Jack was here

Black and family kick back in, around Tonasket

Jack Black
Jack Black takes a stuffed crust pizza (of sorts) for a spin at the Tonasket Pizza Company. The actor/rock comedian and his family visited in the area last week. Brent Baker/staff photos

TONASKET – Jack Black’s Tonasket-area connections are not exactly a secret.

Nor was his vacation here last week as the well known actor/musician and his family didn’t exactly hunker down and hide during his visit. Black, his wife Tanya and young sons Sammy and Tommy, while visiting dad and stepmom Tom and Linda Black, took in plenty of the area, from buying fireworks at the stand in the TVBRC parking lot, fishing, causing a bit of a stir while grocery shopping at Grant’s and consuming a pizza with his family (and a reporter) at the Tonasket Pizza Company.

“I’ve been here quite a few times,” he said. “Even before my dad moved back here, we had lots of family here. My grandma, Gladys Black, lived here. The Fanchers are all my aunts and uncles and cousins.

Jack Black and the family enjoyed some vacation time in the Okanogan Valley last week. Pictured are (front, l-r) Sammy, Tommy (back) Linda, Tanya, Jack and Tom Black.
Jack Black and the family enjoyed some vacation time in the Okanogan Valley last week. Pictured are (front, l-r) Sammy, Tommy (back) Linda, Tanya, Jack and Tom Black.

“This is my third time with the boys. The first time Sammy was just a baby. The second time it was just me and Tommy. But this is the first time with both my boys (at once). It’s a great town and we always have a great time when we visit here. Plus, there’s less traffic here than in L.A.”

While Jack and Tom enjoyed a fishing trip on July 4, the rest of the family took in the Chesaw Rodeo, though to their regret, the boys didn’t enter the chicken chase.

“When Sammy found out he could have kept a chicken he was a little upset,” his dad said. “I told him I didn’t think they’d like it on the plane.”

The boys were also treated to a tour of the inner workings of the local ambulance by the Tonasket EMS, which, as it turned out, found they were dealing with a five-year-old locked in a brain-eating zombie trance.

“So we go on the ambulance, and they let us turn on the sirens and they took turns getting on the gurney and getting carried out of the ambulance,” Black said. “Then Tommy looked like he lost consciousness. But when he woke up he wasn’t Tommy any more, he was the Living Dead.

“We all ran. He wanted to eat our brains.

“It was amazing, one of the highlights of the visit.”

Black himself is not working on any zombie movies. Most of his time and energy is currently feeding Tenacious D, the comedy rock duo featuring himself and Kyle Gass.

“I can’t tell you too much about it because I don’t want to give away too many secrets,” Black said. “But me and Kyle have … a series of internet short films we’ve been working on. It’s not zombies, but it’ll take place in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

“There might be some toxic creatures involved.”

He said in the current economy, Tenacious D is a more surefire bet than filmmaking.

“When we book a tour, we know it’s going to happen,” Black said.

This fall and winter, Tenacious D will be playing in Germany, England and other European countries, as well as a music comedy festival in Santa Monica, Cal.

“That one’s called the Festival Supreme,” he said. “Check it out: festivalsupreme.com.”

Black said he has couple of movies that he is trying to develop: one based on a book called “The Financial Lives of Poets,” by Spokane author Jess Walter, and another with Mike White, who wrote Jack Black fan favorite “School of Rock.”

“Nowadays, things have slowed down,” he said. “So I don’t believe any of them are going to happen until they actually start filming, or until someone gives you $5 million or however much it costs to make them.”

While Black said he isn’t trying to push his boys toward replicating his career, he and Tanya (a cellist and vocalist) have naturally exposed them to the arts.

“We’ll just see what their interests pull them towards,” he said. “Try to limit the Ipad time. I’m not sure what kind of career there is in the Ipad field. We already encourage the music, dance and theatrics. They like it and we do it with them. It’s what we know.

“They’ll probably rebel and go into engineering or God knows what. But I hope they go into the arts so we have something to talk about, because I don’t know anything else.”

Black, of course, is known to the Tonasket schools for his generosity in donating Disneyland passes to the entire Tonasket High School band in 2011 when it traveled there to perform and take part in a music clinic. But one of his long-term commitments has been to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

“I got involved because we thought we had a family member who had mitochondrial disease,” Black said. “It turned out that person did not, but I’d already become involved. I couldn’t bail out on a good cause and the good people involved, you know? So whenever they call up and ask if I could so something, I do my best to oblige.

“I was just at a big convention for that, met a lot of the doctors. There’s a lot of support building for that organization. They say that it’s connected to a lot of other diseases. If they ever figure it out, it will have a huge domino effect to other related things, wide-ranging from autism to all kinds of things, though I’m not smart enough to talk about what they all are.”

As the Black family was headed back to Los Angeles, they hoped to swing by Quill Hyde’s “A Cavallo” mobile carousel, as it is a truly unique piece of Tonasket art.

“Were really impressed with the arts community here in Tonasket,” Black said. “There’s a whole subculture of stuff going on. I met Quill and he couldn’t have been less interested in me or my famousness. So I was immediately intrigued. I found out he was a really cool artist and found out he went every year to Burning Man (the art event/community that appears annually in the Nevada desert, for which A Cavallo was originally built).

“That’s another movie I’m trying to develop, is one about Burning Man. I’ve never been to that. So now when I meet someone who’s been there, I’m interested.”

Jack Black hams it up with the Tonasket Pizza Company crew this weekend. Our interview with reporter Brent Baker appeared in the July 11 issue of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune