Wisconsin Tourism ‘Counting On’ David Zucker, Robert Hays

Fasten your seat belts and make sure your tray tables are in their upright and locked positions. Wisconsin native and acclaimed Hollywood writer / director David Zucker and actor Robert Hays – known for their collaboration on the 1980 comedy classic “Airplane!” – returned to Wisconsin today to unveil Zucker’s latest TV ad for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Governor Scott Walker and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett joined Zucker and Hays to preview the summer ad for the state’s tourism industry during the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Madison.

“David and Robert made cinema history more than 30 years ago with the comedy classic ‘Airplane!’ and we are thrilled to have them make history again bringing their comedic talents to full throttle with their fun and playful take on a Wisconsin summer lake vacation,” said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Shooting for the summer TV spot took place last summer at Plum Lake in Sayner, Wis. The story line has all the hallmarks of the previous collaboration between the actor and director and features Zucker’s brand of slapstick humor. Hays plays the part of a befuddled fisherman who finds that it doesn’t take a lot of skill to have fun in Wisconsin. Four Wisconsin women, all former pageant winners, have cameos in the commercial. They are Katie Sawyer of Egg Harbor, Caitlin Machol of Milwaukee, Teaka Griesbach of Combined Locks, and Kristina Schoh of Holmen. The spot will begin airing this May in a variety of Midwest markets. View the ad here.

But, true to form, Zucker isn't flying into town without a few surprises up his sleeve. The director announced that he will direct a third Wisconsin tourism commercial that puts Hays back in the cockpit for an “airworthy” zany flyover of Wisconsin. The ad is tentatively scheduled to start airing winter 2014.

“Wisconsin is home and having a chance to give back by helping support Wisconsin's tourism effort and reunite with old friends such as Bob (Hays) has been a blast,” Zucker said. “After 30 years, Bob’s comic timing is still dead-on and he’s even agreed to let me put him in a plane again. I just hope that he has overcome his fear of flying by now.” Robert Hays said filming the fishing ad was great fun, but he’s a bit reticent to return to the cockpit. “The memories of the war still haunt me, but David has promised me a great co-pilot so that should ease my fears.”

The summer lake spot is the second Wisconsin tourism ad that Zucker has directed. In December 2011, he directed the Department's winter TV spot at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater. That ad, which marked Zucker's first Wisconsin project in 40 years, featured the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performing a concert and breaking into a comedic snowball fight.

“David and Robert made comedy film history with 'Airplane!'" said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “These ads are making tourism marketing history by playing an integral role in our efforts to brand Wisconsin as the go-to place for fun and grow the tourism economy for the state.”

Originally from Shorewood, Wis., Zucker has directed, written and produced successful comedies such as “Airplane!,” “The Naked Gun” series, “Ruthless People” and the last three installments of “Scary Movie.” His new film “Scary Movie 5” opens in theaters in April. Zucker’s brother and frequent collaborator, Jerry, also returned to Wisconsin recently to direct the Department of Tourism's fall 2013 TV spot with Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson. Milwaukee-based Laughlin Constable is the marketing agency of record for the Department of Tourism.