'Wilfred': Co-creator Jason Gann Wants to be the Next Chuck Lorre

Wilfred (FX)
Michael Becker/FX

What it’s about: Elijah Wood stars as Ryan, a manic depressive who can’t quite seem to get anything right -- including his suicide note. All that changes when he meets Wilfred, a neighbor’s dog who appears to be a normal furry friend to everyone – except Ryan, who sees Wilfred as a crude adult sporting a dog costume, complete with big floppy ears. Jason Gann, who co-created and starred in the Australian incarnation, reprises his role as Wilfred.

Premiere date: Thursday, June 12 at 10 p.m.

While Jason Gann has, according to reviews, successfully adapted his Australian series Wilfred for U.S. audiences, the series’ co-creator has greater aspirations.

“I want to be someone who creates Cheers or M*A*S*H,” Gann told The Hollywood Reporter at Monday’s premiere in Hollywood. “I want to make a multicamera sitcom … I want to try something that hasn’t been done before, like Married … With Children years ago that burst the bubble of what a multicam sitcom is.”

The FX comedy, which premieres Thursday, is based on a 2002 short film co-created by Adam Zwar and Gann, who starred as the title character -- a crude and surly yet brave and honest Australian guy in a cheap dog suit. Adapted for U.S. audiences by David Zuckerman (Family Guy, American Dad, King of the Hill), Gann co-stars here opposite Elijah Wood, who makes his TV series regular debut in the sitcom.

Gann, who in addition to Wilfred, co-created The Wedge, an Australian sketch comedy series on which he played various characters. The comedy spawned a parody spinoff, Mark Loves Sharon, with Gann reprising his role as Mark, a professional AFL star based on two real-life sports stars.

STORY: ‘Wilfred’: Elijah Wood Tries His Hand at Comedy With New FX Series

“I’d gone as far as I was going to go in Australia doing the same thing,” Gann said. “Adam didn’t want to do Wilfred anymore; he said he didn’t want to turn 40 and be talking to a guy in a dog suit.”

Zwar gave Gann his blessing to move forward with a U.S. adaption of Wilfred, which first came to Gann 15 years ago when he was working in children’s theater and found it funny to see people wearing animal suits smoking and cursing backstage.

“Because I played two very identifiable characters in Australia, it was difficult for me to start anything new; I was almost a prisoner to my character,” Gann said. “Having co-created two shows opened a lot of doors for me here.”

In addition to acting on Wilfred, Gann also worked as an apprentice to executive producer Zuckerman. “My ambition is to be a showrunner here. Now that I’ve worked as an apprentice with Zuckerman, it’s a tough job although I will be ready for that one day.”

In the meantime, Gann says he’s busy working on creating shows and a couple films and surrounds himself with reminders of his end goal.

“I’ve got The Hollywood Reporter’s Chuck Lorre cover story up on my wall,” he said. “I find that inspirational as a series creator. To do what he has done is really what I want to do.”

Wilfred premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on FX.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit