Favorite Male (Community) TV Personality: Ernie Manouse
When Ernie Manouse moved to Space City in 1996 to take a job with Houston Public Media, producing and hosting WeekNight Edition on channel 8, he thought maybe he’d stay here for two years.
“I kept all my moving boxes,” he says. “I still have them.”
That was 22 years and many TV shows ago. The New York native has hosted everything from talk shows to political debates. He’s also known for hosting the U.S. Military Ball and the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and he has served on the boards of the Houston Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Stages Repertory Theatre, and the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater.
Manouse is 48, although his Wikipedia entry lists him as 49.
“But I’m claiming 47,” says the affable host. “That’s what I was last year, and I liked it.”
His partner is local actor Walt Zipprian of The Catastrophic Theatre, where he’s often the foil to Tamarie Cooper on stage. Manouse and Zipprian enjoy going out to different places, but they typically wind up back at Champ Burger. Manouse is such a fan of the old-school burger shack that he named one of his cats Champ. The other is Scout (presumably not a food reference). Although he rides his bike occasionally, he readily admits that his favorite pastime is watching TV.
He was such a fan of PBS’s Downton Abby that he hosted a local after-show called Manor of Speaking. The thirty-minute chat fest featured local guests who talked about the British program’s weekly plot developments—sort of a fancy Talking Dead, if you will. The show aired on 150 PBS stations across the country.
Over the years, Manouse has interviewed countless celebrities, but his favorite was singer and actress Patti LuPone.
“You’d think she’d be a real diva,” he recalls with a laugh. “But she was the absolute nicest guest I’ve ever had.”
And if you want to know who the worst guest was, well, you’ll have to take Manouse out for a drink.
He’s working on a new program that he’ll debut in the spring, but right now you can catch him on Cover to Cover. It’s a companion show to PBS’s The Great American Read, which is an eight-part program celebrating the power of reading.
“It’s like a book club,” Manouse says. “My kind of book club, with no assigned reading!”
Guests include the likes of meteorologist Frank Billingsley, Andrea White, Pierce Bush, and Christina Wells.
“Everybody knows Christina from America’s Got Talent,” Manouse says. “But did you know she reads these real trashy romance novels? Hundreds of them.”
As for Manouse’s favorite book, he’ll tell you it is A Christmas Carol.
“It’s a wonderful story of redemption and compassion,” he explains. “And I think there’s a little Ebenezer in us all.”
Manouse has ten regional Emmy Awards, but he’s hoping for at least one more, maybe for Cover to Cover.
“I think ‘Eleven-Emmy Ernie’ has a nice ring to it,” he says.
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Finalists: Felicia Gulihur, Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez, Chris Valk, Sallie Woodell, Carol Wyatt
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Finalists: Jacques Bourgeois, Brad Pritchett, Eric Edward Schell, Ashton Woods
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Finalists: Julie Mabry, Lo Roberts, Ana Sanchez, Fran Watson, Sallie Woodell
Most Valuable Male Volunteer
Finalists: Jacques Bourgeois, Jeremy Fain, Don Gill, Brad Pritchett, Robert Vasquez
This article appears in the October 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.