The project, written, directed by and starring Smith, is set in a Los Angeles cannabis dispensary. It follows two potheads, played by Smith and Donnell Rawlings (“Chappelle’s Show”), who battle a neighboring cookie magnate played by Kristin Bauer van Straten (“True Blood”) and enlist the help of a charming porn star played by Frankie Shaw (“Mr. Robot”), to help them navigate the ups and downs of managing a small business in their quest for profits and the perfect bud.
The half-hour episode was shot on spec with financing from FremantleMedia and five firms with ties to the booming cannabis industry: Weedmaps.com, a social media community for medicinal marijuana users; G-Pen (Grenco Science), a manufacturer of portable vaporizers; DNA Genetics, a pot seed company; ACME Elixirs, an organic cannabis oil company; and RAW, maker of RAW Natural Rolling Papers.
Smith and FremantleMedia opted to shoot the project on spec because there are a number of pot-based projects in the works at present. The partners intend to shop the completed episode to TV buyers in the near future. It may be sold as a one-off or as a pilot for a potential series, depending on the level of interest. The sponsor financing gives FremantleMedia some flexibility in that regard. It’s not entirely clear how active the cannabis firms will be in the production going forward should the project land a mainstream TV home as a series.
The unconventional path to production for “Hollyweed” is in keeping with Smith’s reputation as a showbiz maverick.
“When I wrote ‘Clerks,’ I wrote the role of Randal to play myself. But as we got close to shooting, I got scared and chickened out of trying to act with dialogue, opting to play Silent Bob instead,” Smith said. “Two decades later, the universe, StarStream and FremantleMedia are giving me the chance to play a clerk with dialogue that I wrote. The fact that it’s a dispensary instead of a convenience store makes it even better.”
The show also features appearances by Adam Brody, Chloe Dworkin, Jason Mewes, Hina Abdullah, Ralph Garman and Pete Pietrangeli, as well as Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, who plays his character’s daughter.
“Hollyweed” exec producers include Smith, StarStream’s Pietrangeli, Kim Leadford and Dan McCarney, as well as Jana Edelbaum and Rachel Cohen. Liz Destro and Jordan Monsanto headed up production.
The growing world of legal marijuana is becoming fertile ground for TV series. Among the other pot-centric laffers in the pipeline:
- Chuck Lorre is shopping an untitled comedy co-written with David Javerbaum that’s set in a legal marijuana dispensary in Colorado.
- Amazon is developing “Highland,” starring Margaret Cho as an addict who, after a court-ordered rehab, has to move in with her family members who now run a pot dispensary.
- NBC has given a script commitment to Adam and Naomi Scott’s “Buds,” also set in a Colorado dispensary.
- HBO previously ordered six new episodes of Vimeo webseries “High Maintenance,” centered around a pot dealer and his clients.