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April 20, 2016

Host Dave Salmoni migrates from animals to renovations with Game of Homes


Bill Harris / Toronto Sun

The crossover possibilities are endless with wild-animal expert Dave Salmoni now hosting Game of Homes.

Like, maybe Salmoni could hide a wild animal in every house. It certainly would add an element of surprise for the amateur renovators. You know, “Let’s just rip out this insulation and see what’s behind … OH MY GOD, A TIGER!”

“Yes, I like what you’re saying,” Salmoni said. “But my thoughts were more along the lines of, next season, putting an elephant as our demo crew, maybe a monkey as a painting crew, you know, you have to choose the best animal that’s going to help you the most.”

Then again, there are insurance concerns. Maybe we should think a little more about this.

But even without the wild animals, there’s more than enough to keep four teams of amateur renovators occupied in Season 2 of Game of Homes, which premiered Tuesday, April 12, on W.

Salmoni, of course, is an internationally recognized animal trainer and TV producer. He hosted the Mark Burnett reality series Expedition Impossible on ABC back in 2011, in addition to hosting several TV documentary series. Salmoni also has appeared as a guest on numerous late-night talk shows, hosted by the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Chelsea Handler and Jay Leno.

But all of that was based on Salmoni’s expertise with animals. So why and how did Game of Homes find him?

“It’s a good question, and I have two mildly honest answers,” Salmoni said. “One of them is, I’d never done a show in Canada before and I really wanted to do one. I’m a Canadian, I live here, I’m a Toronto boy. I loved the idea of working with a bunch of Canadians, living at home. This is the first time in 16 years that I went home at the end of every shoot.

“The other one is, I have been doing renos my whole life, I have a wife who is a designer, so the subject matter is one of my only other hobbies that I have. The next thing will be a motorcycle show, only because it’s probably my last hobby that I don’t have a TV show about.

“So I have interest in the reno world. I guess that’s the ‘why me?’ ”

Salmoni also admitted that branching out in terms of his TV exposure obviously isn’t a bad thing.

“Hosting is a different skill set than just, ‘Hey, come along on this adventure with me,’ ” Salmoni said. “But this absolutely is an avenue I’d like to go down. I do enjoy the craft of being a television host.

“As an adventure wildlife guy over the years, sure I’ve done standups, and sure I’ve had to memorize lines, and sure I’ve had to do interviews. So you learn all these things. But then somebody at some point says, ‘Hey, do you want to do something that’s a strict hosting gig?’ And suddenly you’re wearing suits instead of adventure gear.

“I just like the idea of being at work and something’s not trying to kill you. Nothing tried to kill me on this set. Maybe some people wanted to, but nothing tried, to my knowledge. And there were enough cameras, so I would know.”

In Game of Homes, the stakes are big, especially if you’ve looked at house prices in many of Canada’s largest cities lately.

There are four two-person teams of amateur renovators, and each team is given a dilapidated home on which to work. The winning team not only gets to keep its house, but it also is given a plot of land on which to put it.

Well-known TV personalities Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan serve as resident judges, with a different guest judge joining them for the weekly challenges.

And every week Dave Salmoni will interview a guest wild animal, too.

Oh wait, that’s unconfirmed. But still, be careful when you’re ripping out that insulation.