A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : GRAND EXPERIMENTS : Maybe If They Put Dennis Prager on an ‘Airplane!’ It’ll Get Off the Ground
When they worked together, the writing-directing team of Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, along with David’s brother, Jerry, were known for turning out a number of hit comedies, including “Airplane!” and “Ruthless People.” But after “Ruthless People,” Abrahams and the Zuckers parted company, working on their own projects--Abrahams directed last summer’s “Hot Shots,” while David turned out his “Naked Gun” films and Jerry directed “Ghost.”
Now Abrahams and David Zucker are reuniting on what, at first glance, appears to be an unlikely project for them--a pilot for a possible series of videos or a television series starring popular KABC radio talk-show host, author and lecturer Dennis Prager. A 30-minute video, “For Goodness Sake,” begins taping this week and will be directed by both Zucker and Abrahams. According to Zucker, who has put up his own money to get the show off the ground, “For Goodness Sake,” which he calls “an experiment,” will highlight Prager’s convictions on morality, ethics and values, against a humorous background.
“This is the only way to get this kind of material out there,” insists Zucker, who says he’s been listening to Prager’s highly rated weekend radio show for the last eight years. “You can’t preach to people, but if you’re entertaining them, you can get away with stuff like this.” According to Zucker, the video will consist of 62 comedy vignettes, some introduced by Prager and featuring such performers as Charlton Heston, Ed Begley Jr., Jon Lovitz, Faith Ford, Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows.
Prager agrees. “The video will be a distillation of a lot of my radio shows and will make a lot of the material more palatable by adding humor to it,” says Prager, who co-authored “The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism.” “It’ll reach a wider audience. People are prepared to be challenged far more when done humorously than when beaten over the head.”
Zucker, who wrote the video’s script with Prager, Susan Silverberg Grossand and Allen Estrin, says that Prager is so popular that he got offers from people in the entertainment industry to work on it, including crew members from “The Naked Gun 2 1/2,” who volunteered their services for deferred salaries.
According to the show’s executive producer, Rich Markey, Sony Pictures, where Zucker’s company is located, asked to get involved with the project after executives read the show’s script. The studio has donated cameras, sound and lighting equipment, trucks and tape stock, in addition to wardrobe, props and sets.