WESLEY CHAPEL — Producers from Comedy Central's Colbert Report have spent the past two days in Pasco County asking residents, school district officials and even a Times reporter whether the school district has wizards in its midst and, if so, whether they're good or bad wizards.
Their interest stems from a story gone viral on the Internet about Jim Piculas, a substitute teacher who claims he was fired for "wizardry." His tale, first reported by the local ABC news outlet, bounced across the world and, not surprisingly, into the hands of the folks at Comedy Central.
They have interviewed families in the park, who have said they didn't know much about the story. They've talked to School Board chairwoman Kathryn Starkey, who says she tried to emphasize that Piculas' firing had everything to do with his classroom management failures and nothing to do with a 30-second disappearing toothpick magic trick. And they've even got Piculas on the hook for some face time.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino and her staff turned down the chance to appear on the satire show. But Starkey, a Colbert fan, said since the average Joe on the street would be talking, the district should give the "true story." Besides, she told the Times, "It's fine when you can laugh at yourself."
She wouldn't go so far as to opine on Piculas' wizard-ness, though. The interviewer "tried to get me to say whether I thought he was a bad wizard or a good wizard. I said I didn't know. I never met the man."
Field producer Nicole Savini said it takes between one and two weeks to put together the four-minute segment.
The air date hasn't been set yet.