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Chong: Eisner didn’t light up over ‘Smoke’

Counterculture icons recall early dealings with Disney

ASPEN, Colo. — Even here, Eisner can’t escape the heat.

At last week’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Disney CEO Michael Eisner showed up, figuratively, in a most unlikely scene: during the much-anticipated reunion of 1970s counterculture icons Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

During the show, hosted by “Pimp My Ride’s” Xzibit, Chong recounted the making of the duo’s 1978 pic “Up in Smoke.”

At the time Eisner was president of Paramount under Barry Diller and, upon seeing a rough cut of “Up in Smoke,” Eisner decided the dope-filled comedy wasn’t up to snuff.

The film’s director, Lou Adler, then bought it back from the studio.

When the finished film was screened later and, Chong said, “People were going crazy,” Eisner was among the audience.

“When I met Eisner, he had that look like he had fucked up bigtime,” Chong said.

Par ended up buying the pic back and releasing it, as well as subsequent Cheech and Chong films including “Still Smokin’.”

A few days later, the real Eisner showed up at the fest for the presentation of Jim Carrey’s AFI Star Award. The mogul looked relaxed and cheery. Tommy Chong sat a few rows in front of him, looking equally chill.

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