“ZAZ” team reunites “Airplane!” stars Robert Hays and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in the original film cockpit

MADISON, Wis. – Writers, directors and Wisconsin natives, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (ZAZ) went behind the camera today to direct their “Airplane!” stars Robert Hays and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in three new 30-second TV commercials for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. This is the first time cast members Hays and Abdul-Jabbar have been reunited since the making of the movie.

The spots (winter 2013, summer and fall 2014), which will include seasonal aerial footage of Wisconsin, were shot in the original cockpit from the iconic 1980 comedy at the Air Hollywood Studio in Los Angeles, and will debut at the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism next March in Lake Geneva, Wis. ZAZ, Hays and Abdul-Jabbar will make an appearance at the conference.

“The ads will continue to promote the Wisconsin brand of fun while showcasing some gorgeous aerial footage shot throughout the state,” said Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “We’re so fortunate to have talents like the Zuckers and Abrahams as an extension of our marketing team.”

 ZAZ said that it’s great fun to work together and reunite with “Ted Striker” and “Roger Murdock” (the characters played by Hays, Abdul-Jabbar in the film). If negotiations with his agent can be worked out, ZAZ said they’d like to see the “Otto Pilot” join the cast.

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and helped the Milwaukee Bucks win its only world championship in 1971. He was named the Finals MVP that year. While he holds numerous basketball records, his “Airplane!” character of “Roger Murdock” still greets him by fans at appearances throughout the world.

“My experiences playing in Milwaukee and appearing in ‘Airplane!’ remain such positive parts of my life,” he said. “When ZAZ asked, I was more than happy to return to the cockpit to promote Wisconsin, whose great fans launched my basketball career.”

For Hays, this will be his second appearance in a Wisconsin tourism ad. “Hopefully, I can get it right this time,” he said.

Milwaukee-based Laughlin Constable is the marketing agency of record for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at www.travelwisconsin.com.

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