No joke - Warren goat gets 15 minutes of fame

The Leidig family of Warren recently traveled to Chicago so a pygmy goat they own, named “Custer,” could have a role in the Showtime network show, “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. In the front row (from left) are Josh Leidig, Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, Alexis Leidig and Breanna Leidig, and in the back row (from left) are Bill Casey, the show’s animal wrangler; Leidig family friend Jolie Wariner, Kelly Leidig and Tim Leidig. Photo provided.
The Leidig family of Warren recently traveled to Chicago so a pygmy goat they own, named “Custer,” could have a role in the Showtime network show, “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. In the front row (from left) are Josh Leidig, Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, Alexis Leidig and Breanna Leidig, and in the back row (from left) are Bill Casey, the show’s animal wrangler; Leidig family friend Jolie Wariner, Kelly Leidig and Tim Leidig. Photo provided. Photo provided.

Add Custer the pygmy goat to the small list of stage and screen stars coming from Huntington County.

Custer, owned by the Tim Leidig family, of Warren, will appear this month in an episode of “Shameless,” a show on the Showtime network featuring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum.

Custer’s brief shot at stardom almost didn’t happen, however. In early September, the family received a call from a man located in Calilfornia. Not knowing the phone number, Kelly Leidig says she let the call go to voicemail. When she played the message back, the caller identified himself as the “props guy” on the television show “Shameless” and explained the show was looking for a gray pygmy goat for one of the episodes to be filmed in Chicago.

She was skeptical enough that she played the voicemail for her co-workers at Bolinger’s Warren Service and Supply, and while they, too, seemed skeptical, they encouraged Leidig it might be a great opportunity.

“I was sure it was a joke,” she noted.

That night, Leidig discussed the opportunity with her husband, Tim, and the next day, Tim called and found out the details. Apparently, show personnel found out about the Leidigs’ goats from their website, Backyardacre, and they called them and several other breeders from the Chicago area. They were looking for a gray pygmy goat that looked similar to a goat that had been in earlier scenes taped at their Los Angeles studio, Kelly Leidig related.

It was not cost effective to fly that goat to Chicago, so they were looking for one in the area. Tim Leidig sent the show a photo of Custer, who turned out to be a close match. Plans were made for the Leidigs and Custer to be in Chicago for filming on Oct. 21.

According to Kelly Leidig, Custer was a natural. Before the taping, the goat had to be taught to wear a diaper, because it would be riding in a car with several of the show’s actors, and that went easier than expected, she noted.

Tim, Kelly, Josh, Alexis and Breanna Leidig traveled to Chicago the night before the shoot. Theday  of the shoot, Custer was placed on the laps of four of the characters in the back seat of a Chevy Sonic, Kelly Leidig said. The scene was shot in four separate “loops” so they could shoot from the front view, back view and side views, Leidig said, with each “loop” taking about 30 to 40 minutes.

“The experience of that day was beyond anything we could have imagined,” Kelly Leidig noted. “We were welcomed with wide open arms from everyone on the set and from the actors and actresses in the scene.”

After each loop, the staff would rearrange the cameras and get set up for the next one. In between the loops, the Leidigs got to visit with not only the crew, but with Macy and Rossum as well.

“It was not only an exciting day, but one our whole family will remember for a long time,” Leidig said. “Who would ever think that doing something we really enjoy – raising pygmy goats – would bring this opportunity?”