Director Hugh Wilson, the man responsible for bringing us the very first adventures of Mahoney, Hightower and Hooks in Police Academy and also the creator of the popular sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, has passed away at the age of 74.
WCBS-FM’s Scott Shannon remembers Wilson, whose advertising agency represented the Atlanta station he was working at when he was just a “baby DJ” during his transition from “Supershan” to plain ol’ Scott Shannon.
Wilson, Scott says, would come by and sit in the lobby to watch the DJs through the soundproof glass and could be seen taking notes on the different happenings which would later become the hit TV series WKRP In Cincinnati.
“My boss was the same guy that was on that TV show,” says Shannon. “He looked just like him!”
Scott was not the inspiration for Johnny Fever, however, he was Wilson’s muse for the program director, Andy Travis. Scott also remembers all of the other colorful characters from his office who made it to the show — although the receptionist at Scotts office sort of resembled Loni Anderson, she was quite a bit older than the star.
CBS 2 weatherman John Elliot had possibly the most important question about this for Scott… “Did you all get a check when the show became a hit?”
Scott says no, there were no checks but finds it funny when he tells people that the character was patterned after him and they think he’s full of it. Luckily, show friend Erik Nagel had some audio of Wilson himself corroborating the story during an interview because apparently, Erik didn’t believe Scott either.
“He’s a wonderful guy and he’s had a huge impact,” Wilson told Nagel. “He’s one of the reasons maybe if you’ve ever wondered what’s become of me — it’s because I knew how guys like Scott just kept moving, and moving, and moving. Talk about rolling stones!”
Other projects you may remember from Wilson include The First Wives Club, Guarding Tess and Blast from the Past. Wilson was also a comedy writer in the ’70s for Bob Newhart and Tony Randall — but Scott had absolutely nothing to do with inspiring any of those. Or did he? [wink]
Listen to the full audio above.
—Shannon in the Morning/WCBS-FM