AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Best in Show
Alternate Title: Dog Show
Director: Christopher Guest (Dir)
Release Date:   27 Sep 2000
Premiere Information:   World premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: 8 Sep 2000; New York and Los Angeles opening: 27 Sep 2000
Production Date:   8 Nov 1999--late Feb 2000 in Vancouver, British Columbia and Los Angeles, CA
Duration (in mins):   90
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Display Movie Summary


Cast: in order of appearance: Jay Brazeau (Dr. Chuck Nelken)  
    Parker Posey (Meg Swan)  
    Michael Hitchcock (Hamilton Swan)  
    Catherine O'Hara (Cookie Fleck)  
    Eugene Levy (Gerry Fleck)  
    Carrie Aizley (Fern City Show spectator)  
    Lewis Arquette (Fern City Show spectator)  
    Dany Canino (Fern City Show judge)  
    Bob Balaban (Dr. Theodore W. Millbank, III)  
    Will Sasso (Fishin' Hole guy)  
    Stephen E. Miller (Fishin' Hole guy)  
    Christopher Guest (Harlan Pepper)  
    Michael McKean (Stefan Vanderhoof)  
    John Michael Higgins (Scott Donlan)  
    Colin Cunningham (New York butcher)  
    Jehshua Barnes (Scott's wild date)  
    Patrick Cranshaw (Leslie Ward Cabot)  
    Jennifer Coolidge (Sherri Ann Cabot)  
    Don Lake (Graham Chissolm)  
    Scott Williamson (Winky's party guest)  
    Deborah Theaker (Winky's party guest)  
    Rachael Harris (Winky's party guest)  
    Jane Lynch (Christy Cummings)  
    Fulvio Cecere (Airport passerby)  
    Linda Kash (Fay Berman)  
    Larry Miller (Max Berman)  
    Ed Begley, Jr. (Hotel manager [Mark Schaefer])  
    Cody Gregg (Zach Berman)  
    Teryl Rothery (Philly AM host)  
    Tony Alcantar (Philly AM chef)  
    Camille Sullivan (Philly AM assistant)  
    Dave Cameron (Philly AM host)  
    Lynda Boyd (Cabot party guest)  
    Madeleine Kipling (Cabot party guest)  
    Merrilyn Gann (Cabot party guest)  
    Andrew Johnston (Cabot party guest)  
    Malcolm Stewart (Malcolm)  
    Jay-Lyn Green (Leslie's nurse)  
    Fred Willard (Buck Laughlin)  
    Jim Piddock (Trevor Beckwith)  
    Earlene Luke (Mayflower Hound judge)  
    Carmen Aguirre (Taft hotel maid)  
    Harold Pybus (Mayflower Toy judge)  
    Hiro Kanagawa (Pet shop owner)  
    Cleo A. Laxton (Mayflower Terrier judge)  
    Corrine Koslo (Mayflower Sporting judge)  
    Andrew Wheeler (Mayflower ring steward)  
    Don Emslie (Mayflower Non-Sporting judge)  
    Don S. Davis (Mayflower Best in Show judge)  
    Steven Porter (Bulge)  
    Melanie Angel (American Bitch photo editor)  
    Doane Gregory (Terry the photographer)  
  The Dogs Can. Ch. Arokat's Echobar Take Me Dancing ("Beatrice" the Weimaraner)  
    Can. Ch. Urchin's Bryllo ("Winky" the Norwich Terrier)  
    Ch. Quiet Creek's Stand By Me ("Hubert" the Bloodhound)  
    Can. Ch. Rapture's Classic ("Miss Agnes" the Shih Tzu)  
    Can. Ch. Symarun's Red Hot Kisses ("Tyrone" the Shih Tzu)  
    Brocade Exclamation ("Rhapsody in White" the Standard Poodle)  
    Can. Ch. Exxel Dezi Duz It With Pizaz ("Rhapsody in White" the Standard Poodle)  
    Paul Vanston (Cocktail piano player)  

Summary: Five days before the famed Mayflower Dog Show is to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, trendy dog owners Meg and Hamilton Swan take their neurotic Weimaraner Beatrice to psychiatrist Chuck Nelken to be treated for a state of depression triggered by Beatrice's witnessing her owners having sex. In Fern City, Florida, Cookie Fleck, a former waitress, and her good-natured yet oafish salesman husband Gerry serenade their beloved Norwich Terrier Winky while making plans to attend the dog show. At his fishing equipment shop in Pine Nut, North Carolina, Harlan Pepper readies his Bloodhound Hubert for the competition by holding a conversation with the dog in which Harlan voices Hubert’s thoughts through the use of ventriloquism. In New York City, Stefan Vanderhoof, the middle-aged proprietor of a hair salon, combs out his prized Shih Tzus, Miss Agnes and Tyrone, while recalling how he fell in love with his flamboyant young boyfriend, Scott Donlan, after watching Scott sashaying in the show ring where he proved to be “light on his feet.” At the Cabot mansion in Philadelphia, Sherri Ann Cabot, the nubile, collagen-lipped young wife of senile millionaire Leslie Ward Cabot gushes about the love of soup she shares with her elderly husband. Afterward, Sherri talks with dog handler Christy Cummings, who has trained the Cabot’s Standard Poodle Rhapsody in White, who is nicknamed “Butch.” The masculine-looking Christy explains that she provides Butch with discipline while Sherri offers unconditional love. Soon after, Meg and Hamilton fly with the high strung Beatrice to Philadelphia while Harlan loads Hubert into his recreational vehicle and Cookie, Winky and Gerry drive off in their van. Along the way, Cookie insists on stopping to visit Max Berman, an old acquaintance from her restaurant days. Much to Gerry’s chagrin, Max passionately embraces Cookie, then over dinner, recounts the sexual acrobatics he performed with her. Interspersed with reminiscences of his sexual conquests, Max provides a grisly description of his job as a hostage negotiator. When Max’s son Zach takes Winky hostage and climbs onto the garage roof with the dog, Max demonstrates his skill as a negotiator by threatening to disembowel the boy. Later as the contestants start to arrive at the Taft Hotel in Philadelphia, Scott takes it as an insult when hotel manager Mark Schaefer states that he has Scott and Stefan “down as a queen.” When Cookie and Max arrive at the hotel, they discover that their credit card has been rejected due to an unpaid bill, but Mark takes pity on them and offers them lodging in a utility closet. As they prepare for a welcoming party in the hotel lobby, Meg and Hamilton, who share a love of clothing catalogs, debate which monochromatic colors to wear that night. At the party, Cookie meets another dalliance from her waitress days while Harlan bores Meg and Hamilton with his description of fly fishing. When Scott introduces himself as “Mary” and shows off his flashy, embroidered pants, the gullible Gerry addresses him as Mary. Meanwhile, at the Cabot mansion party, an ice sculpture of Butch slowly melts as Sherri models her diamond tiara and the silent Leslie is rolled into the room in his wheelchair. Before going to bed that night, Scott and Stefan redecorate their hotel room and then phone Tyrone, who has remained at home, to sing him a lullaby. On the day of the show, Hamilton gives Beatrice a pep talk and then becomes hysterical when he realizes that the dog’s favorite toy, a rubber bee, has been left behind at the hotel. As the show begins, announcer Buck Laughlin provides a running commentary of lewd jokes and offensive remarks, much to the consternation of dog authority Trevor Beckwith. As Hubert wins the hound category, making him eligible to compete for “Best in Show,” Meg rushes back to the hotel to retrieve Beatrice’s bee. After failing to find it, she hurries to a toy store to find a replacement. Meanwhile, Scott prances around the ring with Agnes and is awarded first place in the toy dog category. Scott then hurries back to the hotel to change his clothes for the Best In Show competition. The terriers are next to compete, and Cookie and Gerry cheer Winky on with advice about maintaining a “happy attitude.” After Winky wins her class, Meg returns and tells Hamilton that she has failed to find a replacement bee, prompting him to scream at her and storm off. Later, when Hamilton marches Beatrice into the show ring, the dog attacks the judge and is dismissed in disgrace. After Butch wins her contest, Christy runs into the hallway and passionately kisses Sherri on the lips. Watching the proceedings on their hotel room television, Scott comments that Christy is “one happy fella.” While ushering Winky to the Best in Show competition, Cookie trips and injures her knee. It then falls to the inexperienced Gerry, who (literally) has two left feet, to act as Winky’s handler. When Winky is awarded Best in Show, Gerry is incredulous and Christy sulks. Six months later, Gerry and Cookie, now back home in Fern City, describe their victorious homecoming and their burgeoning career recording their terrier songs under the name of “The Captain and Cookie.” Christy and Sherri, meanwhile, have launched the publication of American Butch , a dog magazine geared to lesbian purebred owners. In Pine Nut, Harlan explains that after spending time reflecting at an Israeli kibbutz, he realized his fate was to become a master ventriloquist. Scott and Stefan have published a calendar picturing their dogs dressed as great lovers in the cinema, while Meg and Hamilton, who are back in therapy, tell Dr. Nelken that their marital problems were all caused by Beatrice, whom they have since replaced by a pug who enjoys watching them have sex.  

Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment (AOL Time Warner)
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures (AOL Time Warner)
Director: Christopher Guest (Dir)
  Jack Hardy (1st asst dir)
  J. Stephen Buck (1st asst dir, Los Angeles crew)
  Mindy Heslin (2d asst dir)
  John MacCarthy (Addl 2d asst dir)
  Carie Wallis (3d asst dir)
  Brent Crowell (Addl 3d asst dir)
  Aldric Porter (1st asst dir, Los Angeles crew)
  Walter Parry Jr. (2d asst dir, Los Angeles crew)
  David Hyman (2d asst dir, Los Angeles crew)
  Phil Robinson (2d 2d asst dir, Los Angeles crew)
Producer: Karen Murphy (Prod)
  Gordon Mark (Exec prod)
Writer: Christopher Guest (Wrt )
  Eugene Levy (Wrt )
Photography: Roberto Schaefer (Dir of photog)
  Rick Drapkin (1st asst cam)
  Randy Morton (2d asst cam)
  Matthew Tichenor (2d asst cam/loader)
  Wade Ferley (B cam op)
  Stephen Taylor (Betacam op)
  Doane Gregory (Stills photog)
  Denis Brock (Gaffer)
  Stuart Haggerty (Best boy lighting)
  Rod Feldmeier (Generator op)
  Ray Boyle (Lamp op)
  Ken W. Anderson (Lamp op)
  Rodrigue Hamilton (Lamp op)
  Harvey Fedor (Key grip)
  Charlie Schultz (Best boy grip)
  Gary Williams (Grip)
  David Neveaux (Rigging grip)
  Scott Vere (Dolly grip)
  Energy Film Library (Philadelphia aerial footage provided by)
  The Camera Shop (AATON Cam/prod equipment provided by)
Art Direction: Joseph T. Garrity (Prod des)
  Gary Myers (Art dir)
  Roxanne Methot (Asst art dir)
  Nancy Brown (Art dept asst)
Film Editor: Robert Leighton (Ed)
  Andrew Dickler (1st asst ed)
  Mark Yoshikawa (Asst ed)
  Clint Paglaro (Video asst)
  Bud Lafaut (24-frame playback)
  Immaculate matching (Negative conformed by)
  Elliott Gamson (Negative conformed by)
Set Decoration: Kelvin Humenny (Set des)
  Dominique Fauquet-Lemaitre (Supv set dec)
  Elizabeth Patrick (Set dec)
  Dena Roth (Set dec, Los Angeles crew)
  Gil Peyronnenc (Set dec buyer)
  Jean-Luc Grenier (Lead dresser)
  Michael Rouse (On-set dresser)
  Lawrence Crosthwaite (Set dresser)
  Andrew Hussey (Set dresser)
  Shannon McFarlane (Set dresser)
  Christine Shaw (Set dresser)
  Wayne McLaughlin (Prop master)
  Thomas R. Cahill (Prop master, Los Angeles crew)
  Catherine Leighton (Asst prop master)
  Jason B. Landels (Asst prop master)
  Hayley Mills-Lott (Props buyer)
  Jim Davie (Const coord)
  Mark Rathgeber (Const foreman)
  Ray Watts (Lead hand)
  Jack Williams (Lead hand)
  Vance Conway (Scenic carpenter)
  Bill Dyson (Scenic carpenter)
  Martin Sigmund (Scenic carpenter)
  Russell Frederick Stewart (Scenic carpenter)
  Jeremy Young (Lead laborer)
  Dennis 'Bill' Kerney (Laborer)
  Sean Lavoie (Head painter)
  Paul Duffy (Lead painter)
  Bob Boulet (Scenic artist)
  Colin Gillett (Scenic artist)
  Aaron Coakwell (Scenic painter)
  Jack Guppy (Scenic painter)
  Marlow Pederson (Tool maintenance)
  Peter P. Lunt (Head greensman)
Costumes: Monique Prudhomme (Cost des)
  Debbie Douglas (Asst cost des)
  Diana Patterson (Cost supv)
  Durinda Wood (Cost supv, Los Angeles crew)
  Gail Vance (Cost)
  Jenny Bernice (Cost)
  Roots (Eugene Levy's shoes)
Music: Jeffery C. J. Vanston (Mus)
  Gregg Bissonette (Drums)
  Don Shelton (Woodwinds)
  C. J. Vanston (Keyboards)
  Anthony Wilson (Guitar)
  Chris Tedesco (Trumpet)
  Bill Churchville (Trumpet)
  Jeffrey Goodman (Violin)
  Lord Haden-Guest (Sitar)
Sound: Hamilton Sterling (Supv sd ed)
  Mark Weingarten (Sd mixer)
  Lawrence Commans (Boom op)
  Rick Bold (Boom op)
  Alison Fisher (Dial/ADR ed)
  Michael Magill (Dial ed)
  John Joseph Thomas (Foley ed)
  Sarah Monat (Foley artist)
  Robert Harlan (Foley artist)
  Randy Singer (Foley mixer)
  Ali Derakhshan (Sd asst)
  Mark Coffey (Sd transfers)
  Matthew Iadarola (Re-rec mixer)
  Gary Gegan (Re-rec mixer)
  Bob Deschaine (ADR mixer)
  Tami Treadwell (ADR rec)
  Big Top Recording, GBP Studios (Mus rec at)
  Big Top Recording North Hollywood, California (Mus mixed at)
  David Cole (Mus mixer)
  Tom Halm (Project coord/mus prep)
  Todd-AO Studios West (Sd re-rec by)
  Fernand Bos (Mus ed)
Special Effects: Gord Davis (Spec eff coord)
  Pacific Title (Titles and opticals)
  John E. Allen Associates (Optical preprint mastering)
Make Up: Anji Bemben (Key hair stylist)
  Kandace Loewen (Hairstylist)
  Judi Cooper-Sealy (Hair consultant, Los Angeles crew)
  Kate Shorter (Key makeup)
  Rita Ciccozzi (1st asst makeup)
  J. Alan Bloore D.D.S., M.S. (Ms. Posey's and Mr. Hitchcock's orthodonics)
  Dr. Howard Klaiman (Eugene Levy's prosthetic teeth)
Production Misc: Stewart Bethune (Prod mgr)
  Jim Behnke (Unit prod mgr, Los Angeles crew)
  Donna Bloom (Unit prod mgr, Los Angeles crew)
  M. Almaz Tadege (Prod coord)
  Shari Lafranchi (Prod coord, Los Angeles crew)
  Montez Monroe (Prod coord, Los Angeles crew)
  Charissa McLain (Asst prod coord, Los Angeles crew)
  Nathan Tichenor (Co-prod coord)
  Jena Niquidet (2d asst coord)
  Tricia Miles (Post prod supv)
  Brian McNulty (Post prod supv)
  Tracy Young (Scr supv)
  Stuart Aikins (Casting)
  Jill Anthony (Casting, Los Angeles crew)
  Mel Russo (Casting assoc, Los Angeles crew)
  Sean Cossey (Casting asst)
  Lori Marshall (Extras casting)
  Rachael Taylor (Extras casting asst)
  Patrick Stark (Extras casting asst)
  Central Casting (Extras casting, Los Angeles crew)
  Leigh French (Voice casting)
  Ann Goobie (Loc mgr)
  Val Burnley (Loc mgr, Los Angeles crew)
  Lori Bolton (Loc mgr, Los Angeles crew)
  Paul D. Giordano (Asst loc mgr)
  Robert Bauer (LA prod liaison)
  Karin Tolson (Asst to Mr. Guest)
  Laura Livingstone (Asst to Ms. Murphy)
  Pamela Griner (Asst to Mr. Guest and Ms. Murphy, Los Angeles crew)
  Adam Gubman (Asst to Mr. Vanston)
  Bettina O'Mara (Product promotions coord)
  Daniel Mansfield (Prod asst)
  Ken Brooker (Prod asst)
  Leann Harvey (Prod asst)
  David Wallace (Prod asst)
  Aiden Zanini (Prod asst)
  Christopher Iain Tarling (Prod asst)
  Hans Dayal (Prod asst)
  Karin L. Behrenz (Prod asst)
  Shawn Montgomery (Prod asst)
  Ari Jacobs (Prod asst, Los Angeles crew)
  Nick Harman (Prod asst, Los Angeles crew)
  Marina Black (Prod asst, Los Angeles crew)
  Dave Auge (Prod asst, Los Angeles crew)
  Mark Dumas (Animal wrangler)
  Carol J. Garvin (Dog show coord/consultant)
  Connie Rusgen (Head trainer)
  Earlene J. Luke (Tech adv)
  Karmyn La Saw (B.C.S.P.C.A. coord)
  Dany Canino (L.A. animal tech adv)
  Susan Lawrence (U.S. Norwich Terrier coord)
  Tim Selberg (Ventriloquist puppet)
  Derrick Beckles (Clearances)
  Julia Frittaion (Unit pub)
  Lynda Mills (DGC trainee)
  Reel Appetites (Caterer)
  Jeremy Wise (Chef)
  Robin Edgar (Asst chef)
  Gail M. Estrada (First Aid/Craft service)
  Nancy Kress (Extras craft service)
  Chris Bradford (Security capt)
  Bob Dennett (Transportation coord)
  Geoff Williams (Transportation capt)
  Scott Delaplace (Driver)
  Fred Davies (Driver)
  Felix Fanzega (Driver)
  Jim Barley (Driver)
  Mark Pawlitsky (Driver)
  Donald T. Cox (Driver)
  Gordon Glen (Driver)
  Terry Storey (Driver)
  Lee Moors (Driver)
  Ron Blenkarn (Driver)
  Brett H. Smith (Driver)
  Allan Fenske (Driver)
  Derek Rama (Driver)
  Ed Johnson (Driver)
  Ross Wilkinson (Driver)
  Dave McDonald (Driver)
  Jim Forrest (Driver)
  Wayne Power (Driver)
  Brian J. Madore (Driver)
  Ted Wassenaar (Driver)
  Jan Dennehy (Accountant)
  Jim Dunlap (Asst accountant)
  Rich Brown (Payroll accountant)
  Daniel Eisenberg (Payroll accountant)
  Anne Scott (Post prod accountant)
  Dave Hoodless (Accounting trainee)
  Rainmaker Digital Pictures (Film lab services provided by)
Stand In: David Alexander (Stunt coord)
Color Personnel: Kurt Smith (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Piano Seduction," written and performed by Paul Vanston; "March of the Mayflower" and "Mutt's Strutt," music by C. J. Vanston, performed by the Martini Brothers.
Songs: "God Loves a Terrier" and "Terrier Style," words and music by Eugene Levy, performed by Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara; "Louisiana Nights," music and lyrics by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, performed by Christopher Guest.
Composer: Christopher Guest
  Eugene Levy
  Michael McKean
  Catherine O'Hara
  C. J. Vanston
  Paul Vanston
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Castle Rock Entertainment 27/10/2000 dd/mm/yyyy PA0001039866

PCA NO: 37689
Physical Properties: col:
  Sd: Dolby; SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound); Digital DTS Sound in selected theatres
  Lenses/Prints: prints by Technicolor
  gauge: 35mm

 
Genre: Satire
Sub-Genre: Animal
 
Subjects (Major): Dog shows
  Dogs
  Gold diggers
  Hairdressers
  Homosexuality
  Promiscuity
  Romance--Age difference
  Snobs and snobbishness
 
Subjects (Minor): Aged men
  Bumblers
  Clothes
  Hotel managers
  Hotels
  Lesbianism
  Millionaires
  Parties
  Philadelphia (PA)
  Pride and vanity
  Psychiatrists
  Ventriloquists and ventriloquism

Note: The working titles of this film were Dog Show and Untitled Dogumentary . The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. The end credits contain the following written disclaimer: “The B.C.S.P.C.A. and American Humane Association monitored animal action. No animal was harmed during the making of this film.” According to an Oct 2000 article in New York magazine, the film was originally shot on Super 16mm film and later blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution. A Var Jun 2001 story noted that although Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy wrote a master plan for the script, most of the dialogue was improvised by the actors. A total of sixty hours of footage was shot, which was later trimmed to ninety minutes. The stories of the dog show contestants are cross-cut throughout the film. Guest, Levy, and actors Bob Balaban, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Linda Kash and Parker Posey had previously collaborated on the 1997 film Waiting for Guffman . Guest and McKean also collaborated on the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap . According to materials contained in the film’s production file at the AMPAS Library, Best in Show was filmed on location in Vancouver, B.C., and the Florida scenes were filmed in Los Angeles.
       Earlene Luke, a professional dog handler who served as the film’s technical advisor, taught the principal actors how to handle their dogs in the show ring. The dog show, which was filmed in a large auditorium filled with dog owners, handlers and audience extras, took five days to shoot and was based on the annual Westminster Dog Show in New York. To assure the accuracy of the picture, Guest and producer Karen Murphy spent months attending and researching dog shows. The name of the Sitar player, Lord Haden-Guest, is the real title of Christopher Guest, who is a British peer. Best in Show had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in Sep 2000 and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Picture, as well as being chosen as one of AFI's top ten films of the year. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   11 Sep 2000.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 1999.   p. 29.
Hollywood Reporter   15-21 Feb 2000.   
Hollywood Reporter   28 Sep 2000.   
Los Angeles Times   27 Sep 2000.   
New York Magazine   2 Oct 2000.   
New York Times   24 Sep 2000.   
New York Times   27 Sep 2000.   
Newsweek   2 Oct 2000.   
Variety   11 Sep 2000.   
Variety   25 Sep 2000.   
Variety   11 Jun 2001.   

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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