Picture this: Your local morning television show has booked a “strongman duo” and your anchors are eagerly anticipating a demonstration of various feats of strength. However, the two guys that end up appearing in a three-minute segment appear to be nothing but low-rent knock-offs of Saturday Night Live characters of the 1980s, Hanz and Franz.
Then, the merry pranksters used the footage of their live on-air appearance as “Chop & Steele” for a promotional video.
While the appearance of funny fraudsters is no laughing matter, it is the promotion of their antics by using footage of the appearance on the website FoundFootageFest.com that has led Gray Television‘s legal counsel to take action against two men seeking to take advantage of their appearance on the company’s NBC affiliate WEAU-13 in Eau Claire, Wisc.
The founders of the website, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, are alleged to have faked their personae so they could appear on WEAU’s “Hello Wisconsin” morning show and then use the footage to promote their brand. According to Law360, FoundFootageFest.com is devoted to scavenged video footage. The men are being charged with fraud and copyright infringement in a New York Federal District Court.
WEAU isn’t the only station that saw the Assignment Editor fail to vet an on-air guest.
According to the New York Post, the suit also noted a former bit in which Preuher — masquerading as “Chef Keith Guerke” — appeared on Local TV LLC’s Fox affiliate WITI-6 in Milwaukee to promote a fake cookbook, “Leftovers Right: Making a Winner of Last Night’s Dinner.” WITI is operated by Tribune Broadcasting.
Again, the issue here is not the fakery behind the on-air appearance, but the subsequent use of footage by Preuher and Pickett to promote their website and “brand,” Gray claims.
RBR + TVBR OBSERVATION: Oh … those wacky pranksters. Hey, we got a laugh out of the WEAU appearance but feel terrible for the Assignment Editor for failing to verify the identity of these two knuckleheads. Yet, the fact these two morons got on the air isn’t the issue here — sadly. The real issue is taking footage from a TV station’s morning show, without permission, and using it to promote what appears to be a commercial venture. Boy are you guys, dumb. But equally dumb are the individuals at both WEAU and FOX 6 in Milwaukee for not properly screening their on-air guests. It only sends the message to people in New York that Wisconsin is “Bush League” and that it’s easy to fool a Midwesterner. Lesson learned: Triple-check every guest you may not be familiar with. Otherwise, your legal bill could suddenly rise.