06/24/2014 12:02 pm ET Updated Aug 24, 2014

The Return of Airplane!

The other day, I was back in Chicago watching the Cubs game, and an ad came on during the pre-game show. It was very funny and wonderfully done -- far better than most movie parodies, which can be heavy-handed. But I was hesitant to fully appreciate it, since I didn't know if there was any copyright infringement involved, as sometimes has been known to happen. Or what.

It's a parody of Airplane! -- and with members of the original cast -- made all the more notable because it's promoting TravelWisconsin, which is where all three members of ZAZ -- David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, the team who created the original movie -- are from. The Milwaukee area, to be specific.

I've worked with David Zucker on four movies and know Jerry, so I wrote them both to find out if they were aware of the ad. I assumed so, but wanted to be sure that nothing was sneaked in behind their backs. What I heard back from David was --

"Not only do I know about it -- ZAZ wrote and directed it!"

Well, okay, that certainly explains a lot. Not just how well it's done, but also how they got the cast. But what's also particularly notable is that the ZAZ guys haven't worked together as a team in nearly 30 years, staying close but going their separate ways making their own movies. (David, the Naked Gun series and more. Jerry, Ghost and others. Jim, Hot Shots!, among many.)

What I wasn't sure from David's note, though, is whether they all actually wrote and even co-directed it together -- like in their ZAZ days -- or whether he meant in Zucker Shorthand that contractually it was a ZAZ production with required input from everyone, since Airplane! had been a ZAZ film.

Well, it turns out he says that this was a "real," full-fledged ZAZ production, with all three guys writing and directing together, their first co-directing effort since Ruthless People in 1986! And added that they had a great time working together again. Better still, when I heard back from Jerry he noted that they actually did other spots for the Wisconsin Board of Tourism, as well -- and it was so enjoyable that they plan to do others.

But here they are, first, teaming up again for their home state of Wisconsin.

Sorry, that should be -- Wisconsin!


To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.