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‘Retrievers’ fetches net’s highest rating

Animal growls as its fourth original movie nabs a 1.89

NEW YORK — Animal Planet scored the best Nielsen ratings in its history with the original movie “The Retrievers” on Tuesday.

Michael Cascio, executive VP and G.M. of Animal Planet, said of the 1.89 household rating in cable homes for the movie: “This number exceeded our expectations. I joined the network only a month ago, but when I saw what we had I made sure that we showcased it and gave it a push,” highlighted by a stepped-up promotional budget.

“Retrievers” is the fourth original movie commissioned by Animal Planet, following an adaptation of Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” in 1999, “Trial of Old Drum” in 2000 and “Rain” earlier this year.

The success of “Retrievers” will definitely accelerate the development of more original movies, Cascio said, including pictures that could serve as pilots for proposed scripted series.

Widening the base

Animal Planet has yet to shoulder the expense of commissioning a scripted weekly series, but Cascio said his goal is “to widen the base of programming genres for our subscribers.” The network, launched in October 1996, reaches 71 million homes.

“Retrievers” focuses on a golden retriever that adopts a family that has moved from the city to a small town. Starring Mel Harris, Robert Hays, Robert Wagner and Betty White, the movie is from Tag Entertainment. Steve Austin is exec producer, Johnathan Bogner is supervising producer and Paul Schneider is the director.

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