By: Joshua Waldrop
Kevin Smith’s stoner comedy “Hollyweed” was one of several pet projects the writer/director had shelved. With the pilot shot over three years ago, “Hollyweed,” having been passed on by several networks not yet ready to get on board with the fast moving pro-cannabis movement, seemed fated to the pile of projects-that-would-not-be. Then, last year, Smith had a massive heart attack that nearly claimed his life. Worried that smoking too much weed may have induced the cardiac episode, Smith was heartened and mildly surprised when doctors told him just the opposite: the joint he smoked just before hitting the stage to record his stand-up Showtime special, “Silent But Deadly,” which was filled with the classic SFV OG strain, probably helped save Kevin Smith’s life.
"That joint...you kept calm," Smith recalled during an interview with Stephen Colbert. "They told you you were having a massive heart attack...that joint saved your life."
Smith, a professional whim follower and dream chaser by nature and trade, having been afforded an indefinite overtime period, took stock of his life and made some immediate changes. Following the influence of his daughter, actor/musician Harley Quinn Smith, Smith became a vegan and an official Weight Watchers Ambassador. Prior to the heart attack, Smith had already lost a significant amount of weight after cutting sugar from his diet. The change in lifestyle post heart attack has led the once obese auteur to the same weight he carried as a high school kid back in New Jersey.
Being afforded a second bite at the apple will lead any individual to reevaluating their life, even for someone as accomplished and successful as Kevin Smith. What do you want to accomplish before you pay the ferryman and take that boat ride into the infinite? For Smith, there were two things: shoot one more movie with his iconic stoner duo Jay & Silent Bob, and bring “Hollyweed” to some form of life.
Any good story needs a hero and after every outlet to which “Hollyweed” was shopped passed Rivit TV swooped in to be the hero Smith both needed and wanted. Classically gun shy towards crowdfunding, Smith was drawn to the Rivit TV model which allows fans to decide which pilots get made by contributing to partial or full season runs. Viewers could watch the full pilot on the website for free and then place their bids.
For Smith, the platform offered the opportunity to dust off the “Hollyweed” pilot and allow it to see the light of day. The cannabis space had greatly evolved and expanded and gained significant momentum even in the three years since Smith had shot it. It allowed the truest chance to challenge Netflix’s reason for passing on “Hollyweed” which was that it already had the objectively terrible original series Disjointed (which has since been cancelled) and didn’t feel like there was enough interest to maintain two weed-centric shows. For Rivit TV, it offered the one of the most vocal and beloved creators in Smith to showcase and evangelize their new platform.
The campaign, aimed at raising just over $5 million to fund a six episode run, fell just short of it’s goal, but the publicity and buzz generated by the one man hype machine that is Smith led to production entities, including Rivit TV, to agree to produce the first three episodes of “Hollyweed.”
“Hollyweed,” which Smith describes as “CLERKS in a weed store,” stars Smith as Pete, who, along with veteran comedian Donnell Rawlings (Chappelle’s Show, The Wire) as Nips, run a cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles. The pilot, which is still available to watch on YouTube, is somewhat dated in the look and feel of a pre-legalization shop, but Smith’s trademark knack for dialogue and fun performances by Rawlings, Smith hetero-life mate Jason Mewes (everything Smith has ever made), Adam Brody (The League, The O.C.), and Frankie Shaw (Mr. Robot, Blue Mountain State) propel the show through its 30 minute run, at which point, immediate withdrawals caused from conditioned binge watching kick in.
With the production entities in place “Hollyweed” will have to wait for just a bit longer to see fruition. That’s because Smith just began production on his latest film Jay & Silent Bob Reboot.
The film features Smith as a slimmed down Silent Bob who, with Mewes as Jay, set off to Hollywood to halt production of a film based off of their super stoner alter egos Bluntman & Chronic. If the plot sounds familiar, that’s because it is a tongue-in-cheek rehashing of Smith’s 2001 film Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
By the time “Hollyweed” finally sees the world it will be only a pillar in the burgeoning marijuana empire (Hempire?) Smith has cultivated. In addition to his weed centric sitcom, Smith announced at last year’s MJBizCon an exclusive partnership with Canadian cannabis conglomerate Chemesis to produce, develop, and promote Smith’s first branded marijuanabrand Jay & Silent Bob’s Private Stash. The line will feature flower, oils, extracts, pre-rolls, cones, edibles, and other consumer products having recreational adult and medicinal uses.
“Kevin Smith is many things to many people,” said Chemesis CEO Edgar Montero. “To us, he is one of the most prolific content creators of our generation and the foremost authority on all things comedy, comics, and superfandom. His fans respect him because he views the world with a critical eye for excellence and authenticity, but he also is able to sit back and enjoy the moment. What better way to enjoy the moment than with our products, and what better critics to assure their quality than Kevin and Jay.”
And if you don’t grab a Snoochie Boochies or a Berserker pre roll and opt for loose green, you can smoke it out of one of the several Jay & Silent Bob and Bluntman & Chronic officially licensed bongs available thanks to Smith’s partnership with Famous Brandz, who also offer accessories such as grinders and rolling trays featuring the chronic iconics as well as featured mascots from Smith’s filmography such as Buddy Christ and Mooby the Cow.
For a brief moment in time, Kevin Smith had hung up his filmmakers jersey to focus on his Smodcast podcasting empire. Just a few years later, Smith is busier than ever with a film in production and others on the slate, comic book projects, television directing opportunities, a hit Showtime stand-up comedy special, podcasting, a bubbling cannabis hempire, and “Hollyweed.” Not bad for a guy who’s not even supposed to be here today.