With college friends Jerry and David Zucker, Jim Abrahams is co-founder of the Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1969. ZAZ (as they came to be known) subsequently moved their satirical group to Los Angeles and set up a theater there. They made their first venture into feature filmmaking with “The Kentucky Fried Movie” (1977). Directed by John Landis, the film was a memorable series of absurd, vulgar and (mostly) wildly funny send-ups of popular culture. Most of their subsequent work has been in a similar vein. “Airplane!” (1980), “Top Secret!” (1984) and “The Naked Gun” (1988) pay satirical homage to, respectively, the disaster film, the spy film and the police film. Trademark features include scattershot pop culture allusions, rapid-fire anything-for-a-laugh gags, and rugged, but notoriously stiff, second echelon actors from the 1950s (e.g., Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves).
Like his creative partners, Abrahams has ventured into a solo career as a writer… read more
With his younger brother Jerry and high school pal Jim Abrahams, David Zucker is responsible for a series of corny, but often hilarious, spoofs of popular movie genres. The Zucker brothers first collaborated on comic Super-8 films they made as they were growing up in suburban Wisconsin. After completing studies at the University of Wisconsin, he and his brother teamed with Abrahams to form the multi-media troupe Kentucky Fried Theater, which combined live-action with video and film. Relocating to L.A. in 1972, the trio opened a West Coast branch of their show and over a four year period became a critical and audience success.
The three raised enough money to finance a collection of short parodies that became the raunchy indie “The Kentucky Fried Movie” (1977). The team, often referred to as ZAZ, first enjoyed mainstream success with “Airplane!” (1980), a gag-filled parody of disaster epics that successfully cast such stalwarts as Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack and… read more
Along with his directing partners Jim Abraham and brother David Zucker, Jerry Zucker all but revolutionized comedy in the 1980s, starting with arguably the most famous cinematic parody, “Airplane!” (1980). Prior to that surprising commercial success, Zuckers and Abraham wrote the cult classic, “Kentucky Fried Move” (1977), an uproarious comedy of unconnected sketches that skewered kung-fu movies, exploitation films and public service announcements. After “Airplane,” Zuckers and Abraham made a failed attempt at television with “Police Squad!” (ABC, 1982), before bouncing back on the big screen with “Top Secret!” (1984). With the trio going their separate ways, Zucker began making more mainstream movies, directing “Ruthless People” (1986) and the surprisingly romantic drama, “Ghost” (1990), starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. He also turned “Police Squad!” into the successful film franchise, “The Naked Gun – From the Files of Police Squad!” (1988) before helming “First Knight” (1995… read more