Who knew sucking on a cow's udder and throwing plastic babies at cars would launch both a career and a national obsession with televised pranks? Well, Tom Green apparently did. The outrageous stunts on his short-lived but influential MTV series The Tom Green Show (1999-2000) literally spawned the shock TV trend. (Think Fear Factor, Jackass, Punk'd and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment). But just as quickly as Green rose to idol status with his teenage male audience, he came crashing down with a series of set backs. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer, he wed (and shed) Drew Barrymore and wrote, directed and starred in a spectacularly horrible movie, Freddy Got Fingered.
Green, now 32, is getting back to his roots with MTV's The New Tom Green Show (debuting at midnight on June 23). The hour-long show co-hosted by Green's longtime pal Glenn Humplik will be topical and silly, he says, but not gross. Bovine livestock everywhere will sleep more soundly knowing that.
TV Guide Online: Since your last MTV show, you've had cancer and recovered, and have been married and divorced. Are you a different person than the MTV viewers saw last?
Green: I think I certainly am different. The last time I was on MTV, I essentially had just got on an airplane from Canada and popped down to New York City and started this cable show, and all hell kind of broke loose. All of a sudden, I was booked on David Letterman and Jay Leno and all this stuff. It was a little bit overwhelming. And certainly after getting sick and going through a lot of stuff in my personal life, you start to kind of get a slightly different perspective on everything. I'm a little more grounded about what this business is all about. That certainly has an impact on my personality and it'll have an impact on the show because of that.
TVGO: Will this show be as outrageous as your old one?
Green: Back when we started, eating worms was something no one had ever seen on television before. Or putting poo-poo on a microphone. This kind of gross stuff was pretty new at the time. To go back and do some of that stuff is not something that we're going to be doing. A lot of people have taken that idea and ran with it. You can tune into any one of the major networks on any given night and see someone eating worms or bobbing for intestines out of a Mason jar.
TVGO: I'm guessing your character Chad isn't in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle?
Green: No, he's not... You want to take a guess why?
TVGO: Er, is it creative differences over the direction of the character?
Green: Sure, let's throw that down. Yeah.
TVGO: Do you have any other movies planned?
Green: No, not really. I made a mental decision a year or so ago that I really wanted to get back to doing what I really kind of always wanted to do. And that's doing television. Again, it was part of the insanity of getting sucked into the Hollywood machine in a way. One minute you're up in Canada doing your community cable show and then next minute you're sucked into that whole ridiculousness of that world. And people were asking me to do movies, and of course, I did them, because it seemed kind of neat and certainly they paid well. But I woke up a year ago and slapped myself a few times and said, "This isn't really what I grew up wanting to do." When I was a kid in high school I wasn't saying I wanted to be an actor.
TVGO: How is your health?
Green: It's great. I completely kicked the whole cancer thing. It's been over two years now, so I'm completely cured.
TVGO: Back to the show. Will you wear a suit, have a band and do a monologue in the traditional style?
Green: I'll be wearing a suit. I think it's kind of important because we are putting on a show. As far as the way it looks and feels, there's a desk. There's a couch. There's a chair. There's a co-host. But we're not really going to be doing what other shows do. It's going to be a little more personal. Me telling some stories about things going in my real life. I think it's going to be kind of cool.