By the late '90s, TV talk/variety shows had become increasingly stale (with MTV's non-music video programming about as fresh and exciting as a saltine cracker left out in the desert). And then there was Tom Green, who exploded on the scene with a show that was irreverent, confrontational, and hilarious -- a mixture of the heady days of the original Saturday Night Live, Andy Kaufman's talent for taking the joke too far, and a much more daredevilish take on Candid Camera. Born in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, on July 29, 1971, and raised in Ottawa, Green's entertainment career did not begin in television, but rather in music -- he was a member of the early-'90s 3rd Bass-style rap outfit Organized Rhyme. Signed to A&M Records, the group issued a single album, 1992's Huh? Stiffenin' Against the Wall -- but broke up soon after, despite being nominated for Best Rap Recording for their single "Check the O.R." at the 1993 Juno Awards.
From there, Green found his true calling -- television -- when he landed his own cable access show in 1994, The Tom Green Show, on Ottawa's Rogers Television 22. Joined by two friends, the Ed McMahon-esque "straight man" Glenn Humplik and a gentleman who stood in the background and usually only laughed and slurped coffee, Phil Giroux, the show was set up +á la Late Night with David Letterman. However, whereas Letterman had notable guests, Green would interview strange eccentrics, while the show focused on Green's gross-out sense of humor (including his fondness for studying roadkill and parts of animal carcasses), street interviews, and pranks on his unsuspecting parents (especially the infamous "Slutmobile" sketch). While the show proved to be too much for some, the truth of the matter was that, in a strange way, Green was quite a comedic talent. As a result, the program became a hit in his homeland, as Canada's Comedy Network picked up the show in 1997. A year later, Green briefly returned to rap music with an album credited to MC Face, Not the Tom Green Show.
Intrigued by tapes of Green's show, MTV signed on in 1999 to produce their own version of the program in New York. Almost immediately, Green became a nationwide sensation, as the show featured classic bits from his earlier shows as well as newly recorded ones. Once more, Green briefly returned to music, issuing a single, "Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song)," which subsequently became a number one hit on MTV's Total Request Live. Green also began a much publicized relationship with Drew Barrymore -- at the peak of his MTV show's success -- before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, resulting in the halting of the show (although an hourlong program, The Tom Green Cancer Special, was shown on MTV). Green (now cancer-free) then made the jump to movies, starring in the successful Road Trip before Green and Barrymore married in July 2001 -- and divorced in December 2001.
Green has since appeared in several less than successful movies (2001's Freddy Got Fingered, 2002's Stealing Harvard, etc.), and also got another shot at hosting his own TV show, 2003's late-night MTV program The New Tom Green Show, which was canceled soon after. Ever the Renaissance man, Green then turned to publishing, as he penned a surprisingly moving and open autobiography, 2004's Hollywood Causes Cancer. Green also issued another rap album in 2005, Prepare for Impact -- the first-ever album to be credited solely to Tom Green. In 2006 Green began hosting another show, Tom Green Live, shot live at his home in the Hollywood Hills and broadcast most weeknights via his website, www.tomgreen.com, at 8 p.m. PST. Not as extreme as his first two TV programs, the show often saw Green stick mostly to interviewing celebrity guests, but in his own unmistakable style. ~ Greg Prato
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