Australian actor and writer Jason Gann is set to remain in the doghouse with America’s FX Network – but in a good way.
His show Wilfred – where he plays a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking guy in a dog suit – has been given the greenlight for a second season of the US adaptation.
From the brains of Gann, Family Guy writer David Zuckerman among many others, the US adaptation– which premiered in June – draws about 5 million viewers per week, through both the main and encore screenings on the cable channel. It has since premiered on ELEVEN in Australia, to favourable reviews.
However, it was never all happy days for Gann and his Aussie team.
“Everyone was saying it wouldn’t go beyond a five minute film,” Renegade Films executive producer Joe Connor says of the 2002 Tropfest short, which netted two awards.
“We tried to sell the short film and the idea from the short film to the networks and it didn’t work.
“They all said ‘no it’s a short film – it’s a Tropfest single-joke film and it’ll never go anywhere’.”
But finally, multicultural broadcaster SBS – through the then-director of television and online content Matt Campbell – showed interest and the creatives – including Adam Zwar (co-creator, co-writer, actor), Tony Rogers (director) and Jenny Livingston (producer), groomed it into a half-hour series, with the first episode airing in 2007. It has since achieved cult status.
“So there we were from everyone saying it wouldn’t go beyond a five minute film – it’s now had two Australian series and now going into its second American series. So again, the confidence has paid off," says Melbourne-based Connor, who remains an executive producer on the US version alongside brother Ken.
Wilfred is a half-hour, live-action comedy about “Ryan” (played by Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood), an unlucky dweeb who resides firmly on struggle street, until he forms a unique friendship with “Wilfred” (Gann), his neighbour’s dog/dawg (you choose). Everyone else sees Wilfred as just a dog, but Ryan sees a crude and surly, yet irrepressibly brave and honest Australian bloke in a cheap dog suit.
“I think the show is doing so well because it’s such a good concept originally,” Connor says.
The 13-episode, first series run in the US finishes on September 8 and then it’ll be all systems go on season two.