CT's Bill Berloni And His Animals Starring In New TV Show

Bill Berloni

Trainer Bill Berloni poses with his charges, from left, Zizi, Boo Boo, Chico, Teddy and Chloe, before an evening show of "Legally Blonde" in New York, in this 2007 file photo. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press / May 3, 2007)

It will be all "Lights, camera...bark!" in August when one of Connecticut's most famous and cherished animal trainers and advocates, Bill Berloni, takes on yet another new venture, this time as the star of a new Discovery Family Channel (DFC) show titled, "From Wags to Riches with Bill Berloni."

Berloni is well-known in Connecticut and beyond for his celebrated work behind the scenes with animals, rescue dogs in particular, shepherding them on to successful stage careers in productions including "Annie" and "Legally Blonde." The trainer, Humane Society of New York director, animal rights activist and author, along with his wife Dorothy and daughter Jenna, will be featured on the show, which is part of the network's monthlong dog-themed programming event titled, "Pawgust," premiering in August.

A 58-year-old Higganum resident and head of his company, William Berloni's Theatrical Animals, Berloni is juggling a lot these days. He currently has dogs in Helen Mirren's "The Audience" and the upcoming Broadway comedy, "Living on Love." He is also finishing up production on the new Broadway-bound musical, "Because of Winn Dixie," based on the novel of a young girl and her dog. He was in Delaware and heading into rehearsal for that show, but good guy and animal lover that he is, still found a little time to joke and share the new news about his new show as he Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: You are already doing so much, and now a reality television show? What was the impetus behind that?

A: I am an old man, and I don't hire ex-prison convicts and don't work with little people, but I kept looking for someone who wanted to do a good show about good people doing good things. Discovery rebranded one of its networks and saw our pitch and approached us. It's not a reality contest but rather a docu-series. It's about Dorothy and Jenna and I and what we do on a daily basis, helping animals at our home, the work with the Humane Society of New York and what we do with the animals for the theater.

Q: It sounds nice and all, but do you think it will be enough to capture what has become a pretty jaded television audience these days?

A: Honestly, people find it interesting, our rescue work, and giving these animals a forever home. We are the crazy people who see abandoned animals on the side of the road and taken them in. Life on the farm, handing out with Helen Mirren and listening to her stories about her dogs, me sleeping on the stage of a theater at night so that the dog can get used to the environment, it makes for a good story.

Q: What's been the biggest surprise so far?

A: Filming just started a couple of months ago and Discovery has already asked for 10 episodes.

Q: That's a lot of living for three people to carry on publicly, no?

A: Actually Discovery is very interested in making our animals part of the cast of characters, Sandy, Bruiser, those are dogs that still live with us. They are two of the 30 dogs that live with us.

Q: I didn't know even the famous dogs stay on with you.

A: From a personal standpoint, you adopt a dog and you love it. I didn't just adopt them to exploit them. We have a personal investment emotionally.

Q: So usually you are making stars, albeit, four-legged ones. What is it like to be the star of a show?

A: I don't walk around thinking about "What should I do?" I just do what we do. When Discovery started following us around, they thought it was great. So much reality TV has become scripted, and they were clear, "We don't want you changing your life or creating you life. We want it to be real." And it is. I am flattered they think our lives are so interesting!

Q: What do you fear the most?

A: I think the thing we are most fearful about is having a hit TV show because that changes your life. We just work with animals and while fully committed to doing the show, we just want to send a good message. We've let privacy go so people can see us and learn how we handle our animals and maybe help them, too, although we won't be looking into the camera and saying "this is how you train your dog." It's about being kind, gentle, thoughtful and you don't need to be a superstar.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes when it comes to filming crews showing up at the house and putting your lives out there in the public eye?

A: The house is always clean and Dorothy isn't cleaning it for free anymore. And I have to wear nice clothes now. I can't really wear the grubby clothes I usually wear on the farm.

Q: Will other aspects of your Connecticut life be part of the show?

A: I always try to make my work Connecticut-centric. I'll be going to the Goodspeed, where it all started with "Annie," to the places that are part of our lives, the convalescent homes where we bring some of the dogs to visit, the local feed and grain store, the vet's in Middletown.

Q: Any last words?

A: I feel so blessed.

Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.

PLAN AHEAD

Top Trending Videos