Best In Show Daily’s Leah Bertagnolli sat down with David Frei to talk about the great success of Thanksgiving’s National Dog Show presented by Purina, and NBC / USA Network’s plans to extend the formula to a new venture, the Beverly Hills Dog Show presented by Purina next Easter.

BISD:  Wow, great ratings story, huge numbers for the National Dog Show presented by Purina on NBC on Thanksgiving Day. Record Nielsen ratings, a total audience of 26.9 million, awesome. Congratulations!

DAVID FREI:  Once again, as has been the case for the past 15 years, a lot of people work very hard to make the show a success and I am proud to be a part of that team.

BISD:  And now, what’s the next chapter?

DAVID:  Last February, after my 27th and final Westminster telecast, that great dog show judge, Horace Greeley, told me: “Go West, young man. And take the dogs with you.” And now, at last, I can share just what he had in mind.

BISD:  Something for us in the West?

DAVID:  Yes, how about that, the Left Coast is getting its own dog show on television: “The Beverly Hills Dog Show presented by Purina” on USA Network, a two-hour entertainment special to air this spring on Easter night, April 16. A prime time repeat on NBC a week later is a bonus for Beverly Hills and dog fans everywhere.

BISD:  And you have moved West yourself, just in time for this.

DAVID:  Very exciting career move for me, if you will, and I get to commute from my new home on the North Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach, to Beverly Hills for the job.

BISD:  Tell us about it.     

DAVID:  Well, as you might expect from Beverly Hills, this show comes with red carpets, palm trees and celebrities. For years, I have always said that the dogs are the stars of our events, and they still will be, with a fashion-show style runway for Best In Show competition for the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills. But this time the dogs might have to share the marquee a bit as we work in the locals, with stars from NBCUniversal’s television hits expected to be on hand. 

BISD: And for you?

DAVID: I am going to keep doing what I do. The messages are going to be the same ones that I have shared wherever I have gone: a celebration of all the dogs in our world, responsible ownership for all of those dogs, and the history and the role of purebred dogs in all of this. Not at the expense of non-purebreds, but in a way that makes it a better world for all of them. If you have been with me for those 27 years of Westminster and 15 years of the National Dog Show / Kennel Club of Philadelphia, with a few other shows mixed in and a ton of media appearances connected to each, you know of what I speak.

BISD: How did this all come about?

DAVID: It was not a particularly well-kept secret, as talk about the negotiations between the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills and NBC surfaced at Westminster time last February as USA/NBC worked the last year of their WKC contract. After all the new contracts were signed, KCBH joined established East Coast icons National Dog Show presented by Purina (Philadelphia) on NBC in November, the AKC National Championship (Orlando) now on the Hallmark Channel in January, and Westminster KC (New York) on Fox Sports1 in February.

BISD: And why Kennel Club of Beverly Hills?

DAVID:  The Beverly Hills Show can certainly be positioned as a perfect partner for the National Dog Show, and gives NBC/USA an enviable TV dog show brace. To accommodate the telecast, KCBH moved its date from June to March 4-5 for back-to-backs, and changed its venue from Long Beach to the Fairplex in Pomona (also the home of the vaunted Mission Circuit later in the spring). The Easter telecast will be produced from the Saturday show.

BISD: Sounds similar to the National Dog Show.

DAVID:  Yes, as an entertainment special on a family holiday, Beverly Hills will be similar to the greatly successful format that NBC uses for the National Dog Show, including the hosts, two West Coast guys — Beverly Hills resident and celebrity in his own right, John O’Hurley, and new Cannon Beach, Oregon, resident and dog guy, David Frei, a celebrity in his own mind (laughs). And we will have Mary Carillo working backstage, with Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir bringing their talents and enthusiasm, too, just like with the National Dog Show.

BISD: Sounds great!

DAVID: Plus, the deal includes the NBC production team of Emmy Award winning people, many of whom produced Westminster and the National Dog Show for more than 40 combined shows in the past 27 years (and most of the telecasts of the Olympic Games in that time as well).

BISD: A successful formula.

DAVID: We’re not done: Add in Carson International, the production company that stages the National Dog Show and the Incredible Dog Challenge; the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, with President Wayne Ferguson and members offering their support and experience; and of course, the support of the American Kennel Club, all of whom makes for a pretty attractive formula for that celebration of the dogs in our lives. And here is a nice bonus: Wayne Ferguson will be providing the in-house PA comments for Beverly Hills, just as he does for the National Dog Show. Those comments will accompany the streaming video of the individual breeds in the group, all of them being shown online.

BISD: That all sounds great!

DAVID: As I said at the beginning, it is a great team and I hope that we are doing the dog show world proud with our continuing theme of a great celebration of the dogs in our lives.