Revenge of Casper the cat among America's funniest home videos Film now competes for $100,000 TV prize

November 10, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

The revenge of Casper the cat has earned his owners $10,000.

Now, a video of the cat's ferocious beating of a stuffed Doberman pinscher is fighting Sunday for a $100,000 grand prize from "America's Funniest Home Videos."

"We used to have a Doberman that used to chase the cat, pounce on the cat and give the cat a hard time," said Casper's owner, Kathi Davis of Woodbine. "We'd give him [Casper] this stuffed Doberman, and he'd go crazy on it, attack it and take out his frustrations on it."

The piece -- taped by Ms. Davis and her husband, Jim, in 1986 -- won its first round during the ABC-TV show that aired Sunday. The couple submitted the tape when "Videos" started production in 1990.

"I could not believe it," Ms. Davis said of the $10,000 prize. "I still can't believe it. We just thought it was sort of cute and sent it in. All it cost was the price of the tape and the price of the stamps."

Steve Paskay, co-executive producer for "Videos," said one reason the piece made the initial cut was Casper's unaffected performance.

Producers view the tapes when they come in and select which ones to show the studio audience, which then chooses the top three. First-place winners proceed to a $100,000 round, three times a season.

"What stuck out was how genuine it [the tape] was," Mr. Paskay said. "The cat clearly hated this stuffed toy that represented the real dog."

Also, the piece needed very little editing. When Casper hit the toy, viewers could hear rapid punching sounds, much like those in a cartoon fight, he said.

"We often get a video and to make it funnier, we add music, sound effects or narration," Mr. Paskay said. "We didn't need it with this video. It was already very funny with its own audio."

The video sat in the show's studios for three years until the producers obtained other clips in the same genre, he said. Weekly shows are assembled from story summaries and still photos from all the videos that made the first cut.

When enough tapes came in that featured toys, Casper's battle was selected for air time, Ms. Davis said.

"We like to put this kind of clip in a package of similar videos to strengthen it," Mr. Paskay said. "If we played this straight, it wouldn't have as much power. We like to package them so it leads to a crescendo of laughter."

In addition to the money, the seven finalists also received two trips to Hollywood so they could be in the audience during filming of the $10,000 and the $100,000 shows.

Libin Zhang and Huafang Yi of Rockville also are competing for the $100,000 prize. In their video, the couple's 6-month-old son appears to put an elaborate maze of videocassettes set up like dominoes in motion to retrieve his stuffed bunny.

"To do a 22-minute show, it takes quite a long time," said Ms. Davis. "For the $100,000 show, we got there at 10 in the morning and didn't leave until 7 that night. There are lots of rewrites, editing and doing things again to make sure everything goes smoothly.

"We got a catered lunch and an opportunity to talk to [program host] Bob Saget and take pictures. They treat you real nice out there."

During down time, the studio provided tours of Hollywood Boulevard and the stars' homes, Ms. Davis said.

"We saw Ronald Reagan's home, Elizabeth Taylor's home and Madonna's tacky red and yellow house," she said with a laugh. "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

"The weather's great, the people are nice, but some of the people there are very unique."

As for the $10,000, Ms. Davis said she and her husband have already spent much of it on a television satellite dish.

"I'd like to get season tickets to the Orioles, but they're pretty hard to come by," she said. "Of course, we took the cat to the vet to make sure he was still healthy. We have to take care of our winner."

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