Pooch Progress: TV’s Comet Finally Hits Big Screen

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By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
May 25, 1995

So Robert De Niro and Marisa Tomei gained weight for their movie roles.  Big deal.  Comet – no last name, please – easily can one-up them.

The 9-year-old had his luxurious blond mane snipped and dyed murky brown, perfected a limp and convinced the casting director that he could play a 1-year-old in the new comedy “Fluke.”

Oh, did we mention that Comet is a dog?

Fans of the ABC sitcom “Full House” know Comet.  For six seasons, the 65-pound golden retriever played the Tanners’ pet, also named Comet.  As the series completes its final season this year, Comet is making the transition to the big screen.  He stars  in the film “Fluke,” opening Friday;  at local theaters.

On his most recent trip to Chicago earlier this week (he shot a commercial here last winter), Comet got the star treatment.  He enjoyed a room at the Four Seasons Hotel.  A trainer and driver accompanied him on his publicity rounds to places such as Planet Hollywood and Animal Kingdom. And a publicist dutifully carried  around bottled water for him to lap up between interviews.

But if you think Comet has an attitude, guess again.  Laid back and friendly, the dog shows no favoritism – unless there happen to be blond women around.

“He really likes blonds,” said Comet’s  trainer Cristie Miele, who happens to be a blond.  “I always say he’s a man trapped in a dog’s body,” which is what the plot of “Fluke” is all about.

Comet plays an orphaned puppy named Fluke who has flashbacks of a family that seems very real to him.

Over time, he realizes that he was once a man (Matthew Modine) and headed that household before he was killed in an auto accident.  With the help of his canine friend Rumbo,  Fluke goes back home and tries to protect his “wife” (Nancy Travis) and “son” (Max Pomeranc) from his best friend (Eric Stoltz), whom he believes murdered him.

Though the producers were impressed by Comet’s acting ability and physical dexterity, they almost passed on him because of his pure-breed pedigree.  Fluke is supposed to be a dark mutt, and Comet, basically, is the Brad Pitt of dogs.

“They auditioned hundreds of other dogs but came back to Comet,” Miele said proudly.  “We clipped his fur to make it look matted, and then had his fur made brown, using a safe vegetable dye that had no ammonia or peroxide. He was a good sport.”

Comet is pretty low maintenance.  Besides a weekly bath when he’s working (he’s allergic to fleas) and two square meals a day (a wheatless kibble mix – he’s allergic to wheat, too – and an occasional chicken breast), his only request is that he be allowed to sleep in on occasion. Though Miele’s other dogs wake up at the crack of dawn, Comet will stay in bed until  11 if he can get away with it.

“He’s my favorite,” Miele said.  “He’s an exceptional dog that is so focused.  He just gets better all the time.  I figure a dog like Comet comes along once in a lifetime.”

Miele never would have gotten Comet had his original owners not given him up to the Golden Retriever Rescue. That organization, which finds homes for the breed,  offered him to Animal Actors.

Miele, who works for Animal Actors, saw star potential in the 1-year-old retriever and took him home to meet her other eight dogs, including the poodle Darla, best known for her role as  Precious in “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Comet will audition for other feature roles but Miele said that – unlike other actors – he has no aversion to doing television or working with other species.  In fact, just last winter he  starred in a McDonald’s commercial where he gave a cat a video and gently licked its head.

About the only actors he doesn’t like working with are puppies. During an appearance at the Animal Kingdom pet store, he did tricks for the kids and posed for pictures but stayed away from the caged puppies.

At 9, Comet is savvy enough to know that the pups could steal his thunder.

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