The director of the comedy classic Airplane!, among so many others, is a proud father of a new baby, American Carol, which seeks to change the face of Hollywood. He wants this pro-American, pro-troop comedy to inspire others on the Right side of town to do the same. He is hoping Americans will support the effort and laugh at theaters this weekend. He talked to National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez this week about the movie and politics in America and Hollywood.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: I’m busy. I’ve just about had it with politics. Why should I go and see your political movie?
David Zucker: We need to laugh. Now, more than ever. That’s why you should see An American Carol.
Lopez: Why did you make it?
Zucker: I wanted to make a movie for our 50 percent of the country. And our 5 percent of Hollywood!
Lopez: Are there really conservatives out in Hollywood just looking for a little encouragement? Can we take over Hollywood? Where will Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn go?
Zucker: I hope AC will just encourage other conservatives in Hollywood. And we don’t want to take over Hollywood, just a small section of Beverly Hills North of Sunset. As for Penn and Baldwin, they’re still both great actors, they’re most welcome to stay and, hey, if they’re doing a movie at Sony, it’ll be an easy commute from their new homes in Crenshaw.
Lopez: How did you get this ensemble cast together. Voight. Grammar. Davi. The list goes on. It can’t help them get their next job can it?
Zucker: We told Jon Voight and Robert Davi that it was a conservative political comedy and they signed up. Same with James Woods and Dennis Hopper. Leslie Nielsen thought he was playing Bob Cratchit, and I convinced Gary Coleman he’d be Tiny Tim. Kelsey Grammer was the easiest of all. I just told him he could keep the boots and the whip.
As James Woods says in the movie, “This is a fickle town.” But it doesn’t matter what you’ve done if they want you. If Spielberg decides he wants Scott Peterson for Schindler’s List II, he’s in. I do, however, expect a bigger challenge putting OJ in Naked Gun 4.
Lopez: Do you have a favorite scene?
Zucker: There are lots of scenes I love . . . hell, I love all of them. The plantation scene, the Rosie O’Connell documentary, Malone rushing to the pier to say goodbye to his nephew, Josh, and then he and Kelsey walking off into the mist. George Washington is another favorite, because the scene was such an oddity in the midst of a zany comedy. Imagine a World Trade Center aftermath scene… with a punchline! I guess, the equivalent of a Triple Lutz, whatever that is.
I also like watching the crew credits because I never learned any of their names during the two months of shooting.
Lopez: What do you want people to come away from the movie thinking/ready to do?
Zucker: I want them to think that An American Carol is one of the best movies they’ve ever seen, and resolve to bring all of their friends back tomorrow. And then to email ten friends, telling them each to email 10 friends, because for a movie like this, it’s the only way to get the word out.
Lopez: How does the guy who wrote Scary Movie — not exactly a movie conservatives would flock to see –go from there to American Carol?
Zucker: Are you saying conservatives didn’t go to the Scary Movies? I’m not sure about that. In fact, AC does appeal to a broader, younger audience. I saw An American Carol the other night with my friend’s 13-year-old daughter who loved it, and said she thought all her friends would too. I think they thought the guy who played Mohammed was “cute.”
Lopez: Do you think it’s important for conservatives to know and embrace your story? Is there work that conservatives can do in Hollywood?
Zucker: The story is told from a conservative point of view, but a good story is embraced by everyone whatever they think about the point of view. I hope everyone embraces it… kind of like a liberal would embrace higher taxes and growing the government.
Lopez: There have been rumors Kelsey Grammar might run for office. Based on your experience with him on the set, would you vote for him?
Zucker: I’d vote for Kelsey for anything! And I wouldn’t even charge him my usual rate.
Lopez: Tuesday night’s debate was what seemed like the most boring debate ever. Did you see it? Did you find humor in any of it? Is there anything funny about this election?
Zucker: This is the least funny election I can remember: People are afraid to laugh at Obama. Obama himself tries to be humorous but falls flat. People who laugh at his falling flat are afraid of being called “racist.” The racists are afraid of being called “flat.” Geez! McCain has a good sense of humor, but I could still help him. Biden doesn’t need to make jokes — he is the joke. Palin actually could get liberals to laugh, but they’re too afraid she’ll shoot them. Go figure.
Lopez: Who would you have play Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin in the movie about this election year?
Zucker: Amy Winehouse. Oh, sorry, I thought you meant in a Hollywood movie. For a Conservative production, uh, Miley Cyrus.
Lopez: What’s your next project?
Zucker: I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to say. Okay, here’s a hint: You’ll notice we didn’t kill off any of the major characters in An American Carol, soooo . . .