Bill Harris- Sun Media
"Good morning, scorched earth!"
That's how former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush greets the morning in Crawford, Tex.
Or, shall we say, that's Tracey Ullman's version of Laura Bush greeting the new day.
"I was just obsessed with Laura Bush," admitted Ullman, whose sketch series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union makes its second-season debut Monday on The Movie Network and Movie Central.
"It's that staring thing she does. I just wanted to be Laura Bush, and I thought, she'll be back in Crawford and it will be 115 degrees. And she'd have a lot of 'objet d'art' and doodads to try to fit into the house."
Just listening to Ullman say "objet d'art" in Laura Bush's Texas drawl makes us laugh. In fact, it's Ullman's portrayal of Laura Bush as a smoking, half-wistful, half-relieved housewife that stands out in the first episode of State of the Union's new season.
But of course, Ullman is nothing if not versatile.
In the first episode alone, besides Bush and many of Ullman's own creations, she plays Canadian singer Celine Dion, political pundit Arianna Huffington, CNN reporter Campbell Brown, and Paul McCartney's former beau Heather Mills.
Ullman's take on Mills, by the way, has Mills starring in her own TV show and singing her own Mary Tyler Moore-style theme song, with the final phrase, "I'm gonna make it on me own!" And you can imagine what Mills throws into the air at the end of her ditty. It isn't a hat, we can tell you that.
Later in the seven-episode second season of State of the Union, we'll see Ullman taking a run at Lindsay Lohan's mom Dina, author J.K. Rowling, newscaster Tom Brokaw, and actors Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jodie Foster and Renee Zellweger, among others.
"To impersonate actual people is something I've started to do on State of the Union," said the 49-year-old Ullman, who is from England and first became known to North American audiences as a singer in the 1980s. She subsequently has starred in three separate TV programs: The Tracey Ullman Show (which spawned The Simpsons), Tracey Takes On ... and her current project.
"I always felt (impersonating real people) was Saturday Night Live's domain," Ullman said. "But there were a few people that I really thought, if I'm going to do a trip across America, there should be some celebrities."
Ullman cautioned, though, that exact impressions are not her cup of tea.
"I'm not Rich Little," she said.
"That's not what I want to do."
"I mean, I didn't want to be Sarah Palin, which I think Tina Fey just absolutely nailed. I wanted to be the lesbian that Sarah Palin kept talking about, who was 'my best friend, and I've known her for years.' I'd rather find out where she is. Where is she, Juneau? What does she look like? You know, match it up. I try to go off-piece a little."
One miraculous thing about Ullman is she really hasn't aged much since we first saw her in 1983 in a video for the top-10 hit They Don't Know (which featured a cameo by McCartney, as you'll recall).
Back then, Ullman was seen as an up-and-coming "triple threat," someone who could sing, dance and act. But did getting that tag early in her career ever become burdensome?
"I just have taken a lot of time off in my career," Ullman said. "I've had (two) children. I have a great marriage. It takes me seven years to ever come up with a new show. I've had plenty of years just wandering around, doing the shopping, not getting any attention. I don't have to be on all the time."
Well, we're happy that the multi-talented Tracey Ullman continues to work, even if, uh, she doesn't really have to financially.
"Contrary to reports, I did get a little, little piece of The Simpsons," Ullman said. "It does us very nicely, thank you very much."