February 07, 2005


"I couldn't believe it. The policeman giving me a ticket turned out to be a groundhog. I was all like, Wh-wh-whaaat?!'"

That’s only one of many declarations of shock from everyday men and women getting a taste of sweet reality TV and sour hoaxes on MTV's latest prank show "Punx'd" created and starring 117-year old groundhog thespian and seasonal prophet, Punxsutawney Phil.

"He desperately wanted to get out of the hole he’d dug for himself." said John Dobbins, Phil's top-hat wearing handler. "Sure, every year the nation looks to him for that six week prediction, but he's got so much talent. It was a shame to leave it hidden in his tree stump home.

"So he came up with the idea, the show, everything. [Punxsutawney Phil] pitched “Punx’d” to MTV and the rest, as they say, is history."

"Punx'd" follows a familiar format established by television prank shows "Candid Camera" and "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment". Put unaware Americans in hilarious situations with a kooky character and simply let the cameras roll. The joy comes in the revelation that it’s all an elaborate set up. And also that grown adults have been hoodwinked by a groundhog.

"Lord, praise Him. I thought I was going to die!" It sounds serious, but Karen Essex, 53, from Kettering, Ohio had nothing but laughs describing her “turbulent” run in with Punxsutawney Phil during a recent prank that was cut from the show amidst national security concerns.

"I'm on the plane and the stewardess is handing out soft drinks. She disappears behind us and all of the sudden there's this Arab in a turban. He has a knife and he's hijacking the plane! Scared me to death. I called my husband on my cell phone and began to sob. I was absolutely panic stricken and hysterical. I told Harold I loved him and I was going to die. Well, guess what? That darned Arab turned out to be a ground hog! It was Punxsutawney Phil up to his mischief again. Not only that, but the little rascal was the stewardess too! I still have no idea how he changed his costume so quickly."

Entertain Me Weakly scheduled a chat with the “Punx’d” star and after three hours waiting for Mr. Phil to arrive, I was informed the little groundhog had been my bartender the entire time. And let me tell you, the little beast makes a mean Manhattan.

Punxsutawney Phil assured me that his new-found celebrity status hasn't gone to his furry, adorable head. He still enjoys the simple pleasures of life: cashews and sunny days. The normally cordial burrowing mammal did get a bit testy when I asked him if there was any truth to recent rumors linking him with hotel heiress and reality TV star, Paris Hilton. The two were seen canoodling in the VIP room of Manhattan strip club, Scores.

When Entertain Me Weakly followed up with a teetering Ms. Hilton about her new friend she punched and spat at me before saying she loves animals and tipsily hugging me.

With a hip new show, a boozy, socialite girlfriend and more mischievous merriment, it looks like spring has certainly sprung for America's favorite groundhog prophet turned prankster, Punxsutawney Phil.

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