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News Link • Animals and Pets

Lassie as Salesdog: One More Trip to the Well

• http://www.nytimes.com, By BROOKS BARNESAUG
Maybe her hairdo was wilting under the hot television lights. Maybe a dog, even a showbiz one, was just not meant to be a meteorologist.

Whatever the reason, Lassie seemed unfocused as the cameras rolled last month at KTTV, the Fox affiliate here. Booked to help give the weather report, she woofed off cue and let loose a torrent of drool. "I'm not sure," a Fox anchor said as the segment ended, "but I think Lassie is annoyed."

No matter. The publicists cooed their approval, deciding that the appearance had done its job: Lassie had inched a bit closer to a comeback. "Good work, gorgeous," said one of the public relations people, Ame Van Iden, giving her client a pat on the snout.

How does Hollywood teach an old dog new tricks? Pay attention, Toto, because DreamWorks Animation, which gained control of the faded Lassie brand in 2012, has unleashed the comeback campaign to end all comeback campaigns. Initially flummoxed about what to do with a treasured but outdated symbol of Americana, the studio is now convinced that a simple collie can still resonate in a Grumpy Cat world.

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