July 24, 2012
This morning I decided to take a trip down to my former boss
Ted Turner’s office. Figured while I was making the trip I could bring along
the empty Mason jar I had that contained some homemade jelly. It was made by someone on Ted’s staff at his
plantation in Florida. The jar by the
way was clean and I thought it would just be funny to return it.
Sure enough the person I see when I get off the elevator is
Ted. “Bill,” he says, “What are you up
to?” “Just returning this jar, it
belongs to you.” I know he doesn’t have
a clue what I’m talking about but we have had conversations like that for forty
I then go into Suzan Tatum’s office. Suzan is also a friend of forty years and one
of Ted’s two assistants. She is looking
over Ted’s schedule and mentions that he is going over to Turner Studios to do
Q&A with employees. What the
occasion was I don’t know. I said, “I
would like to go to that.” Suzan says
she would too and since we are from the original days it could be fun.
Wait, I’m wearing a shirt and jeans hardly an outfit for a
company event. I mean I would be going
with the former Chairman and he was nicely dressed. Here goes the mad dash to get an outfit. Ted’s number one lady, Debbie is calling
around for a sport coat. She looks in
Ted’s office closet, no luck. Miss
Lillian, his sweet housekeeper who works upstairs in the Penthouse saves the
day. She goes up and gets me one of his blue blazers. That’s all he has by the way, a hundred blue
blazers. Debbie finds me a tie. Now here I am dressed and ready to go.
Suzan and I are going to ride with two other ladies in their
black Lexus. Ted is in a black SUV. His driver Carol says to follow her. She puts on the four way flashers and I tell
the girl driving the car we are in to put on hers and we can look like a
motorcade. She does and there we are
heading to Turner where we are whisked in past the guard shack and into the
building with security surrounding us.
Into the green room we go, on the way I’m being said hello
to any number of folks that are from the old days. Most I recognize. A camera crew is walking backwards following
Ted’s every move. We do a tour of the studios. I said to Ted, “It’s come a long way from
what we had?” He says, “Empty rooms, you
can’t do ideas and programming in empty rooms.”
Later on he said to me, we did a lot more in the studio we had. He was right, all those empty rooms and
nothing going on.
Well, he does his sit down video-taped interview in front of
a hundred or so employees. There were no
questions and answers. We all went to
lunch in the TBS cafeteria. I told Ted
he has to pick out what he wanted. I
pointed to the pizza and sandwiches then told him that you have to pay over
there at the cashier stations. Some P.R.
people jumped in and picked up the tab.
Many of the Turner bigwigs came over to me to say
hello. They were my best pals and
fans. Ya, when I’m standing there with
Ted! When I’m there with my cup and
pencils they completely ignore me.
Typical Ted, after about fifteen minutes of sitting around
making small talk off we go. Back into
our mini-motorcade and back to the office.
He never did notice I was wearing his coat and tie I’m sure he was more
concerned about the jar I brought back.
It was a very unexpected event and that’s what makes it all
fun. As they say you couldn’t have
planned it that way.