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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
South Park men target Bush
That's My Bush! cast
That's My Bush! cast: No feedback from White House yet
By New York entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

A controversial new sitcom, That's My Bush!, which takes aim at President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, made its premiere this week on US television.

The new series, carried by the cable network Comedy Central, is set behind the scenes at the White House.

It presents a buffoon-like Bush trying to juggle his official and domestic responsibilities, which include trying to keep his very demanding wife happy.

The series comes from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the maverick creators of the celebrated animated satire South Park, which is now in its fourth season.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker
Matt Stone and Trey Parker: Courting controversy again
In keeping with Comedy Central tradition, Parker and Stone have taken an existing genre and given it a new twist - in this case using the TV sitcom to explore the life of the first family.

That's My Bush! is helped enormously by Timothy Bottoms, the American actor who gives a very convincing performance as the President.

Larry Divney, president of Comedy Central, says: "It's an incredible resemblance to President Bush - also he has great mannerisms and a very accessible and soft style."

Bottoms is not mean-spirited in his interpretation. He certainly does not make you dislike Bush - to many viewers he comes across as an affable fool.

The first episode had the President running back and forth between a White House summit meeting of pro-life and pro-choice leaders, and a dinner date with the First Lady, which she would not let him cancel.

Timothy Bottoms
Timothy Bottoms plays Dubya
The American actress Carrie Quinn Dolin plays the First Lady, who at one point ends up inadvertently exposing herself before attendees at an abortion summit.

Everyone featured is the target of ridicule. The pro-choice leader is portrayed as a masculine looking feminist who locks horns with her pro-life counterpart played by an animated fetus.

At one point this strange-looking creature pops up in the presidential bed during a moment of intimacy.

While the show was in production, word leaked out that Bush's twin daughters would be depicted as a lesbian couple.

But Divney said: "That was a script idea that got out that shouldn't have got out.

 Carrie Quinn Dolin
Carrie Quinn Dolin is Mrs Bush
"It is not something we were going to do but it did bring a lot of attention to the show."

Divney says they have not had any feedback directly from the White House yet.

"We would really like to know what President Bush thinks of the show, but I know he's got a lot on his plate right now."

Comedy Central has made a big investment in That's My Bush!, spending more money on this eight-week series than any other show in the network's history.

The sitcom had its premiere in the same week as Comedy Central celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Divney optimistically declares That's My Bush! will become another creative success.

"It will show that we can take an existing format, the sitcom, stand it on its head, shake it up, be extremely provocative.

Carrie Quinn Dolin and Timothy Bottoms
The happy couple: Everyone is a target for ridicule
"We'll get some criticism for it. People will sit back, but everybody will laugh. It's an extremely funny show."

Although That's My Bush! is irreverent the general view among many US TV critics is that it is rather tame and dull.

The show seems to be caught between subverting the traditional TV sitcom and trying to offer soft political satire.

It fails to deliver on both counts. To become a success Parker and Stone will definitely have to sharpen up the satire.

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06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Bush satire is TV hit
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