‘Air Bud’ Then and Now
‘Air Bud’ told the tale of Buddy, a canine with mad basketball skills. The film was a hit for Disney in 1997 and a theatrical sequel, in which Buddy takes up football, soon followed.
Next came three direct-to-video feature films, each featuring a different sport Buddy had improbably mastered. (Although the dog who played Buddy really could play all of these sports. He was also Comet on ‘Full House.’). The franchise continues with the ongoing ‘Air Buddies’ video series, which follows the not-always sports-related adventures of Buddy’s puppies. (They’re often hanging out with Santa.)
While the draw of an ‘Air Bud’ film has always been the uniquely talented animal, the original movie did also have an interesting cast of humans. See what they are up to these days below.
Kevin Zegers, Josh Framm
Then: Zegers is familiar to ‘Air Bud’ fans as Josh Framm, the 12-year-old who finds Buddy. The Canadian actor got his start as a seven-year-old playing Little Mikey in the Michael J. Fox comedy ‘Life With Mikey.’
Now: Zegers is probably best known in the US for his recurring role as Damian Daalgard on ‘Gossip Girl.’ He was supposed to have starred opposite Hillary Duff in the much anticipated ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ remake but both title roles have been recast due to scheduling conflicts.
Michael Jeter, Norman Snively
Then: Jeter played Norman Snively, the alcoholic clown who owned and abused Buddy before he escaped and became a basketball star. Jeter had been best known for portraying Herman Stiles on the sitcom ‘Evening Shade.’
Now: Jeter died in 2003. He was 50. The movie ‘Polar Express,’ in which Jeter played Smokey and Steamer, was dedicated to his memory.
Wendy Makkena, Mrs. Jackie Framm
Then: In ‘Air Bud,’ Makken played Framm’s mom Jackie. She was familiar to movie audiences thanks to her role as Sister Mary Robert in ‘Sister Act’ and ‘Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit.’
Now: The 54-year-old was a series regular on the recently cancelled drama ‘Mob Doctors.’ She also plays a recurring role on ‘NCIS.’
Bill Cobbs, Coach Arthur Chaney
Then: You may remember Bill Cobb from ‘Air Bud,’ in which he played the janitor-turned-basketball-coach who recognizes Buddy’s b-ball talent. An actor since the mid-70s, Cobbs also co-starred on ‘The Gregory Hines Show’ during that period.
Now: Still busy at 78, Cobbs will portray the Master Tinker in the upcoming fantasy adventure ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’ and will star in the vampire flick ‘Vampires in Venice.’
Nicola Cavendish, Principal Pepper
Then: Cavendish played Principal Pepper in ‘Air Bud.’ Born in England but raised in Canada, Cavendish had starred in Canadian movies such as ‘The Grocer’s Wife.’
Now: Cavendish’s most recent TV appearances include ‘Men In Trees’ and ‘The L Word.’ She is active in Canadian theater.
Brendan Fletcher, Larry Willingham
Then: Fletcher was 15 when he made his film debut as Larry Willingham in ‘Air Bud.’ He already had a TV presence as a recurring character on the Canadian crime drama ‘The Adventures of Shirley Holmes.’
Now: Although he remains a much more familiar face in his native Canada, the 31-year-old recently played Joseph Limerick on the Fox TV series ‘Alcatraz.’
Shayn Solberg, Tom Stewart
Then: Solberg made his film debut as Tom Stewart in ‘Air Bud.’ He reprised the role the next year in ‘Air Bud: Golden Retriever.’
Now: Solberg is probably best known for his recurring role in the SyFy Channel series ‘Eureka.’ In 2012 he popped up in the Canadian TV series ‘Arctic Air.’