Which came first, the ‘Gun’ or the ‘Squad’?


TV Pipeline

Leslie Nielsen

Q: Did the “Naked Gun” movies come before or after the TV series “Police Squad!”? — Ryan Price, Providence, R.I.

A: After. Though the success of the 1980 movie “Airplane!” earned the comedy-filmmaking team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker a series order from ABC by putting a cop-show spin on the same sort of satire with “Police Squad!” — for which they brought along “Airplane!” co-star Leslie Nielsen — the show lasted for only a handful of episodes, despite having a cult following that since has led to its release on DVD and Blu-ray.

ZAZ (as those moviemakers collectively were known) were undaunted and gave the idea another shot by transferring it into “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” in 1988, and keeping Nielsen on board as rather clueless detective Frank Drebin. The picture was a sizable hit, leading to two sequels, and also setting Nielsen up for a second career as a humorous leading man when most of his projects before those had cast him in a serious vein.


Jensen Ackles (left) and Jared Padalecki

Q: I heard that a number of shows made in Canada had to shut down, after they had started production again, because of the pandemic. Does that mean the series finale of “Supernatural” will be delayed again? — Rob Conway, via e-mail

A: Not as long as all of the post-production work (editing scoring, etc.) can be completed remotely, since stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki had completed filming on the long-running CW show by the time other series were impacted by a delay in the processing of a huge number of COVID tests. As of this writing, the last episode remains scheduled for Nov. 19, with a retrospective special also airing that night.


Q: The reference David Letterman made to Shelley Long on the recent Primetime Emmy Awards seemed to come out of left field. What was that about? — Jennifer Duke, via e-mail

A: Standing on the side of a country road as a tuxedo-clad Emmy presenter, Letterman decided to give another workout to some jokes he told as an Emmy host in 1986. Then a major television star in “Cheers,” Long also hosted that ceremony, so that’s where the reference came from. It was quite a contrast of styles — noted by many reviewers at the time — since Long was very much a part of the industry “establishment,” a group Letterman famously reveled in mocking (and continued to, long after that ceremony was over). Both of them also were nominees that night, and Letterman came away with an award as part of the writing team for his late-night show, which then was on NBC.


Q: I liked the work of ABC reporter Tara Palmeri, but I haven’t seen her in some time. Is she still with the network? — Gene Whitman, Norman, Okla.

A: She isn’t. Very visible as a White House correspondent for ABC News after stints at CNN and Politico, she left her latest television-network job to be on the team (also including frequent Will Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay) that started the podcast “Broken: Seeking Justice,” about the Jeffrey Epstein case and many of the people who were impacted directly by it. Palmeri also is working on other projects in the podcast space.


Q: Is it true that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy worked together before “Star Trek”? — Jim Hayes, Bexley, Ohio

A: It is. Both did a lot of TV guest-star work earlier in the 1960s, and for each of them, one of those gigs was a first-season episode of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” titled “The Project Strigas Affair.” Shatner’s character was on the side of the good guys while Nimoy’s wasn’t.

That might have remained the only time they worked together, had the Jeffrey Hunter-played character Christopher Pike in the original “Star Trek” pilot not been converted into Shatner’s James Kirk for that series. Nimoy had the role of Spock throughout the whole project, and in addition to the movie sequels that followed, he reunited with Shatner in an episode of the latter’s police show “T.J. Hooker.”


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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 2491 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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