Emory on M.R.E.s – Making Your Pet a Hollywood Star By Gary Michael Smith

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Writing for a variety of publications can bring you different kinds of visibility. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed 80 percent of New Orleans, my partner Brenda and I ended up adopting one of the many abandoned cats roaming the streets. This particular mackerel tabby had been following National Guard troops around for weeks, evidently eating whatever M.R.E.s they’d give him.

After a few months, “Emory” as we named him was still roaming the streets so Brenda and I adopted him. Like many in the neighborhood Emory had quite a story of survival so I wrote about him for a cat e-zine. Then, months later I got an email with the subject line “We love Emory too!”

The email was from the casting director for a film production company in Los Angeles. Their talent scout had found my article and The Story of Emory was exactly the type of tale they were seeking. The production company was hired by Purina pet foods to develop the pilot for the Discovery Channel network’s Animal Planet that was to be called “Housecat Housecall.”

The concept is that a celebrity veterinarian from Australia comes to your home to help a cat’s owners deal with specific issues. In our case, the production company loved the idea of a cat having survived Hurricane Katrina and being adopted, and that the owners were trying to help it assimilate into a new, domestic environment. So within a week we had a 14-person cast and crew set up in our home shooting the first episode, making Emory a Hollywood star – all from an article in an online magazine.

Gary Michael Smith is a writer, editor, and educator in New Orleans. He can be reached at gsmith – at – datasync.com.