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Tom Arnold’s stand up comedy and acting career has spanned about three decades. And he’s about to celebrate a milestone in his movie career: From making his first-ever movie scene in 1992’s Hero starring Dustin Hoffman, he’ll appear in his 100th film this summer in Outrun with Dax Shepard, Kristin Bell, and Bradley Cooper.
Currently, he’s hosting CMT’s fish out of water reality experiment, My Big Redneck Vacation. It places a country family in the upscale Hamptons for the summer and lets them loose to see what happens as they mix with the locals. Along with Bayou Billionaires, the series’ premieres helped the network snag its highest ratings ever for original series.
Arnold agreed to give The Hollywood Reporter’s readers a look into what makes him tick by sharing some little-known stories about himself in a guest blog.
Here are five things you didn’t know about Tom Arnold.
1. After I gave a speech at the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., my ex-wife and I were invited over to Frank Sinatra’s house. As the women chatted in the living room, Frank invited me to join him at his “men only” bar. The other guys were drinking whiskey at two in the afternoon and he offered me one. I said “no thanks” and he was like, “What?” I considered telling him the truth, that I was a recovering alcoholic fresh from rehab, but I didn’t know if he’d understand that, so just said “I can’t” and motioned towards my then-wife. Frank said, “No broad could stop me from drinking,” and I said “I guess you’ve never been with a really big one.” That he understood.
2. Jenny Craig offered my former partner and I $10 million to lose 20 pounds. Sounds easy, but in our defense the pressure to lose weight for that kind of money makes you really, really hungry and the new Jenny Craig food was especially delicious. They’d just come out with these Jenny Craig ice cream bars that tasted just like the real ones and I was eating like thirty of those a day. At the Week 3 weigh in, we were caught manipulating the scale and it was determined we’d in fact gained 20 pounds. Given one last chance, we realized we could build a school with this money plus, I’m not a scientist but at 6′-2″, 280 lbs., and 5′-0″, 180 lbs., losing some weight might not be such a bad idea. So, we pounded fists and decided to team up. 24/7, I’d be her food sponsor, she’d be mine. The very next day I walked into the kitchen and caught her finishing off a bag of Jenny Craig chocolate chip cookies. So like any decent sponsor, I ran over and crushed the cookies. And she, like any decent food addict, pulled out a butcher knife and… needless to say that was not the image Jenny Craig had envisioned when we were hired and they terminated us. We didn’t get $10 million to lose 20 pounds, but we got to keep the deposit. So, we got $2 million dollars to gain 20 pounds — which was a win-win as far as I was concerned.
3. I once won an eating contest and $50,000 for my abused children’s charity (San Diego Center For Children) by wolfing down seventeen pieces of pie in eight minutes — besting Hulk Hogan and 500 lb. wrestler Typhoon — at Planet Hollywood. Then, still on a victory high, I ate an entire pizza on the way home.
4. I auditioned and got cast by the great Martin Scorsese in the film Bringing Out the Dead. The night before I was to leave for New York, Martin called and said his original choice for the role, John Goodman, was now available but it was my role, my choice. Right… so I graciously stepped aside knowing how Hollywood works and that one day they’d make it up to me. Right?
5. I couldn’t feel too bad, though, because another of my directing heroes, Oliver Stone, cast me in a film. The night before we went to Miami for three months and after rehearsing with Al Pacino and Jim Caviezel for a couple weeks, Oliver called and said he could no longer see me in my role as a sportscaster in Any Given Sunday. He paid me and wrote me a really nice letter. That Christmas, a glutton for punishment, I snuck away to watch the film and see who played me. It was Oliver Stone himself and the Oscar-winning screenwriter honored me by using my marked-up script. A couple months later, after not being believable as a sportscaster, Fox Sports hired me to host The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
By Tom Arnold
My Big Redneck Vacation airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. on CMT.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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