Five TV morning shows were duped last year by a Queens, N.Y., comedian posing as a famous chef.
The comedian, Nick Prueher, posed as Chef Keith Guerke, a chef who sent press releases out to numerous TV stations to promote his new book. Five local TV news stations in Wisconsin and Illinois then had him as a guest on their morning shows. He “conceived and orchestrated the Chef Keith prank” with his comedy partner Joe Pickett.
The five pranked outlets were, according to Media BIstro’s TV Spy,
- CBS-affiliate WSAW,
- Fox-affiliate WITI,
- NBC-affiliate WJFW,
- NBC-affiliate WREX
- Fox-affiliate WQRF
Prueher told iMediaEthics by e-mail why they did the stunt. “There really was no statement we were making here about the local news; we were just bored while home for the holidays and thought this would be a funny thing to try,” he wrote. The stations selected were ones “within driving distance” of where he and Pickett were staying for the holidays.
“Morning news show anchors are the perfect foils for this kind of thing because their job is to keep the segment moving and keep a smile on their faces even when things are going horribly awry,” he continued. “I give them a lot of credit, actually. I’m the one who comes out looking like the biggest idiot.”
To support his fake career as a book-writing chef, Preuher’s press release included a fake book cover image. His fake book for the stunt was titled Leftovers Right: Making A Winner Of Last Night’s Dinner. Prueher sent iMediaEthics a copy of the press release he used. Check it out.
“No one checked any of this,” Prueher told the New York Daily News.
A video of one of the interviews is published on Prueher’s comedy website, Found Footage Website.
In his interview with Milwaukee Fox-affiliate WITI’s Nicole Koglin, Prueher discussed his book, and demonstrated some suggested ways to use leftovers from Thanksgiving. Ideas included making a mashed potato ice cream cone with “corn sprinkles” and a “cranberry cherry” on top.
“Look how cute that is,” WITI’s Koglin said.
The segment also showed the cover of the phony book, and promoted a book signing that day at 1 PM at the Barnes and Noble at Mayfair Mall. (Preher said in the interview that he might cancel the signing because the books might not be there..)
One Quick Phone Call could have Shown the Book was Questionable
On March 10, iMediaEthics called the Barnes and Noble Mayfair store, the store where the chef was having his alleged book signing, according to the WITI segment. We spoke with community relations manager Lindsey Anderson, who said she was familiar with the prank story.
“No, we never did have a book signing here and we never had any conversation with either the author or the publisher regarding the signing,” she told iMediaEthics.
We asked if any news stations called to confirm the signing back at the time of the interview. “The station never had called to confirm,” she said.
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Legal Letter from WSAW
Prueher told iMediaEthics that while he and Pickett haven’t “heard back from any of the news stations directly,” they did get a legal letter from WSAW, the outlet whose interview they feature on their website. “A lawyer representing WSAW emailed a ‘cease and desist’ letter and filed a copyright claim with YouTube to temporarily take down the video,” he wrote.
Daily Mail botches names in its article
The Daily Mail, which reported on the pranks, botched the names of the players in the prank, iMediaEthics notes.
It reported that “Keith Guerke posed as a chef and author,” and that “Guerke and his partner Nick Prueher are the minds behind Found Footage Fest.” The Daily Mail also said that “Joe Pickett went on five local talk shows.”
However, Keith Guerke is the fake chef persona Prueher used. Pickett is Prueher’s comedy partner.
When we asked Prueher about the confusing names used throughout the Mail article, he responded “Wow, the Daily Mail really messed it up.”
Comedian plans to prank again
Based on this experience of easily duping the media, Prueher said he may try to trick the media again, the Daily News reported.
“The Internet has a short memory,” he said. “We have ideas for next year. There is no end in sight.”
The Daily News noted that the comedians previously “pranked some stations in 2010 with a friend who posed as Kenny Strasser, the yo-yo artist who taught lessons on the environment.”
iMediaEthics has written to Fox 6’s Koglin and Fox 6 Now station manager Chuck Steinmetz. We’ve also written to WSAW news director Mikel Lauber, WREX news director Josh Morgan and WQRF Vice President/General Manager Jon Skorburg asking for comment on the prank and how Prueher made it on the air. iMediaEthics has also reached out to Prueher for more information about his stunt. We’ll update with any response.
WJFW news director John Quarderer declined to comment to iMediaEthics. “I’m leery about commenting,” he said via e-mail.
Hat Tip: Food World News