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High Priest

8 Surprising Facts about Tommy Chong

Catch Tommy Chong on That '70s Show Mondays & Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

We all know his work with Cheech and Chong and his role as Leo on That ’70s Show, but it turns out there’s a lot more to Tommy than “Dave’s Not Here.” Here are some of the most interesting and not all pot related facts about Tommy Chong.

1. He Played with the Jackson 5

No, Tommy Chong wasn’t a forgotten Jackson. Before comedy, Tommy was a guitar player for a band that changed names many times and eventually became Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. They had a hit with “Does Your Mama Know About Me,” that went to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. During their touring days, a little group called the Jackson 5 would open for them. Chong doesn’t have too many sordid stories of the young Michael Jackson later only referring to him as “a cute little guy.” To be fair, Tommy was probably stoned at the time. It’s a wonder he even remembers meeting the King of Pop.


2. The Lion King Almost Became A Cheech and Chong Film

Chong Lion King
Disney

Cheech Marin voiced the hyena Banzai in The Lion King and originally Tommy Chong was going to voice Shenzi, the other talking hyena. But Disney decided to make the character female and Whoopi Goldberg ultimately voiced the role. Also, maybe Disney didn’t want a duo known for popularizing weed in their children’s film.


3. He Broke a Record at the Semi-Finals of Dancing with the Stars

Chong dance
ABC

People thought Tommy Chong would not last on Dancing with the Stars, but he kept making the cut week after week. By the time he got to the semi-finals at age 76, he was the oldest celebrity to ever make it that far. Sadly, he was beat out by the daughter of somebody on Duck Dynasty, giving us all another reason to hate Duck Dynasty.


4. His Daughter was in The Color Purple

Chong daughter
Warner Brothers/FanPix

Tommy Chong has five kids, three of which are successful actors themselves. Rae Dawn Chong was Squeak in The Color Purple and has appeared in many other roles in film and TV. His daughter Precious Chong, has the best name ever and was in LA Confidential and Pearl Harbor. Also, they look nothing like their dad.


5. He’s been in everything from That ’70s Show to Zootopia

Chong 70s show
FOX

Leo, the stoned owner of Foto Hut, isn’t Tommy Chong’s only TV role. He’s stepped in for one time appearances on Miami Vice, Nash Bridges, and Dharma and Greg. In recent years, Chong has contributed voicework to everything from Zootopia to Uncle Grandpa.


6. The DEA Spent $12 Million to Put Him in Jail

Chong prison
Youtube

Operation Pipe Dreams was a huge DEA enterprise to crack down on people selling drug paraphernalia. 55 people were arrested, but the only person to serve jail time was Tommy Chong, due to his part of the bong selling business Chong Glass/Nice Dreams. Yeah, he was sentenced to a fine and nine months in prison for selling bongs. Operation Pipe Dreams cost the government $12 million and its only triumph was making Chong miss a season of That 70’s Show.


7. He Inspired the Wolf of Wall Street in Jail

Wolf of Wall Street
Paramount Pictures

Tommy Chong certainly made the most of his jail time. His cell mate was Jordan Belfort, the author of the book Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street was based on. According to Belfort, Tommy Chong encouraged him to write his memoirs, which eventually lead to the Oscar nominated film. They’re still friends today.


8. He’s Gotten High With Everyone

Cheech and Chong

We couldn’t leave this list without some weed smoking trivia. Though it’s no surprise that Chong’s gotten high a number of times, he’s smoked with the best in the biz. In a Rolling Stone article, Tommy says he toked up with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Keith Moon, Wally from Leave it to Beaver, and all of the Beatles except Paul. There’s still time, Paul!

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Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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