(CBS Local)– It’s been almost 40 years since “Airplane!” rocked movie theaters as one of the greatest comedies ever.
On Friday, the movie’s director David Zucker is hosting a live reading of “Airplane!” at Cold Water Canyon Park. The event will be held at TreePeople Headquarters and will feature special guest Robert Forster. TreePeople is a group that plants trees and preserves parks around Los Angeles and all the money raised from the event will benefit the park.
While a lot has changed in the film and TV industry, Forster and Zucker believe that “Airplane!” is a timeless movie.
“It’s a re-imagined reading of the first movie script… 11 actors play 65 parts,” said Forster in a phone interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “All the gags and all the great lines are referenced from the movie. The gags are good and lines are funny.”
“There had been nothing like it before that,” said Zucker in a phone interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “It was a comedy without comedians and that was an advantage because that’s what made it funny. We were treading a very fine line and that made it very difficult to get financing to do Airplane. We were turned down at every studio in town. The executives at Paramount really supported us and that was a big reason why the movie was as good as it was.”
Forster has been in everything from “Breaking Bad” to “Like Mike” and became a household name in Hollywood after his performance as Max Cherry in “Jackie Brown.” Forster was nominated for an Oscar and he says that director Quentin Tarrantino transformed his career.
“It changed my life. Quentin Tarantino walked into a little coffee shop I was in. My career was at the bottom, I didn’t have an agent and I didn’t have a manager. In walks Quentin Tarantino and I called him over. I had auditioned for Reservoir Dogs and he remembered me. Six months later, I saw him in my seat and he offered me a script. He lifted it up and handed it to me and said read this and see if you like it. It’s astounding.”
In addition to “Airplane!”, Zucker has also directed and written films like The Naked Gun franchise “BASEketball” with Trey Parker and Matt Stone and “My Boss’s Daughter” with Ashton Kutcher. While it’s been almost four decades since “Airplane!” first hit theaters, Zucker can still remember everything about the process and working with people like Leslie Nielson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“We had four actors turn us down for the part of the doctor and I don’t think we even knew his [Leslie’s] name,” said Zucker. “We had a particular vision of the movie and we were very confident it would work. Not everyone else saw it the same way, even the actors didn’t see it like we saw it. That’s why we insisted on directing it.
“Kareem wasn’t the first choice either. The original script was written for Pete Rose, but it was summer when we were shooting and he was still playing. We got Kareem and it was so much better with Kareem.”
“Airplane! The Reading! begins at 8pm on September 6.