Media Life: World’s tallest dog Gibson battling cancer

"Terminator's" Auburn link; "XXX" comeback in works; Placer County on TV
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Sad news coming out of Grass Valley. Or maybe a tail-wagging tale of hope and courage. Gibson, the Guinness Book of World Records-certified world’s tallest dog, has lost a leg to bone cancer. A frequent visitor to Auburn for events like the much-missed Friends of Placer County Animal Shelter’s Doggie Derby, the lanky Great Dane underwent surgery this past week to amputate his right front leg. Veterinarians say dogs can recover from removal of a leg and can adapt to the loss of a limb. The seven-foot-plus pooch – whose TV appearances have included “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” – returns to Grass Valley for recovery later this week. Owner Sandy Hall said she’s looking forward to continuing Gibson’s work as a certified therapy dog visiting burn units, Alzheimer’s care facilities and hospitals for children and the disabled. Hang in there, big fella. THE WRITE STUFF One of the first big blockbusters of the summer season, “Terminator Salvation” with Christian Bale, will explode on movie screens nationwide. And Jim Ferris, American River canyon proponent and Auburn Recreation District director, will be sticking around for the credits with more than a passing interest. His son, Michael Ferris has his name prominently displayed as one of two screenwriters getting an onscreen credit for the film. The younger Ferris teamed with longtime scriptwriting partner John Brancato to pen the initial treatment of the fourth bombastic installment of a franchise that looks to continue for now without the Gubernator in a major role. The two also were key screenwriters on 2003’s “Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines” so were able to keep the plot on track for a sequel set in a world that has experienced a machine-made nuclear holocaust. “XXX” COMEBACK Ferris the younger, who drops in on occasion to visit his dad, is at work now on development of a script for another franchise – this one with a legendary link to Auburn’s 730-foot-high Foresthill Bridge. The new movie would be “xXx – The Return of Xander Cage.” In the original 2002 “xXx,” director Rob Cohen utilized the bridge for a daring real-time stunt that saw a Corvette catapult off the span and its stunt driver parachute off in mid-flight. The stunt succeeded perfectly in one gutsy take and the footage provided a heart-stopping action scene to draw moviegoers into the story. Cohen and Diesel could be back onboard for the next installment. PLACER ON TV Speaking of Placer County on the screen – this time the small one – the Investigation Discovery channel’s “Escaped” program will have a local look May 25 when an episode called “Backcountry Blizzard” premieres. “Backcountry Blizzard” tells the true story of snowboarder Eric Lemarque, who survived a week in the wintry wild on a diet of pine nuts and tree bark after losing his way in an out-of-bounds area. While Lemarque’s gripping adventure occurred at Mammoth Mountain, the video crew found Placer County’s White Wolf acreage, next to Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, more to their liking. Footage was shot at the 400-acre White Wolf and on the Truckee River over five days, said Beverly Lewis, director of the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Commission Office. And Lemarque could share a story of survival with Gibson. He had two feet amputated from the ankles because of severe frostbite and resulting gangrene. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at