Malibu’s pets get a chance at the spotlight

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Auditions for the animal talent show Pet Star will just be a portion of the two-day Animal Planet extravaganza.

By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times

Celebrity often seems to run in families in Malibu-just look at Martin and Charlie Sheen; Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson; Bob and Jacob Dylan. But have Malibu’s pets gained any star prowess from living amongst the rich and famous? Local animals will have a chance to test their potential for stardom when the cable network Animal Planet holds tryouts for the third season of its animal talent show, “Pet Star,” June 26 and 27 at an animal expo at Malibu Bluffs.

“Pet Star” host Mario Lopez, of “Saved By the Bell,” will host the public auditions Saturday to scope out Malibu animals’ “outrageous pet tricks” to see if any pets deserve a place in next season’s competition. Gayle Anderson of KTLA morning news will host Sunday’s auditions. The “Pet Star” production crew will tape the auditions for use in a compilation of tryout footage that will air in next season’s audition special.

The auditions are part of a 15-city talent search to procure contestants for next season’s “Pet Star,” in which the winner will take home $25,000.

Rolling over or fetching won’t get a second glance at these auditions-last season’s gold medal went to a troop of nine formerly stray dogs whose owner taught them to jump rope and run in formations through each other’s legs.

To top it off, the “Nine K-9” troop formed a conga line in height order, with big, shaggy Senor Gomez at the front and tiny toy dogs Mini and Priscilla bringing up the rear.

A bulldog who hopped on a skateboard and used one paw to propel herself captured the runner-up slot last season, and a dog that answered questions such as, “How many points do you want from each judge?” with the appropriate number of barks (10), took home third place.

Dogs have dominated the first two seasons of “Pet Star,” winning the top three prizes in both seasons’ finals. Pets of any species are welcome to audition, though, and Animal Planet’s Los Angeles Marketing Manager Laleh Rafiee said all kinds of animals try out, from ponies to birds.

The auditions will be part of a two-day Animal Planet expo that will feature various shows and interactive activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

Frisbee-playing dogs will perform at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. on both days. On the half hour there will be wild animal shows, featuring a video of Animal Planet’s wild animal guru Jeff Corwin and opportunities to view live wild animals, possibly including pythons, alligators and wallabies.

Dr. Robert Taylor of Animal Planet’s show “Emergency Vets” will attend the expo both Saturday and Sunday. He will answer pet-health questions and give presentations at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., in addition to hosting trivia games and contests. Taylor is a seasoned animal surgeon who established himself as an unusually devoted veterinarian in the early 1970s when he made the then-rare decision to keep his practice open 24 hours a day. Since then, Taylor estimates that he has performed 17,000 pet operations, according to his profile on the Animal Planet Web site.

Pets are welcome to attend the event, even if not trying out for Pet Star.

For people looking to adopt a dog or cat, local shelters will bring animals that need homes and pet experts to assist families in selecting pets.

The expo is free and open to the public. Parking will be available on Malibu Canyon and Winter Canyon roads, with free shuttles to the expo, which will be on the bluffs at 24250 Pacific Coast Highway.

On both days, auditions will take place from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Potential stars can pre-register for auditions by emailing Auditions@BradLachManProds.com or calling 323.463.5040, or they can simply show up for the tryouts.