Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 'Airplane' Spoof Highlights Wisconsin Tourism

Image: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 'Airplane' Spoof Highlights Wisconsin Tourism Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, left, and Robert Hayes.

Monday, 30 Sep 2013 04:12 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actor Robert Hays will flash back in time to their days in the cockpit filming the iconic “Airplane!” to create a series of tourism ads for Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Business Journal said.

In an article headlined “Surely you can’t be serious,” the Business Journal went on-site where Abdul-Jabbar and Hays were filming three ads, directed by none other than David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, all of whom wrote and directed “Airplane!”

The Zuckers and Abrahams, known as ZAZ, are Wisconsin natives.

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

Hays has already been featured in a Wisconsin tourism ad, but it’s Abdul-Jabbar’s first appearance.

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

Abdul-Jabbar played on the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1970s, helping the team win its only world championship in 1971. He played Roger Murdock in “Airplane!” and Hays played Ted Striker. ZAZ has said they’d like to include “Airplane!” character Otto Pilot, a blow-up pilot, in the comedic spoof if negotiations can be completed.

In the movie, Abdul-Jabbar is a co-pilot wearing a Lakers jersey. But in the ads, he’ll be wearing a Milwaukee Bucks jersey.

Hays’ return to the Wisconsin ads will likely be as silly as the first round of ads. In the physical comedy he does so well, Hays invites visitors to view the beauty of Wisconsin, but hopefully a little more gracefully than he does.

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