October 3, 2008

HE PICKED THE RIGHT TIME TO STOP SNIFFING GLUE:

Hollywood Takes on the Left: David Zucker, the director who brought us 'Airplane!' and 'The Naked Gun,' turns his sights on anti-Americanism. (Stephen F. Hayes, 8/11/08, The Weekly Standard)

For anyone who has ever been on a movie set, the commotion inside Warner Brothers Studio 15 will be familiar: serious-faced actors and actresses quietly rehearsing their lines; the director of photography huddled with his assistants around two high-definition screens inside a small black tent reviewing the last scenes; extras lounging around the set trying both to stay out of the way and to get noticed; carpenters busily working to construct the set for the next scene; a frazzled first assistant director guzzling Red Bull and yelling instructions to anyone who will listen.

"Rolling," he shouts.

Others throughout the cavernous studio echo his call.

"Rolling! Quiet please!"

David Zucker is sitting in a high-backed director's chair with his name on it. (I'd always assumed they were just used for effect in movies, but here one was.) Zucker is looking at a monitor showing the inside of an empty New York City subway station. It's actually just a set--a stunning replica of a subway station--and it sits 15 feet to Zucker's right.

The first assistant director breaks the silence.

"Action!"

The set jumps to life. Two young men--both terrorists--enter the station. They are surprised to see a security checkpoint manned by two NYPD officers. "I'll need to see your bag, please," says one of the officers. The lead terrorist glances nervously at his friend and swings his backpack down from his shoulder to present it to the cops. Just as the officer pulls on the zipper, however, a small army of ACLU lawyers marches up to the policemen with a stop-search order. The cops look at each other and shrug their shoulders. "This says we can't search their bags."

The young men are relieved. They smile fiendishly as they walk toward the crowded platform. As the lead terrorist once again slips the backpack over his shoulder, he mutters his appreciation.

"Thank Allah for the ACLU."

Zucker's latest movie, An American Carol, is unlike anything that has ever come out of Hollywood. It is a frontal attack on the excesses of the American left from several prominent members of a growing class of Hollywood conservatives. Until now, conservatives in Hollywood have always been too few and too worried about a backlash to do anything serious to challenge the left-wing status quo. [...]

Zucker has always been interested in politics. He was raised in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, in a household where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was viewed as either a hero or a dangerous conservative. He was elected president of his senior class at the University of Wisconsin, and, when he addressed his classmates at commencement in the spring of 1970, his speech was serious--a friend describes it as "solemn" and political. Among other things, Zucker condemned the Kent State shootings and lamented the mistreatment of America's blacks. Two years later, he appeared on stage with lefty leading man Warren Beatty and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. Zucker says at the time he was "very liberal." [...]

David Zucker got his start in entertainment right after school. In 1971, he teamed up with his brother and two friends to create an irreverent revue called Kentucky Fried Theater. They drew large crowds to caf├ęs and small theaters in Madison and soon outgrew the college town. They went to Hollywood to chase the dream, and, surprise, the show worked in Southern California, too. [...]

In 1984, one of Zucker's college friends, Rich Markey, suggested he listen to a local Los Angeles talk radio show, "Religion on the Line," hosted by Dennis Prager. Zucker took the advice and soon struck up a friendship with Prager, whose conservative views appealed to Zucker as common sense. Although his politics were evolving, Zucker remained supportive of California Democrats, giving $2,400 to Senator Barbara Boxer in the mid-1990s. He contributed another $600 to an outfit called the "Hollywood Women's Political Committee" which, with members like Jane Fonda, Bonnie Raitt, and Barbra Streisand, probably wasn't calling for low taxes and abstinence education.

Zucker was still nominally a Democrat when George W. Bush was elected in 2000. "Then 9/11 happened, and I couldn't take it anymore," he says. "The response to 9/11--the right was saying this is pure evil we're facing and the left was saying how are we at fault for this? I think I'd just had enough. And I said 'I quit.'"

He decided to write a letter to Boxer, sharing his disgust and telling her not to expect any more of his money. Having never done this before, he asked a friend with the Republican Jewish Committee for help. This friend recommended Zucker contact Myrna Sokoloff, a former paid staffer for Boxer, who had recently completed a similar ideological journey. [...]

The holiday in An American Carol is not Christmas and the antagonist is not Ebenezer Scrooge. Instead, the film follows the exploits of a slovenly, anti-American filmmaker named Michael Malone, who has joined with a left-wing activist group (Moovealong.org) to ban the Fourth of July. Along the way, Malone is visited by the ghosts of three American heroes--George Washington, George S. Patton, and John F. Kennedy--who try to convince him he's got it all wrong. When terrorists from Afghanistan realize that they need to recruit more operatives to make up for the ever-diminishing supply of suicide bombers, they begin a search for just the right person to help produce a new propaganda video. "This will not be hard to find in Hollywood," says one. "They all hate America." When they settle on Malone, who is in need of work after his last film (Die You American Pigs) bombed at the box office, he unwittingly helps them with their plans to launch another attack on American soil.

The entire film is an extended rebuttal to the vacuous antiwar slogan that "War Is Not the Answer." Zucker's response, in effect: "It Depends on the Question."

Posted by Matt Murphy at October 3, 2008 10:11 PM
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