chop and steele

There is a time and a place to pull epic pranks on unsuspecting targets, and the pranks are often pretty hilarious. Recently, however, one prank was received very poorly by the target, and the pranksters are facing a lawsuit because of it. Two men tricked the Wisconsin TV station WEAU-TV into bringing them on as a strongman duo with stunts to show off. When the comedians turned up without any real skills to demonstrate, the WEAU owners weren't too happy, and they've deciding to sue.

Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher posed as a strongman duo going by "Chop & Steele." The prank began when a person calling himself Jerry Chubb emailed two WEAU anchors about the strongmen appearing on the Hello Wisconsin morning show to promote themselves. New York Daily News reports that this "Jerry Chubb" sent WEAU a press release claiming that Chop and Steele were popular contestants on the third season of America's Got Talent. The Hello Wisconsin anchors didn't realize until they were already on the air that Chop and Steele had no idea what they were doing and were definitely not strongmen, and parent company Gray Television is suing Pickett and Prueher for allegedly using false materials and identities to convince WEAU to book them.

The suit from Gray Television claims that Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher infringed on the company's copyright of the Hello Wisconsin episode they appeared on. Additionally, Gray Television wants the court to order Pickett and Prueher's Found Footage Festival to "render a full and complete accounting... of its profits, gains, advantages, and the value of the business opportunities received from the foregoing infringement." Ouch.

If the court finds in Gray Television's favor, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher could actually face some serious financial sufferings. Their Found Footage Festival is a touring festival based on finding bizarre and outrageous clips that they compile and show to audiences. If they intended to feature their WEAU prank and if the lawsuit ends badly for them, they could owe Gray Television a fair amount of money. This wasn't the first time that the two men have pulled a prank on a morning show, but it is the first time that legal action has been taken against them.

For their part, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher don't seem to have any regrets about pulling their stunt on WEAU. Prueher has argued that folks from WEAU could have discovered the ruse with "a simple Google search" and it's really their fault that the prank got as far as it did. The anchors themselves were good sports about the antics of "Chop and Steele," which including smashing woven baskets, chopping flimsy sticks with their hands, and banging tennis rackets together.

All things considered, the prank is gaining a lot more attention now than it would have if Gray Television hadn't decided to pursue legal action. How many of us had actually even heard of WEAU's Hello Wisconsin before this? If the lawsuit doesn't find in favor of Gray, it may have done a big favor for Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher by gaining national attention to their Found Footage Festival. We'll have to wait and see what happens next.

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