Hollywood tough town for cat

Hollywood tough town for cat

Kaia Yang, 1, and her mother Hannah, left, greet Vito Vincent, a 5-year-old ginger and white tabby, during a visit to The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, California, on March 19, 2012. Vito Vincent belongs to Michael LeCrichia, 42, who moved with the cat from New York in hopes that his pet will make it in Hollywood as an animal star.

LOS ANGELES — Poor Vito Vincent, who came to Hollywood chasing a dream.

He’s been in L.A. for nearly a year without landing a single acting gig.

Once he was homeless in New York. But before he came West last May, Vito was living a Cinderella story there.

His career was taking off. He’d appeared in print and TV ads. He’d been on a pilot, guest-starred on “The Colbert Report” and scored a small spot on “30 Rock.”

Even now, emails arrive with offers on the other coast. But here, nothing.

People all over town have Vito Vincent’s head shots. And whenever he’s out in public, he generates buzz.

When shoppers at The Grove spy him sitting on a patio or going up the glass steps at the Apple store, they stop what they’re doing to gaze, snap photos, try to touch him.

Still, Vito Vincent doesn’t have an agent. He can’t even get an audition.

Vito’s biggest acting role to date is Christiane Aman-purr.

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He played the feline version of the famed foreign correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” last year.

Stephen Colbert lifted him onto his desk and questioned him for two minutes. The lights were bright. The live audience of 150 was loud. People kept laughing as Colbert urged Vito to take a stand on the protests in Egypt.

Colbert pushed the cat to choose between two bowls of food, one marked “Democratic Uprising,” the other “Islamic Power Grab.” He tossed some food right at the animal, jiggled a laser pointer and waved around a colorful feathery toy. Vito didn’t flinch. He barely moved.

Try that with your average cat, says his stage father, Michael LeCrichia, who crouched under Colbert’s desk. Vito is a certified pet therapy animal, calm enough to visit with and be held by ailing strangers, LeCrichia said. But he also has great range — for a cat.

He walks confidently and rapidly on a leash. On command, he can come, spring from the ground to a higher spot and move or jump from Point A to Point B. He also knows how to ride an escalator.

He wasn’t born knowing, LeCrichia says. Just teaching him to walk on a leash took a year. At outdoor sessions almost every day, LeCrichia would squat behind his cat, urging him on, inch by inch.

One day LeCrichia read a New York Post article about pets getting into movies and on TV shows. It mentioned some local agencies. LeCrichia thought a serene cat would stand out. He began calling and writing, and finally got a face to face.

The women at All-Tame Animals on the Upper West Side were blunt. Vito was overweight. He was nearly 19 pounds, and had to get down below 15. He also needed to expand his skills by learning to come and to stay on a mark.

Once he did, said All-Tame’s office manager Sharon Halley, the tabby worked steadily. He has a look that is popular in ads, she said, and when she sent out his photos, he almost always was hired. Basic jobs, without a lot of extras, pay about $500 a day plus expenses, she said.

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