting on the show is really a lot easier than most people think
Bill Langworthy: You just have to shoot a simple home video that clearly shows your trick
Bill Langworthy: We take care of everything else.
sushimom: wrinkledog will RETRIEVE an iron! (she doesnt actually iron.......yet.
Bill Langworthy: Your trip is paid for by us. We make all the reservations, pick you up right at the airport, and even give you some spending money while you're in town.
Iron Sushi: what's the most amazing, jaw dropping dog trick you've ever seen?
Bill Langworthy: The hula hooping pit bull was pretty wild. Skidboot was more amazing backstage, because the owner speaks to him in normal English without inflection, and the dog can anything he says.
Bill Langworthy: We just had a 600 lb pig on the show that was like a well-trained dog. You'll see him in the next few weeks. He was fantastic too
sushimom: how about freestyle they do well?
sushimom: we do freestyle also, but the people you ve had on freeestyle, were very advanced.
Bill Langworthy: freestyle is like frisbee: it needs to have something to set it apart from all the other great competitors we've had.
Bill Langworthy: An interesting fact about the freestylers, almost everyone we've had on the show is made it to the finals, almost everyone of them has come in second, but none have won. We'll get one yet, though.
Bill Langworthy: We don't get as many submissions for the show as you would think. If anyone there knows anyone with a great animal, you should definitely have them contact me.
Bill Langworthy: Or, they can email me at with acts that want to get on the show ONLY please.
Bill Langworthy: If someone on this chat refers me to an act or refers an act to me that makes it on the actual show, I'll send them a couple of Pet Star T-shirts
sushimom: what if you can get a cute little blue wrinkledog doing freestyle??
Bill Langworthy: I think the iron act sounds more interesting
Bill Langworthy: I don''t mean to discriminate, but bigger dogs seem to do better with the freestyle. I don't know why that is
ShadowPuP: Would sneezing be a trick you would like?
Bill Langworthy: I'd like to have the owner present the dog with three things that make it sneeze: pepper, a flower, a feather duster, and have it sneeze everytime
Bill Langworthy: Put it on a tape and send it into me.
savage: What about a shephard that does prayers, sings with a piano, get you soda (fridge), opens and closes doors, paints with a brush, plays basketball, puts toys away, and so many things. Flyball dog and agility too. People come to the house to see the dog
Bill Langworthy: Again, it's about putting it into an act that we haven't featured yet. We've had variations on all of those tricks.
Bill Langworthy: How well does he paint? Is it without assistance.
Bill Langworthy: Does anyone know any great acts that I should have on the show? They can be professional or amateur.
Bill Langworthy: Remember, there are T-shirts at stake here.
Bill Langworthy: Does everyone here get the show? I know a lot of people still can't get Animal Planet
savage: To the painting, right now, sits on the chair, has the artist paint brush in her mouth, hits the pallette (with the paint) and then hits the canvass - still perfecting it.
Bill Langworthy: Definitely perfect it and send it into me. Sounds good. It sounds cheesy, but if he could wear a little beret, that could help, but not if it interferes with the trick
veronica: curious, if a trick was done last season...would you repeat it?
Bill Langworthy: Not if it were exactly the same. If it feels different enough to us, and we really like the animal, we'll try to get it back on.
sushimom: julie howard was on one show and was awesome with her border collie, but did not win
sushimom: that took sooooo much training, what julie did
sushimom: thats really interesting, because freestyle takes so much training....alot of work and the dogs must be trained well.
sushimom: I truly thought julie howard should have won that day...her border collie was awesome
sushimom: seems alot of the dogs on are border collies....they are mucheasier to train.'
Bill Langworthy: Thank God for border collies.
Bill Langworthy: They are happy when they work, and they have boundless energy.
Bill Langworthy: I was speaking with an animal behaviorist the other day and she said that they were bred to work, so they were basically bred to augment their A.D.D. gene. If they were people they'd be on medication.
Bill Langworthy: Luckily, dogs can afford to obsess about one thing all day!
Bill Langworthy: Julie Norman was awesome, you are correct
Bill Langworthy: She's in Japan teaching now
sushimom: how many minutes do you get?
Bill Langworthy: It varies. We use 1 minute as a rule. Freestylers have one minute of music to dance to. Some go longer, but we try to keep it fair
Renard8450: How noisy is it in the studio?
Bill Langworthy: Not too bad, and you have a lot of control over it. If you want it silent, you can ask to have the crowd hold applause until the end. If you want to pump up your animal, you can ask for support
Renard8450: Do you worry Pet Star will end up like a lot of a agility shows, with one border collie after another?
Bill Langworthy: No, because we go out of our way to vary the acts. We also have at least three non-dogs on each show, so it will never be all border collies
Iron Sushi: What's the single most unique, non-dog trick you've ever seen?
Bill Langworthy: I saw a monkey ride down a slide on a monkey's back
Bill Langworthy: When I was David Letterman's pet trick coordinator, there was tell of a three-legged dog that danced to a one-legged banjo player
sushimom: Have any of the animals gotten further work from being seen on the show?
Bill Langworthy: Yeah, Skidboot was on Oprah twice
Bill Langworthy: Many of our acts perform around the country. A lot of them have said that they've appeared on Letterman or Leno, but that they've never been recognized as much as having come on our show
Bill Langworthy: We get a much smaller number than those shows, but we rerun.
Bill Langworthy: If you're on our show, it's like having a free commercial playing on Animal Planet that runs forever
Bill Langworthy: In the long run, many, many more people will see you on Pet Star (adding up all the airings), than will see you on Leno or Letterman
hogan: what is the time commitment needed to participate on the show.
Bill Langworthy: We usually shoot on Saturday, so you'd miss work on Friday, do a rehearsal that night, do the show on Sat, and fly back on Sun
Bill Langworthy: We've had some people fly in the morning of the show, or fly out right after their show. We've even had people rehearse the show and perform in one day.
Bill Langworthy: We recommend that you make a weekend of it and enjoy yourself
sushimom: what do you mean by playing over and over: does the show reapeat itself alot?
Bill Langworthy: Yes. In fact, it reruns the night it premiers.
Bill Langworthy: They also show it at odd hours, during the day, etc. Look at and you'll see how many times Pet Star airs during the week
sushimom: does the pet get to fly celebrity status, or does it have to go in cargo?
Bill Langworthy: Unless the owner wants to fly it celebrity themselves, we fly pets down below
Bill Langworthy: In five years I've never had a problem: it's pressurized, oxygen's pumped in, and there's temperature control
veronica: Bill, curious...I have an australian shepherd who has an abundent trick repetoiore, she previously was on David Letterman...if I send a is limited to two you want to see multiple tricks or just one
Bill Langworthy: What did it do on Letterman
Bill Langworthy: When was she on
veronica: she performed a "jack in the box" she was on last fall
veronica: but she does numerous other tricks
Bill Langworthy: We liked tricks that we can easily explain to an audience. The best is if it's one routine that has a chain of behaviors put into it
Bill Langworthy: Sorry, we had someone do a jack in the box already this year
Sher: How about a miniature horse who plays with a Siberian Husky? ;)
Bill Langworthy: Let's see it. Send it to me!
sushimom: you keep in touch with your contestants?
Bill Langworthy: A little. It's amazing how small the animal world is.
Bill Langworthy: I see them at auditions, they call in to refer new people to me, and we always call them to let them know their episode is going to be on
Bill Langworthy: The moderator of this chat is a former contestant, and we speak every month
Bill Langworthy: Andrew Mouser is the moderator, and he'll be holding an audition for me at his Malibu Iron Dog's Camp, for all interested
Moderator: (Information can be found at
ShadowPuP: Do you have any pets?
Bill Langworthy: I inherited some frogs (Mystikal, Exhibit, and Ghost-Faced Killah) that were on the show but couldn't get back on the plane. We also have a fish named fish
Bill Langworthy: Unfortunately, we tape on the weekends, and I travel on auditions on the weekend, so I can't have a dog
Bill Langworthy: Once this gig ends, I'm getting a French bulldog whom I will name Madeline.
sushimom: will the writers help put the scenario together if you have a good trick?
Bill Langworthy: Yes, if there's a behavior that I like I try to come up with a good scenario to wrap it up in. When I'm stumped I go to the writers
ShadowPuP: Why couldn't the frogs get back on the plane?
Bill Langworthy: You can't fly reptiles.
resmith3405: do you have any other programs on the back burner?
Bill Langworthy: My employer also produces the planet's funniest animals, but I work full-time on Pet Star. It's a full-time job
Bill Langworthy: Do you feel that you would watch more programming like Pet Star if it were availible?
Sher: I absolutely LOVE Funniest Animals, so the more animal shows the better. :)
resmith3405: I am an agility nut right nowe. I can't seem to find any of that.
Bill Langworthy: A.P.
veronica: do youhave extras in case someone gets stage fright
Bill Langworthy: A.P.'s done a lot of that in the past
Bill Langworthy: No, we bring in nine or ten acts and if someone doesn't perform at all, we cut them.
Bill Langworthy: We've done shows with as few as 8 acts
Bill Langworthy: usually, even if the trick doesn't go perfectly, something funny happens.
Bill Langworthy: In most cases, when we cut an act, it's because the trick didn't work at all and the owner is thankful that we did
ShadowPuP: Have you ever had anywone with stage fright the human not thte pet.
Bill Langworthy: A lot of people get really nervous, even though they're not really performing
Bill Langworthy: It makes a tremendous effect on the animal. They're so in tune with the handler's emotions that they get frightened too. They think they're about to be eaten by a bear or something
Moderator: Just a few more questions, this has been the longest chat event we've had and Bill needs to get home after a long day of work.
sushimom: do you pay to fly 2 people or do you have to come alone?
Bill Langworthy: one person. Your friend or loved one can stay in the hotel for free and come to the show, but we can only pay for one person. However, you're not really alone because your pet is with you
Moderator: Thank you Bill for joining us. Everyone knows a lot more now with what to do. Transcripts of this chat will be posted soon at
Bill Langworthy: Thanks guys. Good bye.
ShadowPuP: bye
sushimom: nice chatting.....thank you.
The PalacePresents event "Pet Star's Bill Langworthy" is over.
Thank you for attending.