The actor sees the controversial ad as a tribute to the late comic, but apologies to anyone who was offended

By Abby Stern and Mike Fleeman
Updated October 29, 2009 12:10 AM
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

When he agreed to do a DirecTV commercial featuring a scene from Tommy Boy with the late Chris Farley, actor David Spade never dreamed anybody would be offended.

“Slight shock,” Spade told PEOPLE on Wednesday night of the fallout from the ad, which some commentators saw as tasteless. “These commercials are cool. They’re well done. They’re clever. And that they would include Tommy Boy in that company, I thought was very flattering.”

The 30-second spot, airing during the World Series, appears to have been taken directly from the 1995 movie, except that while Farley does his famous “Fat Guy in a Little Coat” routine, Spade, with technological wizardry, promotes DirecTV.

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Spade says featuring Tommy Boy in a commercial series that also has scenes from Back to the Future and Aliens “is so cool” since “we made this thing and people still talk about it.”

“Oh, my God if [Farley] was here, I guarantee he’d be stoked that this little movie is included,” says Spade. (Farley died in 1997 of heart failure linked to an overdose.) “The movie is important to me, and I would hate to offend [anyone] because that’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. So I would apologize to someone who took it that way.”

And Farley’s family also was supportive of the commercial. “It shows him doing what he loved to do most, making people laugh,” his brother Kevin Farley tells PEOPLE. “He would have loved the spot.”

Still, Spade says, if he had to do it over again, he probably wouldn’t have made the commercial. “I wouldn’t want anyone to get a whiff that I’m trying to get something off Chris,” he says.

Spade, meanwhile, organized a charity comedy show Wednesday night at the Canyon Club in Augora Hills, north of Los Angeles. Hundreds of firefighters, who had battling Southern California’s recent blazes, got in free with their guests. Spade also donated $100,000 for a fund for injured firefighters.

“I kind of want to help these guys out,” he said. “And when I saw the fires this summer and I saw the sky was bad this was so overwhelming and so real. And they’re just on 24-hour shifts. I see them, and they sleep like on the ground, and I think that’s when it hit me to do something.”