Buddy is the canine equal to Deion Sanders in "Air Bud 2"

As Tinseltown huddles to make more gridiron films, a little dog is leading them. In Disney’s “Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver” (which opens today), the former basketball-playing, now football-playing, pooch teaches his boy (Josh Framm) new tricks. Screenwriters Aaron Mendelsohn and Paul Tamasy say they were doggedly determined to get Bud into cleats. “We wanted to show the world that this was not just a one-trick doggie,” says Mendelsohn.

In the film, Framm’s mom has a new man in her life; it’s Air Bud, natch, who sniffs out the fact that the common ground between the kid and his mom’s boyfriend is football. So Bud passes the pigskin with his pal. “That Montana-Rice connection was what we were going for,” says Tamasy. There was even a “Brian’s Song”-type moment off screen: The demise from cancer last year of Buddy, the original Air Bud, required Disney to try a Hail Mary Pass with the sequel. Tamasy and Mendelsohn say several dogs had to be trained to do everything Buddy could do himself. (A total of five canines performed in the film, all “movie dogs.” One pup could catch, one could kick, one could tackle….) Says Tamasy: “Buddy was like the Deion Sanders of the animal world — he could do it all.”

Air Bud
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