Bill Tush hasn’t had a regular gig in six years since he left CNN. But he’s still hungry.
Back in the 1970s and ’80s, Bill Tush was a big-time local TV personality, thanks to a man called Ted Turner. Turner had purchased a small local TV station an Tush became the face of it. He became “Ted’s guy.” First called, WTCG, it eventually became WTBS. And with the expanding medium called cable, Turner turned it into the first national “Superstation.”
There, Tush was the movie host and did a goofy late-night news show on TBS for five years. He got to do all sorts of ridiculous stunts, including sharing the newsdesk with Rex the Wonder Dog and mocking the news well before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
He had his own sketch comedy show for a year in 1980 before joining CNN hosting “People Now,” then “Showbiz Today” and “Showbiz This Week.” For years, he did celebrity interviews and covered the Oscars. He left CNN in 2003. “After 9/11, there was no entertainment news,” he said. “I was coming to work every day doing nothing.”
Tush said he wanted to leave and asked CNN to make it clear it was voluntary. But he said he was lumped together with others who were let go. “I was disappointed the way CNN handled it,” he said. None of the top CNN execs called him, but he did get a call from Ted. “He asked me why I was leaving. We talked, His exact words was, ‘I’m out, too.’ ”
“I actually see Ted more than when I worked for him,” he said. “He’s gotten very mellow.”
For several years, he has struggled to find a new full-time gig. He still emcees events, including Turner’s 70th birthday last November, the Southeastern Emmy’s this past June and a Jeff Foxworhty charity concert in McDonough in April. “I’m Mr. Emcee,” he said.
On top of that, “I’ve been doing different auditions for things. I’ve done voiceovers.” He has a production company and is pitching shows. He does radio interviews to talk about movies. He shows up on a local Honda dealership commercial or two.
“I’m a hard person to place,” Tush said. “I was never a serious news person. I did 20 years of entertainment news on CNN. Before that, I was a comic.”
At the Southeastern Emmys, he jokingly showed a video of what he was doing now. Up on the screen was Tush waiting tables at Ted’s Montana Grill. “I’d say,” he told the customers, “try the wings!”
He now lives in McDonough and still misses the action. “I was under this security blanket,” he said. “Then, bang! I’m in reality. Thirty years and I realized it’s not like it used to be.”
Here was a retrospective on Bill Tush done by CNN from 1999: