News Column

Movie executives give back after puppy love experience

July 25, 2014

By Rod Guajardo, The Natchez Democrat, Miss.

July 26--NATCHEZ -- The director of "Get on Up" found more than just two-legged talent during his stay in Natchez.

Tate Taylor and his production partner John Norris also found a few four-legged friends. So when it came time to pick an organization to benefit from a Natchez premiere showing of the biographical James Brown movie, production officials said the Natchez-Adams Humane Society was a clear choice.

A red carpet event and sneak peak showing of the movie directed by Mississippian Tate Taylor will be hosted at 7 p.m. today at the Natchez Mall theater with all proceeds going toward the humane society.

Taylor and Norris became all too familiar with the animal overpopulation in Natchez shortly before filming started when they rescued a pit bull mix puppy on the side of the road.

Quinny was originally found between Natchez and Washington with a phone cord tied around her neck.

Norris and Taylor took Quinny into their home, but the puppy escaped shortly after and led the film executives on a chase from the Duncan Park golf course to the breakfast buffet at a local hotel and everywhere in between.

Quinny was eventually recovered and started getting the celebrity treatment to prepare her for a role in the movie.

Norris said the plan was to have Quinny be the house dog at all the scenes filmed at Nellie's, a bordello on North Rankin Street that burned in 1990 but was restored for the movie.

In the film, Nellie's is the house of Octavia Spencer, who plays Aunt Honey -- the woman who helped raise Brown.

But Norris said Quinny, unfortunately, never got her big Hollywood break.

Shortly after Norris and Taylor brought Quinny to their Church Hill house, the puppy dug a hole near the fence surrounding the property and ran two miles down the road to a neighbor's house.

"She wound up going to a farm down the road to play with a litter of puppies that had just been born six weeks earlier, and the momma did not take kindly to that," Norris said. "She got bit in her artery, and had passed by the time I got there."

Norris said the loss of Quinny was devastating.

"She had such a beautiful spirit, loved to play and was always a runner," Norris said.

The mood at the Church Hill house didn't stay somber too long as two stray dogs wandered onto their property shortly after Quinny died.

"We had people here working on the house, and they started feeding them sandwiches, and this mother and daughter just kept coming back," Norris said.

"We started training them, put them in the kennels, and they would just not leave."

The dogs quickly won a place into the hearts of Norris and Taylor.

But they saved room for one more four-legged friend who came into their lives.

"Shortly after that, this dog that all of our neighbors had known of came wandering up to the end of our driveway and was just nothing but skin and bones," Norris said. "Tate went over to him, and the dog just whimpered and fell into his arms."

Following an eight-week quarantine program, Benny the dog joined the family at the Church Hill residence, which has been full of animal excitement since.

"He runs and jumps with the girls, and they all just love each other," Norris said. "We started calling them Benny and the Jets."

Norris said his and Tate's experience with the dogs made them want to give back to the local organizations helping combat animal issues in the area.

"Our hope is to continue raising as much money as we can to help all the stray cats, dogs and animals around here," Norris said. "Just from this one movie, we got four dogs, and even though Quinny isn't with us anymore, her spirit will always be."

Norris and Taylor rescued another dog during filming of the Academy Award nominated film "The Help" and named it Greenwood after the city where the crews were filming.

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Source: Natchez Democrat, The (MS)

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