A Crack at Fame
When host Billy Crystal delivered that one-liner during last month's Oscar telecast, it was just for yucks. It has since become no laughing matter. Comedian Dana Snow, who wrote the joke, has signed a contract to write a full-length screenplay with that somewhat unwieldy title. "This is my first huge break," says Snow, 44.
Snow's gags-to-riches story began about two wreeks before the Oscars, when he heard Crystal on the Rosie O'Donnell Show invite viewers to submit jokes via the Internet, saying he would read the best three at the Awards. In 30 minutes, Snow says he crafted 20 Oscar-related jests, including one about the staid accounting firm Price Waterhouse, which has tabulated Oscar results since 1936. Snow's winning entry was one of 35,000 submitted.
More important, it was the only joke that evening that impressed Oscar attendee Sam Longoria, a producer of independent films and a visual effects technician (Dante's Peak). "People were laughing," says Longoria, who had hired Snow as a writer for a 1992 radio show. "Laughter is the scorecard whether something will work."
During a commercial break, Longoria phoned Snow (whom Crystal had credited) from a cell phone and arranged a meeting. The next day he agreed to pay Snow, a onetime janitor at the Los Angeles County Courthouse, six figures to write a $6-$10 million budget comedy. Snow, a bachelor who lives in L.A. and earns a modest income doing stand-up comedy, is busy writing. Longoria plans to start shooting in three months—which seems optimistic, since even Snow says the plot is still evolving. All he knows is that the characters won't be accountants. That's fine by Price Waterhouse. Says spokesman Peter Winkler: "Although we can't comment on our sex appeal, we like to think we're an intelligent bunch."