HOLLYWOOD — One of Hollywood’s most iconic studios has gotten a facelift, replacing its familiar roaring lion logo with a new feline face.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has used “Leo the Lion” as its mascot since the early 20th century merger between three production houses that vaulted the new company into Hollywood’s “big five” studios.
Now 97 years later, Leo has been replaced by a tiger — a Buddinese tiger, to be exact.
“While Leo has served us well for almost a century and audiences have come to love his iconic roar, we felt it was time for something more modern, more hip, to connect with younger audiences,” studio head Marcus Mayer told Variety. “When someone floated Buddy’s name during a brainstorming session with our PR people, it seemed like a no-brainer.”
While Leo’s roar was actually sampled from a tiger and overdubbed in sync with the lion opening his mouth — a little-known piece of cinema trivia — the new logo and title card will feature both Buddy the Cat’s famous likeness as well as his blood-curdling roar.
“The first time I heard Buddy’s roar, I got goosebumps and I almost shat myself,” admitted sound man Mark Mangini, who created the 1980s update of the MGM logo and the 2001 rebrand featuring Buddy. “I knew we had to convey that kind of power and ferocity for our brand by associating it with Buddy.”
Neither MGM nor Buddy’s representatives would comment on compensation for the world famous tabby cat, but a source close to the deal said it was worth “in the seven figures of wet food cans,” presumably all or most of it turkey, the ferocious cat’s preferred meal and currency. The deal would vault Buddy into the top 50 most wealthy cats in the world, with the majority of his wealth held in turkey-related assets.
Movie-going audiences are expected to see Buddy again late this summer with the highly-anticipated release of “Cat On Deck: A Little Buddy’s Bravery,” about a British ship’s cat named Simon who rallied the crew of the HMS Amethyst in 1949 after it was nearly sunk by a volley from a Chinese Liberation Army gun battery.
Army of the Dead, the long-awaited post-apocalyptic heist movie from director Zack Snyder, has a simple premise: Las Vegas has been overrun by zombies and cordoned off behind massive corrugated steel walls, becoming a kingdom for the undead who are ruled by a handful of intelligent and incredibly dangerous “alpha zombies.”
A Japanese businessman (Hiroyuki Sanada) approaches a famed zombie killer (Dave Bautista) and tells him he’s got $200 million in a vault inside one of the now-inaccessible casinos. If Bautista and his team can fight their way in and get the money, half of it is theirs to keep.
The catch? They have a little more than a day until the US government plans to drop a low-yield tactical nuke on the city to wipe out the zombie plague.
Bautista and his crew hire a coyote (French actress Nora Arnezeder) to get them inside the city, and as they make their way toward the Las Vegas strip, they hear a blood-curdling roar. A four-legged figure approaches, obscured by dust, smoke and the ruins of abandoned cars, until it climbs on top of one of the vehicles and we see it properly for the first time — it’s a pissed-off zombified white tiger!
“Valentine,” Arnezeder says, turning to her huddled companions. “One of Siegfried and Roy’s.”
The zombie tiger, she explains, patrols the outskirts of the zombie “kingdom,” making a light snack of anyone who ventures too close.
Later in the movie there’s a scene in which the alpha zombie leader rallies all of his undead — including Valentine — and sends them en masse toward the hotel where the protagonists are trying to crack the safe and get at the piles of cash inside.
Snyder makes a great show of the endless zombie hordes thundering toward the hotel with Valentine among them, and it looks like the big cat is going to lead the charge until he stops, yawns and settles down on the hood of a car for a nap.
Is there anything more feline than that?
As it turns out, Snyder and his team were looking for a big cat expert to help them nail the tiger’s signature gait and physical tics as they created the CGI felid, and the consultant who agreed to provide them with feedback was none other than Big Cat Rescue’s Carole Baskin. As Variety notes, production on the movie began long before Baskin became a household name with the release of Netflix’s Tiger King documentary.
Although the inclusion of a zombie tiger was a fun surprise, my all-time favorite tiger from zombie fiction is The Walking Dead’s Shiva. She’s got a compelling backstory: The character Ezekiel was a zookeeper before the apocalypse and, realizing no one was tending to the animals as the world was collapsing, he risked his life to get back to the zoo and feed the trapped creatures.
When he got there, Shiva was so malnourished and hungry that her gratitude for Ezekiel’s intervention was obvious. Gambling that the powerful tigress — whom he’d taken care of for years — wasn’t going to hurt him, Ezekiel opened her enclosure to set her free. But rather than run off on her own, Shiva decided to stay with her human friend, and the two became inseparable as the world ended.
While Valentine was just another zombie, Shiva fought the undead, and she was badass. The show also earned praise from animal rights groups after opting for CGI instead of using a real tiger. The special effects team responsible for Shiva did such a fantastic job that viewers were convinced she was the real deal.
Only one of those kaiju — Japanese for “strange beast,” aka the giant monsters of the kaiju genre of film — is so powerful he wades through the city nonchalantly, completely indifferent to the carnage around him.
Unused Audio Commentary for The Big Lebowski, 20th anniversary Blu-ray special edition with 32 seconds of extra footage, featuring Buddy the Cat and his human, Big Buddy.
Big Buddy the Human: Hello and thanks for joining us on this special commentary track for one of the most beloved cult films of the past quarter century.
Little Buddy the Cat: The Big Lebowski!
Big Buddy: Yep. There’s a Big Lebowski and a Little Lebowski, just like I’m Big Buddy and you’re Little Buddy.
Little Buddy: Let me guess: The Little Lebowski is the more awesome of the two, and he’s the hero of the story?
Big Buddy: That’s correct. Although in this movie he’s referred to as “The Dude” by anyone who knows him, just like you’re “The Jerk” to anyone who knows you. Now we see the opening shots of a supermarket as the Dude shops for a pint of milk. This movie is set in the 1990s. George Bush is on the TV warning Saddam Hussein: “This aggression will not stand!”
Little Buddy: No, it will not!
Big Buddy: I love this part. The Dude doesn’t even get his foot in the door of his home before these thugs grab him. They’re dunking his head in the toilet bowl.
Little Buddy: His litter box! Oh that’s nasty.
Big Buddy: They want money. They keep saying “Where’s the money, Lebowski?” as they dunk his face into the toilet. And now probably the most pivotal moment in the movie…the second thug pees on The Dude’s rug.
Little Buddy: Unbelievable! Who would do something like that? Who would pee on a rug? Certainly not I.
Big Buddy: Says the rug-pee-er.
Little Buddy: I am not!
Big Buddy: Please. Your kind are notorious for pissing all over rugs. It’s like a national pastime with you people.
Little Buddy: ‘You people’? ‘Your kind’? That’s so racialist!
Big Buddy: You’re a cat, you can’t be the victim of racism.
Little Buddy: We’re not here to talk about me peeing on rugs. We’re here to talk about thugs peeing on The Dude’s rug. Why does The Dude owe them money?
Big Buddy: He doesn’t. That’s the whole point. These thugs have the wrong Lebowski.
Little Buddy: So they peed on the wrong Lebowski’s rug? That rug really tied the room together! Please tell me The Dude gets a good rug to replace the one that’s been peed on.
Big Buddy: That’s the plot of this movie. One man’s relentless search for a perfect rug to tie the room together and replace the rug that’s been peed on.
Little Buddy: I like it already! What’s this?
Big Buddy: This is a bowling alley, where people play a game called bowling…
Little Buddy: Are they…?
Big Buddy: Yes.
Little Buddy: Hold on, hold on! You’re telling me humans play a game in which the object is to swipe things off a flat surface?!
Big Buddy: That’s correct.
Little Buddy: And you never thought to tell me this? You know how much I love swiping things off flat surfaces!
Big Buddy: I never really thought of it that way, but I suppose you would like…
Little Buddy: This is vital information! When can we go?!?
Big Buddy: Well how about we watch the movie first? I promise there’s a ton of bowling in it for you to get your vicarious thrills. Then we can talk about going bowling.
Little Buddy: Deal. This is gonna be so much fun!
Big Buddy: Okay. So we get this establishing shot of synchronized bowlers, and now we meet the rest of our heroes — The Dude’s friends, Walter and Donnie.
Little Buddy: Walter is upset about something. He doesn’t roll on Shabbos.
Big Buddy: No, he does not.
Big Buddy: So as The Dude tells them the story about the desecrated rug, it’s Walter’s idea to confront the Big Lebowski to get compensation. After all, those thugs were looking for him, not The Dude. The Dude takes Walter’s advice and goes to speak to The Big Lebowski.
Little Buddy: Who’s this guy?
Big Buddy: That’s Brandt, the Big Lebowski’s Butler.
Little Buddy: Ah. His servant, like you are for me.
Big Buddy: Not exactly. Brandt shows The Dude around, tells him about the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, and introduces him to The Big Lebowski himself.
Little Buddy: This guy is the Big Lebowski?
Big Buddy: Yep.
Little Buddy: I was expecting a much bigger Lebowski.
Big Buddy: Well I suppose “The Slightly Larger Lebowski” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Little Buddy: The Big Lebowski doesn’t seem very receptive to The Dude’s argument.
Big Buddy: That’s putting it mildly. He thinks The Dude is a joint-smoking deadbeat.
Little Buddy: That’s because The Dude is a joint-smoking deadbeat. It looks like a wonderful life. Catnip, naps and food.
Big Buddy: How is that different from your daily existence?
Little Buddy: It’s not, which is why I love The Dude. Speaking of, where’s the nip?
Big Buddy: You want it now? Seriously?
Little Buddy: Gimme, gimme! I feel like I should be on The Dude’s wavelength when I watch this movie. Thanks, amigo!
Big Buddy: Okay. So I like how The Dude isn’t dissuaded. The Big Lebowski is screaming at him, refusing to compensate him for his rug, and does that stop him? No! He just leaves and tells Brandt: “The old man told me to take any rug in the house.”
Little Buddy: Who’s this lady painting her toes?
Big Buddy: That’s Bunny Lebowski, the Big Lebowski’s trophy wife.
Little Buddy: She’s asking The Dude to blow on her toes, and he does, but she says he has to pay $1,000 if he wants her to blow his toes. That hardly seems fair.
Big Buddy: She’s not offering to blow on his toes, she’s…ah, nevermind. You wouldn’t understand.
Little Buddy: Why?
Big Buddy: Because you’re a cat.
Little Buddy: Racialist!
Big Buddy: A neutered cat.
Little Buddy: What’s noodured?
Big Buddy: Nevermind. The Dude tells Bunny he’s going to find an ATM, but now we’re back at the bowling alley with Walter and Donny.
Little Buddy: Is that a dog in a carrier?
Big Buddy: Yes.
Little Buddy: That’s absurd! Who brings a dumb animal bowling? Especially a dumb animal who most certainly does not appreciate the finer things in life, like swiping objects off flat surfaces.
(ON SCREEN) WALTER: “What do you mean “brought it bowling”? I didn’t rent it shoes. I’m not buying it a fucking beer. He’s not gonna take your fucking turn, Dude.”
Little Buddy: See? The Dude and I think alike. Whoah! A gun! Walter has a gun! What’s he doing?
Big Buddy: He’s threatening Smokey, another bowler. He says Smokey was over the line when he bowled.
Little Buddy: Oh. Then why not just shoot him? Mark it zero!
Big Buddy: Smokey marks it zero.
Little Buddy: Hell yeah.
Big Buddy: Walter and The Dude gotta bounce quick, one of the managers is calling the cops.
Little Buddy: *yawn* What for?
Big Buddy: For pulling a gun during a game of bowling, little guy! You can’t just do that to people. Oh, I love this part when they walk to the car and argue…
Big Buddy: Bud?
Big Buddy: Buddy, wake up!
Big Buddy: I knew it. Okay, that’s all for today, folks, Buddy is in a catnip coma and I don’t think he’s waking up any time soon. Join us next time for Part II of Unused Audio Commentary: The Big Lebowski! Thanks for rolling with us on Shabbos.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.