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‘Airplane’ director: Andrew Breitbart was a ‘terrific guy’

March 2, 2012 |  9:59 pm

One doesn’t imagine George Clooney, James Cameron or most other mainstream Hollywood filmmakers rending their garments for Andrew Breitbart.

The conservative firebrand and founder of the Big Hollywood website, who died Thursday at 43 of an apparent heart attack, reserved a certain kind of vitriol for the filmmaking establishment, whom he saw as out of touch and agenda-peddling, to name two lesser charges. As my colleague Patrick Goldstein wrote in Friday’s Times, Big Hollywood has been fond of running headlines like “Game Change: Meet the leftists who turned HBO into a pro-Obama Super-PAC."

But at least one successsful filmmaker says that Breitbart is a man to be missed.

“He was a terrific guy,” David Zucker, the director behind “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun,” told 24 Frames shortly after Breitbart died Thursday. “He’s everything that people say he was: great,” said Zucker, from whom the comments come as little surprise -- he's a known supporter of conservative causes. “I think of his quote that, 'If you’re taking a lot of flak, it means you’re over the target,'" Zucker said.

In his life, Breitbart had returned the favor. The conservative pot-stirrer was supportive of Zucker’s 2008 Michael Moore send-up “An American Carol.” While the late blogger and Zucker were not social friends, the filmmaker said they would see each other at events and bond there. “We felt the same philosophically and politically,” Zucker said.

Among Breitbart’s go-to-claims about Hollywood is that known conservatives do not get the same breaks in the movie business as known liberals. Breitbart and Big Hollywood were prone to pointing to a range of actors and filmmakers to make their case, though such claims always were a little ill-fitting with conservatives' other favorite anti-Hollywood charge: that entertainment moguls are so godless and profit-hungry they would make a movie about Hitler if it was financially expedient.

Zucker, whose “Carol" was not a success, said that, unlike Breitbart, he had the misfortune of working in a medium that did not support his way of thinking. “[Conservative themes] work in radio and the blogs but not in the movies,” he said. “Movies are supported by liberals, not conservatives.”


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Andrew Breitbart. Andrew Burton / Getty Images