Interview with John O'Hurley and David Frei of the 16th annual broadcast of the "National Dog Show" Presented by Purina on NBC - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Krista

Neil Meron and Marc Platt 

Interview with John O'Hurley and David Frei of the 16th annual broadcast of the "National Dog Show" Presented by Purina on NBC 11/16/17

NBC UNIVERSAL Moderator: Erika Lewis
November 16, 2017 1:00 pm CT

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing back. Welcome to the National Dog Show Presented By Purina Press and Media Call.

During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. If you have a question, please press the 1, followed by the 4 on your telephone. At any time during the conference you need to reach an operator, please press Star zero. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded, Thursday, November 16, 2017.

I would now the turn the conference over to Erika Lewis. Please go ahead.

Erika Lewis: Hi, everyone. Thank you, Kathy. We're very happy to have John O'Hurley and David Frei with us today to talk about the 16th annual broadcast of the National Dog Show Presented by Purina. The show will air at Thanksgiving Day at noon in all time zones on NBC, right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

We are very happy to have your questions today and please feel free to rejoin the queue if you have more during the conference. And we're just ready to get started. Thanks, Kathy.

Operator: Thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to register a question, please press the 1, followed by the 4 on your telephone. You will hear a three-tone prompt top acknowledge your request. If your question has been answered and you would like to withdraw your registration, please press the 1, followed by the 3. If you’re using a speakerphone, please lift your handset before entering your request.

Again, to register for a question, please press the 1, followed by the on your telephone. One moment for the first question.

Ladies and gentlemen, to register for a question, please press the 1, followed by the 4 on your telephone.

Erika Lewis: Kathy, if it's Okay, I can take things up for the questions.

Operator; Certainly, go ahead.

Erika Lewis: Hi, guys, I'm sorry, we're just waiting for the queue to fill up here. But I guess let’s start off with how are you feeling in your 16th year of the show?

John O'Hurley: Sixteen years, another one?


John O'Hurley: It seems like yesterday. You know…


John O'Hurley: Parts of it seemed like - parts of it seemed it like yesterday. But as, you know, you look back and you look at all the photos from the years past and the things that we've done, it becomes quite a compendium of experience. And it's kind of fun to see all - the way that the show has evolved over the 16 years. And you think of all the wonderful dogs that we've seen and it's been quite an experience, it really has been.

David Frei: What makes it fun is that it’s a little bit different every year. I mean, we're doing the same thing, having a dog show but - and being competitive and all, but you get to see different dogs every year. You get to see some new breeds. You get to see different funny dog teams going on.

And I get to hear, you know, the latest from John and his view of our world which makes it great and fun for me. It makes it fun for the dogs and people, but it also makes it fun for all the people at home who are watching this. So I think we're going to have great fun and I hope that is evident to everybody.

John O'Hurley: Yes, David, you bring up a very good there. When we - I remember sitting down next to you and you’re describing some 160 breeds I think back in - when begun at 2002 and we're up - or over 190 right now I think in recognized breed, if I'm correct. It's amazing to see all of the new breeds that have come over the years. It's been kind of - we have kind of a rookie class every year.

David Frei: And practice pronunciation, you know, the Saluki or the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. And now they need to the Netherlands Kooikerhondje coming out of…

John O'Hurley: Don’t even start it. Don't even start with the new Dutch Spaniel. Listen, I'm going to have to put that name up on the mirror as I'm shaving in the morning and I'll try to pick up one syllable at a time.

David Frei: We'll work with you, John.

Operator: Hey, guys. And I do have a question from the line of Krista Chan from TV Megasite. Please proceed with the question.

Krista Chan: Hey, guys. It's nice to talk to you.

John O'Hurley: Hello.

Krista Chan: Hey, my question is for both of you. I read that you had been going for 16 years now and that last year was the highest rating. What is the thing that you think keeps people coming back year after year to watch the show?

John O'Hurley: Well, people are in search of good family programming that everybody can watch and I think this is why - this is what makes it such an unusual piece of television program. And I would look back over the whole best bastion of great programming decisions and, at least, in my memory, this is one of the great ones because it's the great family day of the year and no one wants to wrestle for the remote when you have, you know, 15 or 16 people in the family room and they’re all watching the television.

What do you watch that everybody can watch? Well, everybody loves dogs and there's nothing that - you can’t find for you when you're - as you're watching the show. You get those little - soft, little brown eyes and everybody is hooked in. So it's wonderful, whether you’re 4, you're 94, there's something there for you. And I think it gives us an opportunity to present the type of programming that I love about television, and that is everybody can sit down and watch it.

David Frei: What he said is perfect and I've learned that John - that he most often says the perfect thing and I agree with him 100%. And we're very proud of being able to do that for people.

Krista Chan: Well, congratulations and I look forward to watching.

David Frei: Thank you.

John O'Hurley: Thank you.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, to register for question, please press the 1, 4 on your telephone. And our next question comes from Kelsea Willenbrock from Please proceed with the question.

Kelsea Willenbrock: Hey, guys.

John O'Hurley: Hi there.

Kelsea Willenbrock: This question is for both of you. Is there any returning favorite dogs that have been in the past that you are looking forward, in particular, seeing compete this year?

David Frei: Well, one, certainly, is coming and that’s the English Springer Spaniel that was the Reserved Best In Show Dog last year. So it will be fun to see if he can take that next step forward and win it all.

We do know most of the dogs have entered, it's just that a lot of them haven't made up their minds if they’re to this show or going to a different show. But I think we're going see more dogs from the Top 10 in this country than we've ever had on the show before, so that’s always going to be fun. And I think it feels - maybe the next great star is going to show up, that we always hope for. We were there, the day this dog won its very first Best in Show, and now it's gone on to make history and we’d love to be a part of that too.

John O'Hurley: I would echo what David was saying about the Springer. I think last year, if my memory serves, that was one of the prettiest Springer Spaniels I think we've had in the history of the show and it was my hands-down favorite to win Best in Show last year. And I was actually - and when it didn’t win, I was pleading for calm in the streets because I just didn’t how the public is going to take it.

David Frei: We see that calming voice from John. There’s a piece (and people on the) issue on the Newsstand Now, I think, that asked for me three top - for dogs that like our top competitors this year. And I said the Springer, of course, I said a beautiful Whippet named Anna that won the Hound Group in Beverly Hills. John and I saw that when we did our first Beverly Hills Show this year. I love that dog too, and then a nice little Frenchie that’s owned by Patricia Shaw that’s been doing a lot of winning too.

So I think those two dogs to watch, but we have a lot of dogs to watch. We have over 2,000 of them for the first time and 190 or so different breeds and variety, so we'll find what's…


John O'Hurley: You know, I will have to - David, I want - yes, David, I what to echo something that you just said about the Frenchie. It's very interesting.

If you want to watch the evolution of the show to see kind of how our show kind of affects - kind of the public’s acceptance of certain breeds and I think we've seen the Frenchie as a good example of that, they were popular back, say, 10 years ago when the show was still in its infant stage. But I think a lot because we have shown the Frenchie so much, I think, on the show and talked so much about them is that they have become one of the most popular breeds now in America.

David Frei: I'm sure we have contributed to that and I think that’s the thing that both John and I are very proud of is the educational (part) of what we do, and that’s telling people what these dogs were bred to do, and about their temperaments and their personality, their conditioning needs and things, so that people can look at a dog if they’re trying to find the right dog for their family and for themselves, then hopefully we’ll give some information that could them started down that road.

John O'Hurley: And of course, for those that attend the show, it is a bench show and one of the last remaining ones of its type, which allows for great interactive experience. We have tens of thousands of people there, out of the Oaks Center there in Pennsylvania where we do the show.

And there is a - it's such an interactive experience, and even more so for families and especially for children who are just learning about dogs and they get to - instead of learn the name - learning, you know, the names of five different breeds as they would in normal - their normal socialization, they have a chance to see all 190-plus breeds that are there represented. So it's a great learning experience as well even if you’re there - especially if you're there.

Operator: And out next question comes from Matthew Ward from NBC Sports. Please proceed with your question.

Matthew Ward: David and John, thanks for the call.

John O'Hurley: Yes.

Matthew Ward: My question is that historically, over the last 16 years, have you seen any kind of breed do particularly well in certain events, whether it’d be the Frenchie you just mentioned?

John O'Hurley: Well, I'll go back, if there was one - there was a Scottie - several Scotties winning for a period of time there and it came out of one particular handler that - owner/handler. David, you can talk more about that. But I would say that Scottie and subsequent entries kind of monopolized the show for several years, am I right?

David Frei: You are right. I think that, generally speaking, terriers have great success in the show and that has to do a lot with their personality. A judge really needs to consider that terriers have different personalities that not every breed of dog is supposed to act like a terrier. Thank God. Don't write that. Don't tell (the jury people I said) that.

But they are - you know, they were bred to hunt for trouble, or bred to find the rats, and the mice, and other worm, and things like that, so they are on their toes looking for trouble all the time. They don't really care what the person on the end of the leash tells them too much, but they have to a little bit to be successful. But I think that puts them on their toes and being alert, and taking a nice picture for judges a lot, so that helps them be successful in the ring.

So - but, you know what, we got a lot of great dogs out there that are perfect examples of their breed, which may not include being on their toes and not paying attention to their humans. So we hope we can show that in the show.

Erika Lewis: Thanks, guys.

Operator: And our next question comes from Joanne Anderson from Babylon Beacon. Please proceed with your question.

Joanne Anderson: Hi, David. This is a question for you. Joanne, hi. How are you? Since it’s Thanksgiving and it's the all the American holiday, and a dog like a Golden Retriever has never won one of the big shows like Westminster or this, what impact do you think it would have if a Golden Retriever won as the Best in Show in the National Dog Show? I've been (inaudible).

David Frei: We have to get John out restoring calm in the streets again because…

Joanne Anderson: I think so.

David Frei: …the world loves Golden, the world loves Labs, they have not won the Best in Show at this show yet and neither at Westminster. So - but they’re being loved and they love their people, and they want to be there and be a part of it. If we can get a Golden or a Lab to win, we have to bring them home with us. So it would be great fun.

Joanne Anderson: Right. And the other part of my question is I see sandwich effect on Thanksgiving that I don't see on Easter, having the show in between the parade and the hunger factor, you know, where the people who are watching the dog show have knife and fork in their hand and they’re getting to close to banging on the table. So you're - they’re in that window that you have, where Easter is much more open. Do you think that will in the long run affect the size of the audience between the two holidays? Well, I think they don't have a parade leading up to Beverly Hills.

John O'Hurley: Yes, well, that’s a good - it's a good point. But it also - to its credit, it's a day - it’s kind of a family day of the year when there's not a lot of competition. We don't have a lot of sporting events to go against. We don't have a lot of other things going on.

Joanne Anderson: Right.

John O'Hurley: And it's still a family day when everybody is still kind of hanging around. So it's kind of a quite, neutral evening and I think it's a good spot for the show. But it's a brand new - this is brand new property for USA and I think they are going into an educational process of how do they embrace the show and give it the spotlight it deserves, right? It's kind of a - I think this is kind of a learning curve for everyone here.

But the show certainly, in terms of its content, held up to its promise. We were a little disappointed in the ratings, but I think the content is there. and I think if we approach it from a different standpoint in terms of promotional energy, then I think that the show will get the attention and the audience that it really deserves on that day.

Joanne Anderson: Okay, thank you very much. Have a good time. I appreciate it.

David Frei: Thanks, Joanne.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, to register for questions, please press the 1, followed by the 4 on your telephone.

Erika Lewis: Hi, guys, it’s Erika. While we're waiting on the queue, I just wanted to bring up there’s a question that I think John got a few days ago that I have actually never heard in like the 16 years we've done this, and that is what would you tell cat people about the dog show to encourage them to tune in?

David Frei: Cats are different than dogs, there was no argument here. Dogs want to live in our world. They want to be with us and go everywhere. We do things together. Cats, it's their world and they are just letting us in every once in a while and we love that. We love that there's a difference between the two and I think that’s what makes it fun, as you're watching the dog show, maybe have a cat, you say, “My cat would never do that, “ or (inaudible)…

John O'Hurley: Well, but, you know, the nice thing about it, David, is that the cats - the people have cats because they do the same things that the dogs do for them. They just happen to prefer that style of animal in their life, but they do the same thing.

And I always go back to just the notion of rounding off the edges of the human experience is that they make you kinder, gentler people that they - you know, they take that brittle side to of all us down and just round off the edges and make us, you know, a little more self-deprecating and realize that, you know, we're all just bozos on the bus.

David Frei: That’s good. I like it. I use that as my own somewhere. Nicely said.

Erika Lewis: And could you both tell us a little bit about your own dogs at home? I know, John, you have a new addition to the family.

John O'Hurley: Well, we do and I love to talk about it too because we've been blessed with some really great purebreds. We have Cavalier King Charles named Sadie and a wonderful little Havanese name Lucy, and they’re about 10 years old. And as you would imagine, over 10 years and those styles or those of types of breeds, they tend to get a little bit sedentary, and they find their little spots during the day and they kind of nap together, and they kind of walk around together, and they kind of just, you know, move at a very kind of sedentary type of lifestyle.

Well, enter a little 3-month-old rescue dog that I found at the St. - when they open again the St. Louis Humane Society, a huge, beautiful facility this year out there and I was doing the press event out there in the opening of this beautiful facility.

And I said, “I really should have a dog in my arms while I'm speaking to the press. And so I went in the back of the Humane Society there into the shelter and I found this dog. And again, you don't find dogs, they find you. And there was like two people walking into a bar and their head snapping, you know, towards each other. And I have walked over and saw this rust-colored (Toto) style dog and it was a combination of a Yorkie, a Pomeranian and a pug, believe it or not.

And this dog just had an energy and a look in its eye like I have never seen, and so I took this dog into my arms. When I delivered the opening address there in front of the press, while I'm there holding the dog, it is continuing to burrow inside of my jacket. And every time it burrows in further, the audience of 400 there kept going, “Ah, ah, ah,” you know.

So, finally, when I finished - as I finished my remarks, there were two little legs sticking out in the end of the tail. It had buried its way all the way under my arm. And so I pulled my lapel open and I said, “Who wants to come to Beverly Hills?” So that’s the only time that I have ever done that in my life and so we rescued a wonderful, wonderful little dog, and I tell you it has changed the energy of our entire household.

And I'll tell why, as David just said that, you know, terriers own the ground and they are a different sort of dog. Well, she has been the Marine Drill Sergeant For these two sedentary family members, the other two dogs. And I'll tell you she is - every time the other dogs hit the ground, she is on top of them wrestling and flipping them over and it's been just the most - it has changed their lives physically.

They are exercised by this little dog in a way that I've never seen before. So it's been such a wonderful, wonderful addition to our house and such a surprise and the fact that it has just changed the energy totally.

David Frei: That’s great. It's very nice. My dogs, Angel and Grace, now we moved back to the Oregon Coast after living in New York for 14 years, so we live a block off the beach and they like the beach life, there’s no question.

Grace is 8 and a half, and our Brittany. She loves running the beach. And Angel, my Cavalier, she takes a lot more steps to run the beach than Grace does, but she’s 10 and a half now. They love the life there and as I always say on our dogs, taking project with Purina, I thank my dogs everyday for letting me be the guy on the other end of the leash because they change my life every single day. I'm happy to have them as part of that.

John O'Hurley: You know, it might be a nice time to bring up the fact that Purina this year is going to be doing a wonderful thing. Erika, you can actually fill in the details of it. But, you know, not only there’s a great property and human toll in the disasters that we had earlier in the year, the weather, these two great - three great hurricanes that have come through. But there was a huge, huge animal toll as well.

And Purina wants to do everything they possibly can to just aid them in and so they are going to be contributing a large amount of money based on the social media that has contributed during the show. Erika, can you talk a little more about that specifically, you know, to address that they can talk about?

Erika Lewis: Yes, absolutely. So Purina is inviting pet owners across the country to share what makes their pet the best one for them. And so if you tag at Purina and use the #dogthanking on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, any time from now through the 26th, Purina will donate $1 to an organization called and they provide relief for people and pets in areas affected by the hurricanes that happened recently. So it's a really great initiative that they are doing for us.

And I think we are just about out of time. I don't believe we have any more questions in the queue, so I'm going to let you gentlemen go. I want to thank David and John for their time today, and we hope that you all tune in to the National Dog Show Presented By Purina on Thanksgiving Day. Thank you very much.

David Frei: Thank you, everybody.

John O'Hurley: Thank you, David, nice to be with you.

Operator: Thank you. Thank you.

David Frei: Okay, John, we'll talk soon.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines. Have a great day.


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