Milwaukee native David Zucker is a Hollywood director known for works such as Airplane! as well as The Naked Gun franchise.
He joined Libby Collins on this week’s WTMJ Conversations.
A portion of the interview was transcribed by eCourt Reporters, Inc.
DAVID ZUCKER: As I, you know, went through the movie business, I realized how important this story was, and it’s actually more important than the jokes, which came easy to us. But, in Airplane, we had a great story, and it wasn’t something we made up, we adapted it from a black and white movie from 1957 called Zero Hour which had the exact same plot. You know, the guy goes up in a plane and he’s got PTSD, there’s food poisoning, and he has to fly the plane down. So, and we just took it right — in fact, we bought the rights to Zero Hour, and it’s a good thing we did because, you know, we would have been sued. So, if you go on YouTube, you can put in “Airplane Zero Hour” and it shows scene for scene how everything is the same. We just — we put in the comedy.
LIBBY COLLINS: There’s a lot of politically incorrect humor in that film. Do you think that could have been made today?
DAVID ZUCKER: Well, probably not. You know I get asked that question when we do — after a screening, we do a Q&A, some people say, “Could you make Airplane today?” And I say, “Sure, just without the jokes.” And — but I think audiences love it. Audiences are ready for any kind of humor, it’s just that the studio boardrooms are frightened of the cancel culture, and that’s really unfortunate, what’s happened, because everybody’s frightened.
LIBBEY COLLINS: Yeah, with your sense of humor and the movies that you’ve done, everything from, what, Kentucky Fried Movie to Airplane, Naked Gun, and Hot Shots, and the rest, do you find it difficult to get anything through, as far as into production these days?
DAVID ZUCKER: I think we do find it very difficult, and that’s for a number of reasons. They’re making fewer movies now, and so we possibly could get a movie made easier through — in a streamer, you know, if we go to Netflix or Amazon, something like that, but then you don’t get that audience reaction. But just the fact is, there’s fewer movies out. The other thing is that people don’t want to take a chance on spoof because it’s tricky. A lot of people have done it and it hasn’t worked.