(KGET) — Rebel Wilson’s life has gone to the dogs – and she could not be happier.
The Aussie actor is the host and executive producer of new ABC reality competition series “Pooch Perfect.” The eight-episode series– set to launch at 9 p.m. March 30 -showcases 10 of the best dog groomers in the country competing in a series of themed challenges.
Wilson has gained fame through television (“Super Fun Night”) and film (“Jojo Rabbit”) projects. But, she has dogs in her blood being a fourth-generation member in a family that shows dogs. It’s not just a family holiday as her great-grandmother started The Beagle Club of Australia
“Every weekend of my childhood up until I was, like, old enough to stay at home by myself I was going to dog shows,” Wilson says. “And my family’s business was a little yellow caravan that we traveled all around Australia to different dog shows. We’d sell dog grooming products mainly to all of the dog show-ers.
“So dogs have just been such a huge part of my life, and I guess people, kind of, don’t know that part. But I was personally a junior handler and went to so many dog shows all around the country and showed dogs and groomed dogs.”
Wilson says her mother – who is a renowned international all-breed dog show judge – was devastated when she opted not to continue the family legacy and cried when she heard her daughter planned to go into acting. Launching this series – that’s more about style more than show – let’s Wilson go back to her roots.
“Pooch Perfect” participants compete in the Immunity Puppertunity challenge where one team will earn immunity from elimination. In the Ultimutt Challenge showdown, the teams face off in a grooming transformation. The celebrity judges evaluating the efforts include Lisa Vanderpump, Jorge Bendersky and Dr. Callie Harris.
Along with being good entertainment, Dr. Harris – who provides support for veterinary teaching hospitals throughout the Southeast – is convinced the positive aspect of this reality show is that it will bring attention to the profession of grooming and showcase the creativity behind this.
Harris adds, “These are highly skilled and trained professionals that are applying the colors and the embellishments. So I know it’s going to be very inspiring to pet parents out there. But, I think it’s going to be also important for them to understand that this is a totally different level when it comes to grooming projects at home.”
Taking on the hosting duties of “Pooch Perfect” was easy for Wilson not only because of her history with dogs but because she’s always been a huge fan of reality TV. She’s approaching her duties as the host a little differently than other reality show ringmasters.
“I do try to bring the comedy in the show, which not a lot of hosts are trying to be behind the scenes – working out jokes,” Wilson says. “But, for me, I thought, with my skill set, I’m going to try to bring the comedy.
“I also do what’s called ‘dogography’ in the show, which is a new term that I invented where, basically, we dress the PAs (production assistants) up in dog costumes, and then I worked out little dances.”
The different approach was needed because there was no audience during the filming due to the COVID quarantine. She had to work in front of an audience made up of stuffed animals. Wilson admits that trying to keep the mood on the set light and upbeat was a real challenge but that just made her work harder.
“Pooch Perfect” is not only Wilson’s opportunity to show off her reality show skills for the first time but she also gets to cast a spotlight on the efforts she made over the past year to get healthier. The actress who was called “Fat Amy” in the “Pitch Perfect” movies has lost 60 pounds.
At least two contestants liked her new look as they asked Wilson to go on a date. She laughs and explains the twist in those invites is that it came from a mother and her son.
Wilson’s equally proud of the diversity of the series.
“I would just like to say on the positivity point – talking about ‘Pooch Perfect’ – is we are a show that 70% of our cast is on the LGBTQ spectrum,” Wilson says. “So in terms of inclusivity, I believe that our show is probably one of the most inclusive on network television.
“So that’s something that I’m really proud about and you’ll see evidence, for example, in Episode 3. We have the pride parade. It’s just a very, very inclusive show, our show.”
Getting the show on the air has made Wilson happy in a multitude of ways but the fact she’s spent her life around dogs and is now the host of the canine competition series has come at a price. Wilson is allergic to dogs.