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For freestyle champion Frank Beddor, the ski lift, not the corporate ladder, is the way to the top. After winning World Cup titles in 1981 and 1982, Beddor quit competitive skiing and literally jumped into B-films. He coordinated and performed many of the ski stunts in the 1985 comedy Hot Dog: The Movie, among others. In the early Nineties, Beddor started producing films instead of skiing in them. He found the perfect synergy between his skiing and his nascent Hollywood career at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. “I never missed one,” Beddor says. “Everyone wanted to ski with me.”
At the 1992 festival, Beddor was riding a chairlift at Deer Valley and spied 20th Century Fox chief Tom Rothman. “I yelled down for him to wait,” Beddor recalls. “He said he would meet me at the bottom, but I didn’t want to risk missing him so I jumped about 20 feet from the chair.” Rothman, who fancies himself a strong skier, was annoyed when Beddor quickly caught him. “I let his ego wither until we got to the bottom,” Beddor says, “and then admitted I dropped off the lift.”
His acquaintance with Rothman paid off four years later. While riding a chairlift with 20th Century Fox executive Dylan Sellers at the 1996 festival, Beddor pitched a comedy about an aging nerd who was obsessed with finding the beautiful girl he almost escorted to his high school prom. Sellers told Beddor to send him the script. Showing the quick reactions that won him two championships, Beddor unzipped his ski suit and pulled out the manuscript. He threatened to read it out loud if Sellers didn’t take it.
Now, more than $100 million and the summer’s surprise smash hit later, Beddor is working on several projects and hoping to repeat the magic of selling There’s Something About Mary during a short lift ride up a Utah mountain.