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Local police — and dogs — get cameo on network TV show

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Posted on March 7, 2013 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



merkelanddog3782.jpg
VERGENNES POLICE CHIEF George Merkel and his dog, Akido, shown here, along with Vermont State Police Sgt. Eugene Duplissis and his canine, Argus, and Vergennes detective Jason Ouellette went to New York City to appear on an episode of the new CBS TV show “Golden Boy.” Independent photo/John McCright

NEW YORK CITY — Three local police officers and two police canines are set to make cameos on an episode of “Golden Boy,” a new CBS television show that made its network debut on Feb. 26 and will next be seen this Friday at 9 p.m.

Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel and his dog, Akido; Vermont State Police Sergeant Eugene Duplissis and his canine, Argus; and Vergennes detective Jason Ouellette were all invited to New York City in October to film brief appearances in the show.

Merkel said the invites came courtesy of retired N.Y.P.D. detective Jimmy Bodnar, whom he met back in 2006 and cooperated with on a murder case. Merkel, then with the Middlebury force, was investigating a drug case in Middlebury that turned out to be related to a drive-by shooting in New York, and the cooperative effort eventually resulted in an arrest in New Jersey.

After that investigation, the two stayed in touch. Bodnar took medical retirement and became a television consultant, and now works on two other CBS shows, “Blue Bloods” and “Elementary.” In October, Bodnar called Merkel and said “Golden Boy” needed canines who could bark on command for what will be its 10th episode, and Merkel, Duplissis and Ouellette and the dogs all went down for a two-night stay.

Merkel said it was a great experience, both in seeing how a TV show is put together and in how the Vermonters were welcomed by the production crew.

“It was amazing to me how well we were treated,” Merkel said. “They treated us like we were the stars.”

Truthfully, Merkel said, Akido and Argus were the main attractions: The officers received $250 each and meals for their appearances, while the dogs earned $500 apiece, plus plenty of treats.

“They were paid better than we were,” Merkel said.

And while the show’s crew and cast, including stars Theo James and Chi McBride, asked a lot of questions of the Vermont officers, Merkel said the canines drew the most attention, especially when Merkel and Duplissis demonstrated the dogs’ law enforcement skills.

“The dogs were the rock stars,” Merkel said. “They should have had their own tent.”

According to imdb.com, “Golden Boy”tells the story of “the meteoric rise of an ambitious cop who becomes the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City, and the high personal and professional cost he pays to achieve it. As he’s interviewed for a story about his career, Walter William Clark Jr. (played by James) flashes back on his hard-fought journey from street kid to the most powerful man in law enforcement.”

The show’s move to Fridays at 9 p.m. is expected to be a permanent shift.

In the episode the Vermonters filmed in October, Merkel said that Duplissis and Ouellette, dressed as members of New York’s finest, will have the first scene, set in an amusement park. They and Argus will be walking with James and co-star Chi McBride when word comes of a discovery.

The scene then shifts to tree roots next to a bay, and that’s where Merkel and Akido come in. Akido has sniffed out a sock in the tree roots that is a clue in a child kidnapping case, Merkel said, and he and the Vergennes police canine get their camera time.

“Kido is the only one who’s got a speaking part,” he said. “That’s our whole claim to fame.”

Of course, ratings will determine if “Golden Boy” stays on the air long enough for the local officers to get on national TV — some network shows, especially this season, have been axed swiftly if they don’t catch on with viewers.

Merkel is realistic, but said the trip was well worth it whether the show is a hit or not.

“The cannon will go off, and I hope a flag doesn’t come out,” he said. “Regardless, it was a nice opportunity.”

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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