Why would someone who’s allergic to dogs want to host a grooming competition?
Because it’s in her blood, says Rebel Wilson.
“My great grandmother started the Beagle Club of Australia and every weekend of my childhood up until I was late enough to stay at home by myself I was going to dog shows,” the actress says.
Now, with “Pooch Perfect,” she’s keeping the family business alive.
In the series, pet stylists compete in a series of challenges, all leading up to the title and a cash prize.
Allergies aside, Wilson says it’s a great way to make her mother proud. “My mom was devastated when I chose not to continue the family legacy,” she explains. “She’s now a renowned international all-breed dog show judge.”
While Wilson doesn’t do any judging on the show, she does run the contestants through their paces and broker any disagreements among the judges – “Vanderpump Rules” star Lisa Vanderpump, veterinarian Dr. Callie Harris and celebrity dog groomer and author Jorge Bendersky.
“For me, it’s kind of coming full circle,” Wilson says.
In the eight episodes, dogs will have their fur colored, trimmed and styled.
“It’s lifting the veil off the profession of grooming and really showcasing and demonstrating the creativity behind this,” Harris says. “These are highly skilled and trained professionals who are applying the colors and the embellishments.” It’s not, she adds, something you want to try at home.
To be in the competition, Vanderpump adds, the dogs have to be in “tiptop condition. To see all these happy dogs pampered and loved, it was just such a wonderful experience for me.”
The dogs love the attention, Bendersky says, and they enjoy trotting down the dogwalk. “These are dogs that are attention-grabbers.”
Wilson says the ABC show also allows her to show off the changes she has made following a “year of health.”
Losing 60 pounds in a year, “I get to show off the new physique,” she says. “This is my primetime opportunity to just really put it out there.”
Wilson, the star of such films as “Pitch Perfect” and “Jojo Rabbit,” says she was even asked out by two contestants on the show. “The twist is that the contestants were related and they were actually mother and son.”
Because “Pooch Perfect” was shot during the coronavirus pandemic, Wilson didn’t have a studio audience to play to. Instead, she toyed with stuffed animals. “It was a challenge,” she says. “I have a lot of respect for everybody who works in reality (television) because it’s really difficult.”
Unlike, say, the host of “The Bachelor,” Wilson saw the job as a way to show viewers life behind the scenes and reveal how she works out a joke. “With my skill set, I’m going to try to bring the comedy. I also do what’s called ‘dogography,’ which is, basically, we dress the PA’s (production assistants) in dog costumes and then I worked out little dances.”
To ensure no dogs were harmed during the making of the series, producers created a dog playground.
“It’s got treats galore,” Wilson says. “It’s got all these activities for the dogs and that’s where the dogs would all hang out. It was their literal green room at the studios where we filmed. They were treated better than me and the judges.”
"Pooch Perfect" airs March 30 on ABC.