Before Bill Tush went to Hollywood for CNN and before TNT, TCM, Cartoon Network and the rest of the Turner Empire invaded the airwaves there was "SuperStation WTBS" a satellite rebroadcast of UHF channel 17 from Atlanta.
Fresh from his cult status as the host/anchor/writer of then WTCG's overnight "newscast" ( sometimes featuring a dressed up dog ) Bill Tush hosted this wacky hour of original sketch comedy taped in the same studio that was used for weekend wrestling programming.
Featuring talent from Atlanta comedy clubs and local theatre groups including future "Saturday Night Live" writers and "3rd Rock From the Sun / That 70's Show" creators Bonnie & Terry Turner and comedienne Jan Hooks, the comedy routines generally centered on TV shows and the TV industry.
"P.U. Magazine" a wicked send up of Group W's nauseating "P.M. Magazine" featured way too cheerful hosts trying desperately to outdo each other.
"60/40" a nearsighted slap at "20/20" and "60 Minutes" featured Tush as reporter "Mickey Hinkley".
"The Tammy Jean Show" featured Hooks as a female televangelist at the height of the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker scandal. Hooks was joined by Bonnie Turner as her Erik Estrada loving organist and Terry Turner as her guitar playing straight-man.
"Captain Space" had Tush in the title role with the cast wearing silver plastic weightloss suits and Hooks as "the ravishing Darla" in a parody of old SciFi B movies that often looked like a human version of the Muppets "Pigs in Space".
Another skit took a swing at a show from the Turner network which inhabited the basement under the WTBS studio where Tush was taped. "Mandy Freebird" hosted "Freebird Reports" an oh-so thinly disguised look at fledgling CNN's "Freeman Reports" interview program.
Local TV news was skewered by "Tri-Cities Action News" (a production of Tri-Cities Action News, copyright Tri-Cities Action News)
In addition to the comedy sketches the program featured any musical act which was passing through or could be talked into coming to Atlanta.
Late night cult record star Slim Whitman ( more than Elvis or The Beatles !) appeared in the premier broadcast followed in later shows by groups including The Vapors and Roseanne Cash.
While never as zany or slick as its higher cost cousins "SCTV" and "Saturday Night Live" the Tush show was nonetheless masterful in its ability to make something of nothing ( in one skit about Santa's reindeer, antlers were made by attaching rubber gloves to baseball caps !)
Should you ever get a chance to see it in reruns (alas doubtful) you will see the budding of the brilliant comedy of Bonnie and Terry Turner in a rare closeup peek.
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