Hardwick's Deal

For Austinite Johnny Hardwick, getting in the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival paid off big: It led to a development deal with Brandon Tartikoff and New World Entertainment. According to Hardwick, the deal was really in the can before he ever left Austin. He was set to perform in a show called `New Faces.' "Tartikoff has this thing called `first look,'" he says, "where he gets first look at the comics on the `New Faces' bill. He saw a tape of me, and he offered me a deal before I even got to Montreal."

The deal was finalized at the festival. "I met Brandon in person at, like, three in the morning at the hotel bar. He said some extremely nice things about me, then we had a great meeting the next day. He said he wanted to develop a sitcom around me. I told him I liked Green Acres and Chris Elliot's Get a Life, and he laughed. And we decided to work from there.

"The deal I made with him is that I get to still live in Austin. So they have to fly me out and put me up in the Bevely Hills Hotel or some place when they need me. It's for maybe less money than I could've gotten but it's more of an `I get to live in Austin' kind of thing.

"The basis of my contract is that I not do a sitcom with anybody but New World. So I'm getting paid to not do television. I mean, eventually they're shooting for me to do TV, but that's what I'm getting paid for now. To me, the fact that I'm getting paid to not do TV is great. I'm able to do stand-up more, so basically they're financing the development of my act."

Hardwick knows better than to expect too much from the deal. He had a similar project - one in which he, Laura House, Howard Kremer, and Chip were to create an Austin-based comedy show for MTV - go south in just the past year. But he's eager to give it a shot. Hardwick heads to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks for a series of meetings at New World. After that, who knows? - R.F.

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