|John and Jack McCoy were in Hollywood for the premiere of Doggity Dog last year. (Doggity Diner Inc.)|
Son’s idea launches canine cartoon chef
Even though it happened almost five years ago, Hingham resident John McCoy can recall the day that changed his life as if it happened this morning.
McCoy was enjoying one of his few days off from both his law practice and his job as a law professor at Suffolk University when his then 5-year-old son Jack introduced him to what would soon become a beloved television character: Doggity Dog.
Jack explained that the stuffed animal was a chef, and the notion sparked an idea with McCoy.
“I started thinking, ‘There are no cooking shows for kids,’ and so Jack and I started brainstorming . . . there will be a guy in a dog suit, and we’ll do it like a Barney thing, and it will be cost-effective,’’ McCoy said.
“You start telling people about it, and as opposed to saying ‘that’s silly,’ I started getting reactions that that’s a good idea . . . it just started developing.’’
The idea evolved into an animation short about high-quality cooking. A short time later, McCoy met Barbara Kirshner, who helped develop the Twix bar, and the two began networking extensively to bring a team into play.
Eventually, Klasky-Csupo, a Hollywood-based multimedia entertainment production company responsible for such programs as “Rugrats,’’ “Real Monsters,’’ and “The Simpsons,’’ brought even more people on board, including executive producer John Andrews (“Beavis and Butthead’’), producer Patty Jausoro (“Curious George’’), designer Max Micelli (“Rugrats’’), writer Eric Trueheart (“Invader Zim’’), musician J. Walter Hawkes, (“Wonder Pets’’), and animator Sean Nadeau.
The process would take over four years, and a daunting number of “no’s’’ from networks such as Cartoon Network, Nick Jr., PBS Kids, and Sesame Workshop, before Sprout finally picked up the idea.
“It was a very long process. Even though I went to film school, I wasn’t in children’s television, and I had to go down the yellow brick road and get the right people to work with,’’ McCoy said. “It’s a strange journey. You’re told you need this and that, and we kept going down and collecting people.’’
In 2010, Doggity received an endorsement from US Surgeon General Richard Carmona for its focus on healthy eating. With that backing, the dream became full reality as the Doggity segment landed a spot on the Sprout network’s “Noodle and Doodle’’ program.
The idea is to create healthy, fun recipes for kids, each of which surrounds a theme of the episode. If Doggity is having astronaut guests, for example, he’ll make space waffles.
In the animated program, the dogs prepare everything, and recipes are available for parents and kids online.
Now in its second season, Doggity’s is more successful than ever - the show this season has 26 episodes, which air Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Bix Pix Entertainment has taken over producing the show, and McCoy will be the show’s writer and executive producer, with Dara Monahan serving as co-writer. Kirshner has also come back as culinary developer for a second season, along with the original cast.
Although McCoy and his wife Michele’s son Jack is now almost 10, he’s still proud of his dad for bringing his inkling of an idea into a fruitful TV show. He’s now moved on to programs for older kids, but the family’s 6-year-old daughter Yulia loves the show and watches it often, McCoy said.
“It resonated with kids because . . . it came from a [kid],’’ McCoy said. “Kids have a lot more to offer than parents really understand. I thank God every day that I didn’t just ignore him. . . . It was a life-changing moment.’’
Despite everything it has accomplished, McCoy still has bigger hopes for Doggity.
“It’s great that it’s on TV, that it’s being picked up for a second season, but I want Doggity’s as its own show,’’ he said.
In the meantime, McCoy is still practicing law and still teaching at Suffolk. This television show is just one component to what he termed “compartmentalized insanity,’’ and he’s taking it just one day at a time.
“The experience of developing the show and producing, and in season one, managing every aspect of it where I was responsible for doing biweekly budgets, making sure all the contracts were in place. . . . But today I’m a lawyer, tomorrow I’m a professor, you put hats on,’’ he said. “It’s stressful, but it’s kind of cool.’’
Doggity can be seen on the Sprout network on cable TV. For more information, visit www.sproutonline.com/noodle-and-doodle/doggity/.