Animal Planet adopts series

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Animal Planet has greenlighted a weekly primetime series based on pet-adoption Web site Petfinder.com, which the network acquired last year.

Similar to the site, "Petfinder" will aim to match families with pets — ranging from pythons to pigs to puppies — from local animal shelters. The 13-part hourlong series, set to debut in first-quarter 2008, will be co-hosted by wildlife expert Jarod Miller, who has appeared on such talk shows as "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Rachael Ray," and dog trainer Dina Zaphiris, who has schooled the dogs of Al Pacino, Bruce Willis and Nicolas Cage.

The co-hosts will help find the perfect match between animals and people by introducing them to "teacher pets" who have been adopted into other homes but are temporarily placed in the "Petfinder" family homes to help them find the pet that best fits their lifestyle.

"Petfinder" has gone into production in and around Los Angeles and is shot in high-def. It's produced by 3Ball Entertainment, with the company's J.D. Roth and Todd Nelson executive producing.

Marjorie Kaplan, the channel's GM, said the show will contain comedic and dramatic elements as it delves into the stories of the families looking for pets and the animals themselves.

"A TV show that helps pets find the right home and people find the right pet makes a lot of sense for our brand," she said, saying it will be a high-quality production. "The whole idea is that we're doing a show that is on Animal Planet but could be on broadcast TV. It's designed to compete with other entertainment options in primetime television."

Kaplan added that Petfinder.com has a "very strong user base" and that there are "lots of plans" to continue integrating the network and Web site.

Zaphiris is repped by Media Motion International. Miller is repped by N.S. Bienstock.
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