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New Kevin Smith cannabis comedy lets viewers decide its fate

Filmmaker Kevin Smith discusses his new show (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
 (Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)
Filmmaker Kevin Smith discusses his new show (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) (Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)
Actor/director Kevin Smith is hoping a new cannabis-themed TV show will appeal to all sorts of viewers, who also will have a role in whether new episodes are filmed. Although total viewership is traditionally a big part of a show’s success or failure, Smith’s new project “Hollyweed” provides viewers with more active control of whether its fate. The show recently went live on Rivit TV, a new streaming TV concept that combines original episodic TV with the concept of crowd-sourcing. After watching the free 25-minute commercial-free pilot of Smith’s show portraying the zany antics at a California cannabis dispensary, viewers can pledge to help pay for the full first season. Rivit TV said pledge amounts are based on “how much you want it to get it made,” and the more who pledge, the lower everyone’s price point will be. The suggested price per episode for the first season is between $1.99 and $5.99, or $11.94 to $35.94 for six episodes. The pledge period lasts 45 days, and if this price point or full funding isn’t reached, no one pays. However, if the total fund-raising goal of $5.3 million is met before this, those who pledged at or above $1.99 will be charged. New episodes will begin to be filmed and are expected to be released weekly 75-90 days later. This is Rivit TV’s first program, and officials say this model of TV programming provides viewers with a better direct connection with a show’s creator, and doesn’t rely on other traditional metrics like sponsorship or complex viewer algorithms. Smith is known for a variety of comedies such as “Clerks,’ “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma,” plus several popular podcasts. He shot the pilot for “Hollyweed” three years ago but never found any interest from networks. The show takes place at a dispensary owned by Smith’s character and Donnell Rawlings, from “Chapelle Show.” Other cast members include other recognizable faces from Smith’s past projects, including Jason Mewes, Adam Brody and Ralph Garman, co-host of the “Hollywood Babble-On” podcast. Smith wrote, directed and acted in the pilot, which revolves around the ups and downs of running a dispensary, making money, dealing with crazy customers and staff, and searching for the best pot strains. He said “Hollyweed” isn’t necessarily ground-breaking but it was fun to make. “Essentially it’s ‘Clerks’ in a weed store, with Donnell Rawlings and me as the middle-aged knuckleheads behind the counter,” Smith said. “Clerks,” made in 1994, was a low-budget comedy that showed the strange employees, customers and situations at a convenience store and video store in New Jersey. It spawned at least one sequel and a cartoon plus a spin-off movie of some characters. Smith is also a prominent cannabis enthusiast, and makes pro-marijuana references. He said his doctors also credit regular cannabis use with helping him recover from a recent heart attack. “See the freak show of me trying to act with words, and if it remotely amuses you, shower us with the loot to do it again and again,” he told Rolling Stone. “If you hate it? Thanks for even sampling my stuff in the first place.”
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