Is that a real emu in Liberty Mutual’s TV ads

You have questions. I have some answers.

Is the emu in that insurance commercial real or CGI?

The “LiMu Emu,” featured in ads for Liberty Mutual Insurance, has been a big hit for the company, which has gotten requests for emu-themed merchandise and has plans for more emu commercials later this summer. As for how the emu appears in the ads, here’s the word from Jenna Lebel, vice president, brand and integrated marketing for the company: “LiMu Emu is a mix of a real bird and CGI. Live emus were used during the initial shoot on set. The final images of the emu in the commercials are a blend of footage captured from the live emus and our digitally created emu. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (Liberty Mutual’s advertising agency of record) collaborated with The Mill LA, a creative technology and visual effects studio, to bring LiMu Emu to life. For the commercials, the team created a digital model based on the live emu, which was used to supplement the footage.”

A lot of my friends loved watching the new TV show “The Village” and now we hear it was canceled! It was such a nice show about the people in a building and how their lives entwined with each other. Why was it canceled?

The ratings just were not good enough for NBC. While the show appeared likely to appeal to viewers of the NBC hit “This Is Us,” it “got off to a slow ratings start” and did not really improve, Deadline.com reported. TVLine.com added that even the early numbers faded when the show had to stand on its own, without lead-in help from other, more established shows.

Will “Power” and “Outlander” on Starz be coming back? Why do they take so long between seasons?

“Power” will be back on Aug. 25 for its sixth season, dubbed “the final betrayal” as it wraps up the series. Two more seasons of “Outlander,” the fifth and sixth, have been ordered but I have not seen an airdate for its return. Shows these days do not always follow what we older TV viewers saw as routine schedules. Long gaps between seasons are not unusual, especially when the shows involve big stars with other commitments, elaborate locations, methodical writers and other challenges — or when programmers want to spread out the goodies in their lineups.

I was wondering if the TV show “Finder of Lost Loves” is available in DVD.

“Finder of Lost Loves” starred Tony Franciosa as a man devoted to reuniting loved ones; the cast also included Deborah Adair and Anne Jeffreys. It lasted one season in 1984-85.

But … I do not know of an authorized release of the show on DVD. There are some episodes available on YouTube, however.

Related Stories

Who Is The Actor Who Plays Doug In The Liberty Mutual Commercials?

Doug and Emu Liberty Mutual

In 2019, Liberty Mutual launched a new advertising campaign featuring LiMu Emu and Doug, a "fictional dynamic duo are passionate about saving people from overpaying for one-size-fits-all insurance," as a press release described them. Based on the capers from classic buddy-cop TV shows , the two have now starred in a series of commercials that sometimes also feature a '70s-style vehicle and other props to evoke an earlier era. The ads are campy and fun, as you might expect, often thanks to the fact that emus will be emus, and there's a nostalgia factor that can't be denied.

The latest of these ads, featuring a Zoom-based conversation to reflect the times, was released Feb. 1, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday , so perhaps you'll get to see it during the big game. But watching these two characters together definitely brings up a few questions, including, "Who is that guy?" While the Australian ratite LiMu tends to steal the show because it is, after all, a giant flightless bird that most don't tend to see in their everyday lives, people certainly want to know more about his human half, too. 

Doug is played by actor David Hoffman

The face behind Doug's aviator sunglasses belongs to actor David Hoffman, who is no stranger to the Super Bowl scene, as he's been in a Bud Light and a Doritos commercial that aired during previous NFL championship games. He's also been seen in episodes of Bones , There's Johnny , and Modern Family and starred in the Comedy Central British-American sitcom I  Live with Models  from 2015 to 2017.

According to the Burlington Free Press , Hoffman and his wife, Jaime Kowal, moved to Vermont just before COVID-19 hit in early 2020. To keep himself occupied during the pandemic, Hoffman started producing a web series that currently has 40 episodes on his Breaking Through YouTube page, called George Washington Is Here to Help . He credits his Liberty Mutual gig as helping to provide him creative freedom by giving him an income through residual payments. "Instead of chasing paychecks and doing stuff I'm not proud of, now I can be way more selective and afford to do the George Washington series, which is one of my favorite things ever, and not worry about a paycheck," he said . 

His background, which includes a stint with  Groundlings Theatre & School , and his available work indicate that he's clearly drawn to humor, which may be one thing that appeals to him about the Liberty Mutual ads he stars in. If you want to know more about Hoffman, however, you might want to check out an interview he did with himself (as himself and as interviewer Peter Salazar) and posted to YouTube. It's by far the most popular video on his page, but you never know — if he keeps getting gigs like the Liberty Mutual ads, he might truly break through one of these days. 

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Photo showing "Limu Emu & Doug" from the LIberty Mutual Insurance commercials.

David Hoffman shares his famous acting role with an unpredictable emu — who’s more recognizable than his human partner with the mustache and sunglasses.

Hoffman plays Doug, the ’70s-era throwback in the popular, ubiquitous “Limu Emu & Doug” commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The ad campaign launched in March 2019 and has transformed the veteran actor into a rock star in the advertising world alongside the likes of “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy ( Paul Marcarelli ) or Flo (Stephanie Courtney), who promotes Progressive Insurance.

“Never once have I been recognized out on the street as Doug,” said Hoffman, who’s in his early 40s. “He looks like a character I’ve never played before.”

That was a deliberate choice on Hoffman’s part. The classically trained actor is an improv/sketch-comedy veteran (The Groundlings Main Company in LA) who played ex-jock writer Jim on Hulu’s “There’s… Johnny!” (2017).

He was coming off a two-season run on the UK sitcom “I Live With Models” when, just after Thanksgiving in 2018, his commercial agent called. “He said, ‘Would you ever do [an ad] campaign?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. You can get pigeonholed and it can get corny,'” Hoffman said. “I said, ‘Here are my parameters: it will be with a director I respect, something that I find funny and I don’t want to look like myself.’ He handed me his phone and said, ‘This is the last day they’re seeing people.'”

“They” turned out to be Liberty Mutual, who gave a brief description of Doug, but little else: “He’s partners with an emu and genuinely and earnestly wants to help people customize their car insurance with the help of this bird.”

“I disappeared and came back and had the realistic mustache and a Members Only jacket and said, ‘This is the guy,'” Hoffman said. “There was no physical description of [Doug]. The role didn’t call for a mustache; I just decided he should have a mustache.

“What hooked me was that he was earnest and trustworthy. I have a brand of comedy I like — I call it ‘Absurd Realism’ — and I think it’s just the funniest stuff there is. It plays as so grounded and real but its premise is absurd. Nobody [in the ads] is acting like there’s anything unusual about this guy riding in a car with an emu.”

And, if you’re wondering, Hoffman does very little in-person acting with Limu the emu. “There are three emus at each shoot and we always use the same three,” he said. “One who specializes in standing still, one who runs .. .we kind of change them out. We used them more on the very first shoot, but 90 percent of the time I’m by myself looking at a piece of tape [subbing for Limu]. They bring the emus out afterward and do an amazing job in post-production with CGI.

“They’re large and when they stick their necks up all the way they’re taller than me — like a dinosaur with talons,” he said. “They’re kind of intimidating, but at least, with me, they’re pretty gentle. At the first shoot one of them jumped up on a desk in a standing leap and got in my face, but I have no issues with wild animals.

“I’ve worked with children who are more difficult.”

Photo showing Nate Smith, David Hoffman (center) and Andrew Schulz in a scene from "There's...Johnny!" in 2017.

Now that Hoffman has starred in the ad campaign for two-and-a-half years, he said he does have some input into his on-screen alter-ego.

“I consider [the ads] to be a miniature series where it’s growing, and just like with anything the writers and actors get to know each other bette,” he said. “With the bumper and the Liberty [jingle] we’re down to 22 seconds for an ad, and with the ‘You only pay what you need’ tagline, now we’ve got 15 seconds to play with. Before the shoot we get together and look for fun stuff to do. They give me the freedom to improvise, but there’s not a lot of time. I just love the moments of silence, like at the barbecue [Doug to Limu: “Hot dog or chicken?…hot dog.”]

“We’re squeezing them in when we can.”

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COMMENTS

  1. Is that a real emu in Liberty Mutual’s TV ads

    The “LiMu Emu,” featured in ads for Liberty Mutual Insurance, has been a big hit for the company, which has gotten requests for emu-themed merchandise and has plans for more emu commercials ...

  2. Who Is The Actor Who Plays Doug In The Liberty Mutual

    Doug is played by actor David Hoffman. YouTube. The face behind Doug's aviator sunglasses belongs to actor David Hoffman, who is no stranger to the Super Bowl scene, as he's been in a Bud Light ...

  3. ‘Limu Emu & Doug’ actor on his newfound fame

    Updated Aug. 6, 2021, 6:42 p.m. ET. Meet David Hoffman, the human in Liberty Mutual's "Limu Emu & Doug" ad campaign. Courtesy of Liberty Mutual. David Hoffman shares his famous acting role with an ...