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Punxsutawney Phil Gets Royal Treatment Prior to Groundhog Day Prediction

Aired February 1, 2001 - 4:53 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: By this time tomorrow, we will know whether we're in for another six more weeks of winter or an early spring; at least we'll know if you're the sort of person who believes pudgy rodents.

CNN's Jeanne Moos points out that Punxsutawney Phil makes the most of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a groundbreaking trip for a groundhog: his own plane, his own limo, even if the driver who first picked Phil up at the airport thought he was looking for a Mr. Punxsutawney.

MOOS (on camera): You're picking up a groundhog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I've never picked up a groundhog before.

MOOS (voice-over): Neither have we. Did he appreciate the limo's mirrored ceiling? He never even glanced at the view. You can take Phil out of Punxsutawney, but you can't take the Punxsutawney out of Phil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He eats, sleeps, and gets his picture taken. That's his lifestyle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LIVE WITH REGIS")

REGIS PHILBIN, TALK SHOW HOST: Punxsutawney Phil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Phil made the rounds, from "Regis" to "The Early Show," where we met this CBS page.

SHENENDOAH WILLIAMS, CBS PAGE: My dog is named Punxsutawney, and my mom said, be glad I had you first, or I'd be named Punxsutawney.

MOOS: Phil was accompanied by top-hatted groundhog club members and Pennsylvania tourism officials. He even had his own ads.

Why have a media blitz for a groundhog?

BARBARA CHAFFEE, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM: As a -- for people to think of Pennsylvania as top-of-mind. With all the...

MOOS (on camera): As what?

CHAFFEE: Top-of-mind awareness.

MOOS (voice-over): At the top of my mind were Phil's teeth.

(on camera): He needs Rembrandt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warn Regis that he will bite.

MOOS (voice-over): A local weather forecaster almost found out the hard way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do weather, I do weather, we should do weather together. I don't know about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could be the Punxsutawney death grip. You know, we've seen it, it's not pretty.

MOOS: Which explains why Phil's handler, Bill Deeley (ph), wears two pairs of gloves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a stainless steel mesh.

MOOS: Phil even bit Bill at the premier of the film "Groundhog Day." Another groundhog, the one in the movie, bit Bill Murray during the driving scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GROUNDHOG DAY")

BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: Don't drive angry!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: One place the real Phil didn't get driven to was "The Today Show."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted us not to do Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, but they wanted us to do a Punxsutawney version in New York on "The Today Show."

MOOS (on camera): On "The Today Show?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On "The Today Show."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you might imagine what we told them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No thank you, Jose.

MOOS (voice-over): But Phil did get the royal treatment at the Renaissance New York Hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It'll be our pleasure to serve Punxsutawney Bill.

MOOS (on camera): Phil; Phil.

(voice-over): Phil made a beeline under and out from under the bed, with a quick check in the mirror. His handler, by the way, owns a funeral home.

(on camera): And taxidermy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we don't do taxidermy.

MOOS (voice-over): Never mind that "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck" stuff. What this woodchuck would like to chuck -- is the press.

(on camera): He really does like me.

Ow! He's nibbling.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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