David Zucker on Making Fun of Liberals

David Zucker made his mark in Hollywood as the madcap brain behind the spoof-comedy classics "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun." But now for something completely different: post 9/11, Zucker experienced a conservative political conversion, and his new film, "An American Carol," is a satire of the Charles Dickens tale featuring a liberal documentary filmmaker named Michael Malone who learns the true spirit of America. Zucker spoke with NEWSWEEK's Sarah Ball. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Your movie is filled with jokes about Hollywood liberals. Was this a hard sell in town?
David Zucker: Hollywood studios did not want to make this. We finally found a French company, of all things, to distribute it. This ends all my snide remarks about the French.

You know, my boyfriend's name is Michael Moore.
Well, I hope for your sake he's slimmer. The real Michael Moore has just ballooned. We cast Kevin Farley, who's just pleasantly on the heavy side.

Why a political film now?
Once I went over to the dark side, I did a couple of political ads. And when I showed them to some live audiences, we got big laughs. I thought, Why not a feature? "Saturday Night Live," Jon Stewart and the rest—they're all funny. But we can make fun of the left, just like they make fun of the right.

Does spoof cancel out message?
No. Back in the early 1980s there were crazy airplane disaster movies that were taken seriously. So we made "Airplane!" and said, "Look, guys, the emperor has no clothes." I'm always trying to find new targets, and the loony-left really appealed to me as a source.

What does Moore think of it?
I saw him on "Larry King Live" and they put him on a split screen with a clip of the movie. He looked pretty surprised by it. But he did come up with a good line: "I thought they cast Viggo Mortensen."

At the end of the movie, Malone is still a liberal but he flips on the war. Why?
For me, [the war] trumps all other issues. I've got some liberal social views, but my conversion came on 9/11. I mean, they're really trying to kill us.