April 20, 2006

It’s Showtime Sonoma: Fakery, False Claims, and Fistfights?

Remember the “Snow Walker” footage of a “Yeti in a snowfield.” It turned out to be a fake that the producers of Paranormal Borderland, an old UPN program that lasted about two episodes, created to boost the ratings of their first show.

Now the obnoxious Penn & Teller and their BS Showtime Network program are claiming to have done something similar. Do they want news outlets such as Cryptomundo to talk about them because we have ignored them so well? Of course they do.

A teaser digital preview for their forthcoming “cryptozoology” episode on Showtime is broadcasting that they faked the “Sonoma video.”

Cryptomundo readers will recall that I felt the Sonoma Bigfoot footage was a fake from the beginning. I even titled my posting the “So-no-no-ma video.” I didn’t have to talk that much about the credibility of the guy who took the video, Mark Nelson, a member of the rock band Total Nutcase, as the footage itself telegraphed “fake.”

Penn & Teller decided to pick out an easy target, and attack cryptozoology. No surprise there. Here’s their program’s edited promo text:

Season 4, Episode 4: Cryptozoology BULLSH*T tours Inverness, Scotland, the home of the Loch Ness Monster, with two “cryptozoologists” who try to lure the mythical giant of the deep to the surface… with a bag of fish guts. Later, we investigate the latest mysterious Bigfoot footage posted on the internet. In between, we check in with some credentialed scientists for their take on the bullsh*t “science” of Cryptozoology. Will our scientific experts conclusively debunk the existence of mythical creatures? Here’s a hint: Crypto means “hidden” while zoology stands for the study of animals. Put them together and what do you get? BULLSH*T!

Why waste your time?

Although I did not wish to identify them at the time, I wrote about these guys here, back on November 8, 2005. P & T, through a variety of less-than-honest initial producer contacts, tried to “cover” the cryptozoology conference at Bates College last October. Several of us linked to the Bates conference caught on to their rather deceptive approach. I see they went on to others, of course.

Is the Sonomo Bigfoot video a fake? Most probably. Did P & T fake it? Who knows? Is the guy claiming to have filmed it a Showtime producer or plant, a P & T henchman or fellow traveler, or merely a faker who then subcontracted with P & T? Or are P & T pulling off the ultimate double-fake gaff to take credit for a hoax they didn’t even create? Are P & T trying to get publicity for their program? Of course.

The following is BFRO director Matt Moneymaker’s online response to the new Showtime promotional teaser.

Regarding the stupid claim by Penn & Teller that they faked the Sonoma footage:

Their claim is false. They didn’t have anything to do with the footage. They are just trying to get a buzz going about their show. They are trying to trick people into tuning into the program. It’s a ploy, don’t fall for it.

They were trying desperately to license the Sonoma footage. Mark Nelson agreed that it wasn’t a good idea to let them have it. He would have OK’d it, and even encouraged it, if he would have been involved with them. He’s a real person, yet they say it was only a front on a web site.

A clever route they are taking now … by claiming they shot it themselves in the Valley… They don’t live in the Valley. They live in Las Vegas, and work six nights per week there. They only have time to do voice-overs for their Showtime shows.

Notice how they only showed the web version of the footage on their promo. That’s the best clue that they are full of crap. They would have showed the guy in the costume holding the mask in his arms. They would have shown clips of how they set up the footage. They would have shown Mark Nelson … the person that a few us spoke with … but they can only show what is available on the web, because that’s all they have.

Keep in mind, as P&T see it, they are breaking no laws by perpetrating this hoax. The hoax is not the Sonoma footage itself, but rather their claim that they faked the Sonoma footage.

They won’t go to jail for that, or get sued for that, but they will probably increase their ratings by making that claim.

It’s a nicely clever ploy when you think about it … They know it will be difficult to show that they are lying. And any attempts to discredit their claims will only bring them attention as pranksters and help their ratings.

So they are pranksters if they faked the footage, and they are pranskters if they did not fake the footage.

Very clever.

… And Bigfoot do not exist, and all the witnesses over the centuries were lying or hallucinating the exact same things …

…. or Penn and Teller are full of sh*t and trying to boost the ratings of their Showtime program ….

Which is more likely?

Does it matter? Penn & Teller is the least enjoyable of programs around, they don’t add anything intellectually or funny to life, and now they are claiming to have faked footage that appeared fake to me from the beginning. I don’t know, Mark Nelson could be part of their fakery here, and, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, does it? P & T’s inflated sense of their own self-worth speaks for itself, and I won’t put it past these tricksters to have set up this melodrama between themselves and the BFRO, for more viewers.

Remember these are the same folks whose producer told me that, due to their program, some people “receive some comedic treatment from Penn & Teller based upon what they say.” Their producer told me I was more or less a fool for not appearing because it was “a national, 4-time Emmy award-nominated series and [guests] get a great plug for their books, services or whatever their line of business may be.” Yeah, right.

In the end, who cares? Penn & Teller allegedly claim Bigfoot fakery, BFRO and Matt Moneymaker allegedly claim Bullsh*t falsehoods, and the verbal fistfights break out. Won’t this all merely feed a ratings frenzy for the debunkers, skeptics, fakers, and fellow travelers?


For a full copy of the release being used by the production company doing the interviews for the Penn & Teller program, please click here.

Interestingly, you will note that Penn & Teller’s release says they would have “the right to edit for any purpose whatsoever (including, without limitation, an informative, instructional, humorous or satirical effect) delete, dub and/or fictionalize the Footage.” Now that’s quite a license to fake whatever they want from anything one might say during their interviews.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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