When we set up Nerd in 2010, we always had one eye on the US. For two years we built relationships and earned a reputation as a company that could find unique talent and shoot great tape. But it wasn’t until we stumbled into a dog grooming parlour in Brooklyn, that our ambitions became a reality.
Lou Ferrante, an ex Gambino associate turned writer and presenter, first told me about the legend of ‘Head’. The story went something like this: when the mob wanted someone’s head cracked open, ‘Head’ was the guy they called. He was a suicidal junky heading for an early death. Then he met Bruno, a stray dog – like him – and fell in love. When Bruno died in Head’s arms, he turned his life around.
Last summer, Lou took me to see Head at his new place of work: The Diamond Collar, a dog grooming parlour in the heart of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, that he runs with his formidable girlfriend Madelana Perrelli. But when Head’s not grooming dogs, he’s rescuing them. The rescues are Head’s redemption. Through them, he pays back. They keep him clean and sober (well, apart from the daily 40 smokes and 17 espressos!) It was a simple sizzle to produce. Head is one of those characters that emotion just pours out of. He’s funny, heartfelt, compassionate – and a little terrifying in a James Caan in Godfather kind of way.
Our agent, Scott Lonker, set up a meeting with Rita Mullin and Sheri Salata at The Oprah Winfrey Network towards the end of 2012. I showed them a 90 second sizzle – they got it immediately and fell in love with the character and world. I continue to be blown away by the speed with which they move. We went from first kiss to marriage all in three weeks with a straight to series offer. We’re now in final post on the 10th episode and just hoping it doesn’t end in divorce….
The Diamond Collar begins airing on the OWN Network on January 17. John Farrar founded Nerd TV with Jago Lee after working at indies including Tiger Aspect, Talkback Thames, Raw and Diverse.
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