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April 23, 1991 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-23

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The Michigan Daily
A not-so
interview with
Jerry Zucker
by David Lubliner
It' always degrading to be put in
the position of a mere Public
Relations outlet for some movie.
When Paramount Pictures called
and offered me an interview with
director Jerry Zucker (one half of
the "Zucker brothers" creative
team behind Kentucky Fried Movie,
the Airplane films and The Naked
Gun), it was a hard offer to refuse.
This is the man who directed the
highest grossing, most popular, most
insidious film of 1990 - Ghost.
Hfow could I turn the studio down?
I was part of a conference call with
other college and high school
journalists. This way, Zucker could
speak with as many journalists as
gpssible in promoting his latest
effort as a producer, Naked Gun 2
1/2, which is to be released this
summer. Some exciting excerpts
DL: Mr. Zucker, Naked Gun 2 1/2
tackles current issues such as the
destruction of the environment.
Was it your intention to make a
politically correct film?
Zucker: I hate the term "PC." My
brother David (Zucker, the director

Tuesday, April 23, 1991

Page 8

Jerry Zucker on the set of Ghost "Hey, get me Patrick Swayze right away! We need to reshoot that scene
when he walks through the wall. Where's Demi? Where's Whoopi? Come on people, let's get our act together.
We might get nominated for an Academy Award."

of Naked Gun 2 1/2) is very into
environmental causes, actually. He
drives a solar-powered electric car.
It's still a zany, silly, funny movie
like the first. In that movie, Leslie
Nielson was trying to protect the
Queen of England. This time, it's a
professor doing energy research. But
David has found a way to do so
without being too heavy handed.
A young woman, who only identified
herself as being from Jefferson High
School, chimed in with her query.
High school journalist: What
started you into show business?
Zucker: There was nothing else I
could do for a living. Seriously,
when David and I were kids, we had
a penchant for entertaining people.
We were always the class cut-ups.
When we got to college, we started
making eight-milimeter films and
people liked them. Then we created
the Kentucky Fried Theater. We
would charge admission for people
to come in and see videotapes and

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live skits. At some point in college,
we realized we wanted do this for
our livelihood. That's when we
decided to move to Los Angeles.
A man by the name of Halstead
York, from Hampshire College,
prompted the next response.
York: Why did you originally cast
Leslie Nielson in Airplane?
Zucker: The whole point of
Airplane was that it be done by
serious, straight actors. We thought
it would be funnier for Leslie
Nielson to say, "I am serious and
don't call me Shirley" than to see
Dom DeLuise doing it. He's really a
loony, zany guy with a great sense
of humor. He's sort of a fish in
water in these movies.
DL: What do you feel is the appeal
of the Airplane/Naked Gun style of
humor? Why are these films so
Zucker: Well, I think it's a type of
humor that some people love and
some people just don't get. These
types of movies always have a
ceiling. But for those who like that
zany humor, it's a chance to laugh
for ninety minutes. It's just
complete silliness. You have to like
satire, though, and making fun of
these serious movie clichdsnand
DL: Did you find it difficult to
make your kind of film in
Zucker:Yes, but it's always
A NARbo I&
Heaven & Earth PG-13
The Nasty Girl PG-13

difficult for unknowns to get
started in the movie business. We
put up our own life savings and
borrowed some money from our
parents to film Kentucky Fried
Movie. It ended up to be thirty-
five-thousand dollars for us to film
four bits from it. All the studios
turned us down, but United Artists'
theatres circuit took the film and
played it before another movie and
people laughed. The total budget
was only seven-hundred-thousand
dollars. They figured that it was
worth a shot.
York: Which role, directing or
producing, are you most fond of?
Zucker: I guess directing, just
because you are really making a
movie. There are so many facets to
it. But I can only bring myself to do
it every two years. You have to be
up at five in the morning, get home
at nine, go over your shots and then
go to sleep. It doesn't leave a lot of
time for anything else, so it's
nothing that I could do on a regular
basis. When I am producing, I get to
keep a hand in everything, but I can
go home at five o'clock.
DL: What prompted you to make
Naked Gun, a movie version of the
Police Squad television series,
which wasn't very successful?
Zucker: We felt we had something
good that we had wasted on TV.
And for TV comedy, you have to
have a central fun, fluffy character,
like.a BillCosby or a John Ritter. In
movies, people tend to like stars
that are more dangerous. Take
Patrick Swayze. There's something
volatile about him, something sort
of unpredictable, brooding and a
little bit dangerous.
DL: What advice would you give to
aspiring Hollywood filmmakers?
Zucker: Turn back. No, seriously, if
you want to be a writer, come out to
Los Angeles and read a lot of
scripts. If you want to be an actor,
join a small theater group. Spend a
lot of time working on your craft.
If you have a basic talent, that's
great. But you are never as good as
you need to be. Nobody comes out
here and is Robert DeNiro. Okay, I
think we have time for one more.
D L: Will there be a sequel to
Zucker: I hope not.
Same here, Jerry.

The girls feel
There was no one in either of the
balconies. In fact, the main floor
was not even full. It's a shame that
Tony! Tone! Toni! could not pack
the place, because they really put on
a fine show. The first half hour of
the show consisted of a few songs,
including "The Blues," one of my
favorite singles of 1990, played
straight through. In addition to
their own numbers, the guys
craftily threw in pieces of The
Jeffersons theme and, as the beat
mellowed out, singer/guitarist
Dwayne Wiggins led everyone into a
loose version of A Tribe Called
Quest's "Can I Kick It."
It was pleasing to see that Tony!
Tone! Toni were actually a band
who played, with instruments like
real drums and a Gibson Les Paul
that are rarely seen on stage at
pop/soul shows. As much as they en-
joyed jamming on stage (although
the mix covered up the guitars), it
seemed that the boys enjoyed play-
ing with the young women they
pulled out from their seats even
more. After they got a little play,
they closed the show by expressing
the girls' feelings of the moment
with their hit "Feels Good," played
a little jazzier than on record. Next
time, the band shouldn't cover up
their musical talents for the sake of
a glossy sound. Given the right tune,
they might be able to give the Time
some good competition.
-Andrew J. Cahn
Into the
Woods has
dark meaning
Sometimes the spell may last,
Past what you can see,
And turn against you...
Into the Woods, originally an
elaboratere-telling of several fairy
tales, became a story about personal
growth, maturity and compassion.
In the Musical Theatre
Department's interpretation this

weekend, director John Schak de-
cided to expand the personal ele-
ment, making the show into a
statement about the social history
of the United States during and
since the 1960s. In doing so, Schak
brought out both the strengths and
weaknesses of Sondheim's and
Lapine's original concept, but he
also tried to stretch the plot too
much in one direction and it turned
on itself, nearly weighing itself
down. His version worked, but
largely on the strength of the
show's content. As a viewer pointed
out, "The show succeeded in spite of
A large part of the '60s interpre-
tation existed in the costumes,
which were dazzling and funny, but
rather eclectic. While it is plausible.
that Cinderella's family be dressed.
in '50s-'60s haute couture like any'
social-climbing, upper middle class
family, the royal family would have
better translated as the Kennedy
family - that is, American royalty.
Instead, Cinderella's and
Rapunzel's princes looked like
refugees from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band. Jack's costume,
like the princes', bordered on '70s
style, while several of the other
characters were inexplicably not
translated at all. Despite the quality
of the costumes, they were a surface
manifestation of the directoral con-
cept, and it was never quite clear
how else this concept was mani-
Although it seems unfair to
compare the two shows, the original
is only four years old and its inter-
pretation is still quite fresh. The
performances which most resem-
bled those in the original Broadway
show were the strongest. Erica
Heilman's expressive voice and face
brought complexity and depth to
the Baker's wife. Her duet with
Cinderella's Prince (Todd
McMullen) was especially
poignant, complemented by Mc-
Mullen's rich voice and haughty
manner.sBecca Daniels' Little Red
Riding Hood was delightful with
her childlike voice and impudent
manner suited up in a wolfskin
See WEEKEND, Page 10



The Baker's wife (Erica Heilman) tries to convince Cinderella (Kristen
Behrendt) to give her one of her golden slippers, which she needs in order
to have a baby. "That makes no sense," Cinderella replies.

L e c t u r e

b y

Robert Hass
a uthor of:
ied qGuide
Twentieth Century Pfeaszures


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Nassau offers convenient morning, afternoon, and evening classes that
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T ne [1 9 9 J1]


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Make plans with your friends
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The Jeffrey L Welsberg Fresh
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The Arthur Mi,,er

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I. , ~I

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