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March 2004

H.E.A.R. Honors Jack Black

Lead singer of the rock/comedy duo Tenacious D and a frequent presence on film and television, Jack Black was likened by some to comedians John Belushi and Chris Farley both for his high-energy outrageous antics and his heavyset frame. Dark-haired, with intense eyes and rubbery features perfectly suited for his expressive performances, Black nearly always looked disheveled and about to snap, whether sporting long hair or a buzzcut. A member of Tim Robbins' Actors Gang, Black made his feature debut in Robbins' directorial debut "Bob Roberts" (1992) playing a crazed fan of the titular folk singer turned politician. He followed up with memorable turns in the Robbins films "Dead Man Walking" (1995) and "Cradle Will Rock" (1999). The latter paired him in an inspired scene with longtime collaborator Kyle Gass, an actor and guitarist who formed Tenacious D with Black in 1994. A band described by Black and Gass as the two-headed love child of heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Molly Hatchet, (as well as the far less accurate label Greatest Band on Earth), Tenacious D's comedic repertoire featured songs with subjects ranging from Sasquatch to their own hordes of willing groupies. Black and Gass' innovative efforts landed them a spot as a special musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" as well as winning Tenacious D its own self-titled HBO series (1999). Soon after, the band launched sell-out nationwide tours without the benefit of a released album.

Black didn't coast on his Tenacious D success, and proved himself a versatile performer, making valued acting contributions to both film and television. His prolific small screen work included guest stints on such series as "The X-Files" (Fox), "Picket Fences" (CBS), "The Single Guy" (NBC), and oddly enough, "Touched By an Angel" (CBS). While television work kept him busy and visible, film would launch Black's career. Cameos in such features as "Demolition Man" (1993), "Bye Bye, Love" and "Waterworld" (1995) helped pave the way for more memorable turns in "The Cable Guy" and "Mars Attacks!" (both 1996). In 1998, the actor brought his frenetic screen presence to featured roles in the independent feature "Johnny Skidmarks" (debuted on HBO) and the big-budget action thriller "Enemy of the State". He had an acclaimed turn as a drug-addled hospital worker in "Jesus' Son" in 1999, the same year that Tenacious D fan and fellow Actors Gang member John Cusack snagged Black to co-star in his adaptation of Nick Hornsby's record store-set novel "High Fidelity". In addition to his impressive high-energy performance as obnoxious record store clerk Barry, Black proved his musical talent in the 2000 release, voicing a suprisingly adept and unironic rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic "Let's Get it On". In addition to this roundly praised performance, the actor inked his first major deal in 2000, signing on to star with Jason Biggs and Steve Zahn in the offbeat comedy "Saving Silverman" for a reported $1 million paycheck. The film was released in 2001 to mixed reviews, but Black's performance and his onscreen rapport with the equally talented Zahn helped to keep the comedy afloat. 2003 "The School of Rock," directed by Richard Linklater of "Dazed and Confused" fame, was written specifically for the actor and his style of comedy by "Chuck & Buck" and "The Good Girl" scribe Mike White. Black plays Dewey Finn, an unemployed musician who lands a gig as an elementary school teacher. Bored with reading, writing and arithmetic, Finn decides to turn his class into a rock 'n' roll band. Jack talked about his experience working with the kids in School of Rock. " Working with the kids was awesome. In the movie I'm teaching them how to rock, but in reality they didn't need to be taught because they were already really kick-ass musicians. It's amazing for a 10-year-old to be shredding on guitar, drums, keyboards and bass. So we were just sort of hanging, rocker to rocker, like, "What's up, dude?" And we would horse around and do a lot of made-up handshakes, songs, dances. I think they were just really psyched to be doing a movie."

And we are psyched too that Jack generously donated his time and talents to appear in a PSA for H.E.A.R. in support of our efforts to educate all rockers about their hearing. Thanks Jack!

Check out Jack's H.E.A.R. PSA

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