FX commissions US Wilfred pilot
“We don’t expect that the US version will adhere slavishly to the Australian one, however the partnership was carefully made, considering who would better retain the essence of Wilfred,” Renegade executive producer Joe Connor told Encore.
David Zuckerman (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Guy, American Dad) will serve as executive producer alongside US production company Prospect Park and Melbourne’s Renegade Films. Gann will serve as co-executive producer.
“We are fully aware of the fact that this will be an adaptation for American audiences,” explained Connor. “We made a brilliant Australian show for an Australian audience and we are confident that our American partners will deliver a brilliant American version that maintains the essential elements of the original.”
Connor said that the pilot was a compliment to the creators of Wilfred (Gann, Adam Zwar and Tony Rogers), because few Australian shows have been piloted for the American market. The original creators will be acknowledged; the pilot will be mainly written by Zuckerman, and Gann will contribute to the writing.
“This is quite a coup as I don’t think any other Australian show has managed to do that,” said Connor.
Wilfred was criticised by the mainstream media when the second series went to air earlier this year, questioning why government money (Film Victoria, Screen Australia) was funding a show about a gong-smoking dog, full of “profanity, full-frontal nudity and jokes about rape”. It still went on to be nominated for Most Outstanding Comedy Program at the Logies.
Producer Jenny Livingston said FX recognised “the strong subversive themes and narrative” of Wilfred, and anticipated adjustments to the series scenarios and dialogue.
“But it will still be our Wilfred,” she said.
Production will begin soon, but there is no date set for a decision about the future of US Wilfred beyond the pilot.
“Whether it becomes a series or not, well, fingers crossed, but with the fantastic credentials of those writing and producing in the US, we’d like to think that the odds are in its favour,” added Connor.
The last Australian show to be versioned in the US was Kath & Kim in 2008, starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair; disappointing ratings saw the first season cut down from 22 to 17 episodes, and it was eventually cancelled by NBC.