PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — An ancient show-biz adage warns actors about working with children and animals. Anthony Anderson, the patriarch on ABC's family comedy "black-ish," breaks the second rule Friday with the premiere of a talk show on Animal Planet.
"Animal Nation" features Anderson narrating funny animal videos, talking to celebrities about their pets and being the foil when handlers Dave Salmoni and Jackson Galaxy bring on some exotic creatures. Viewers were given a taste of the show after last weekend's "Puppy Bowl" before it settles into its regular time slot Fridays at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Animal lover Anderson has two dogs at home, a shih tzu and a cockapoo.
"I've always been fascinated by them," he said. "I'd watch shows like Johnny Carson and David Letterman when they had animals and thought, 'This sounds like fun.'"
He calls "Animal Nation" a combination of the "Tonight" show and "Wild Animal Kingdom."
Among the first celebrity guests are George Lopez, Bellamy Young, Cheryl Hines, Jerry O'Connell and Dermot Mulroney. His guests are encouraged to bring their pets.
He's already taped segments being attacked by a German Shepherd while wearing a protective suit and carefully handling a poisonous snake.
Despite his love for animals, the gig seems like an odd choice for a comedian on one of television's most critically acclaimed sitcoms. But Anderson said it fits with one of his ambitions. He called pals Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for advice.
"I've always seen myself as a talk-show host," he said. "If I can cut my teeth on it with a show like 'Animal Nation' right now — and hopefully this runs for a while and we have some fun — then I've checked something off my list."
And maybe, when a more general talk-show slot opens up, Anderson's name will be in the mix.