Saturday, December 8

Yesterday, Katie made the prettiest tree ornaments. I helped with the first one, since we'd never done anything like this before, but she took it from there. I bought clear glass ball ornaments (got 'em in the craft store - 60% off already!) and acrylic paint. You shoot little streams of paint inside the ball and then let them rest, turning them every ten minutes or so to let the colors blend, which they do in a soft, psychedelic marbelized kind of ooze. They are very pretty, and didn't take long to make. Good Christmas gifts for teachers, and so on. More instructions here.
Here's some news for your morning: Bill Tush fired by CNN. Now, you may know Bill Tush as the host of CNN's "Show Biz Today": mild-mannered and calm. But those of us who lived in the Southeast in the mid- to late 70's remember and revere Bill Tush for another reason: his bizarre newscasts on WTCG, which was the name of WTBS before Ted Turner bought it and subsequently turned it into a "Superstation". These were three-minute newsbreaks that aired in the evening, through the middle of the night. His co-anchor for much of the time I watched it was a dog. Most of the time, the dog was wearing a tie.

Even on the Internet, MotherLode of information that it is, I couldn't fine much about this or about Tush's short-lived variety show on WTBS in 1980. Here's what I did find:

WTCG...boy, that brings back a memory or two. Before it went on the bird, it was relayed by microwave to a number of cable systems in the Southeast, including the one I subscribed to in Knoxville, TN back in '79. They had a "newscaster" named Bill Tush who was an absolute scream...in the three-minute newsbreaks 'TCG had in the evenings, he'd come on in anything from a jacket and tie to polo shirt to spaceman suit, and just tear the copy apart...and for a while his co-anchor was a German shepherd dog ("Alex"?) that the camera ops would feed peanut butter while Tush read the lines. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. (from a newsgroup.).

And this, from Jump the Shark:

Tush" was a comedy-variety show (like SNL or Fridays) that aired on Superstation WTBS starting in January of 1981. It was hosted by Bill Tush, one of the station's news anchors, and he was surrounded by a large and hilarious supporting cast most of which were getting their start, which included Jan Hooks (one of the funniest and sexiest women alive, who went on to SNL and "Designing Women) and the brother-sister team of Terry and Bonnie Turner (no relation to Ted) who went on to write at SNL and to create, write, and produce "3rd Rock From The Sun" and "That 70's Show". The highlight sketch each week was the "Hour of Inspiration with Tammy Jean", in which Hooks, as Tammy Jean Pickens (Pickett?) is all sweetness, honeyed voice, and inspirational light in front of the camera, and all ballbuster off of it. Terry Turner played Wade (and guitar) in the sketch, and Bonnie Turner played mousy Rona (and the organ). This show was probably the last gasp of local-station madness for the Superstation before Ted Turner got corporate and compartmentalized on us (Bill Tush, who began as a wacky newsman on WTBS, is now a tame reporter for CNN's "Showbiz Today"). "Tush" was also scheduled against "60 Minutes" for much of its run, so it didn't have much of a break. But "Tush" was a minor, very funny classic--better than SNL or "Fridays" of that same period (though that's not saying a lot), and it deserves to be shown again.


....The most memorable sketch had to be the visit by Mamma, Enigma Jean and Sonny to the drive through funeral parlor to plan Jennelle's funeral. "You know she retained water," said Mamma. "She retained Twinkies and Old Milwaukee" was the reply....

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I remember Bill Tush doing the late night news on WTCG-Atlanta back about 1976 prior to Turner buying the station. Funny, funny stuff. One Easter morning broadcast (about 2:00am), Bill did the entire show dressed in a rabbit outfit.

Jan Hooks was, indeed, hilarious on that show, especially as Tammy Jean. She's a lot more talented that most of her subsequent work has given her a chance to demonstrate (although she had her moments on SNL).

Anyway, so long, Bill. Not that I watched "Show Biz Today" or anything. But I'll always associate him with those early days of cable. My mother and I were big fans of those newscasts, and, I'll admit to you now, somewhere in one of my boxes is an autographed photo of non other than Bill Tush - my father must have gotten for me as a sort of joke, but I don't remember the exact circumstances. I wish someone would dig up those newscasts and make a Tribute to Tush. You'd laugh.

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