Ever since the debut of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King, Joe Exotic’s archnemesis, Carole Baskin, has been quite elusive with the media. It probably has something to do with her trying to avoid speaking about the 1997 disappearance of her ex-husband Don Lewis.
That didn't stop YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, who were able to land the first major interview with Baskin, by tricking her into thinking she was talking to Jimmy Fallon, Variety reports.
Starting Friday, Pieters and Manners launched a three-part series where they pretended to be a late-night host who was interviewing celebrities. Their last two videos had them posing as James Corden of the Late, Late Show, but for their final installment, they wanted to go big. "Here's a chance where we could perhaps interview some high level talent because we are going under the guise of being a really famous show," Pieters told Insider. "And we thought, why don't we take a shot in the dark and go for the most exclusive, hard to reach person in the world, with absolutely no hope of it working?"
Pieters and Manners sent a shot-in-the-dark email to Baskin, in which they claimed to be from Invisible Objects, the production company behind the live segments from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It took a while, but she eventually agreed to an interview.
The duo understands that their stunt has been aided by the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, and the sudden over-reliance on programs like Zoom to stay connected. They also knew that the interview hinged on Manners delivering a confident enough performance that wouldn’t draw into question whether their subjects were part of an elaborate hoax.
"I think it's also very hard when you are live on an interview with who you think is James Corden or Jimmy Fallon, to go, 'Hold on a second, that's not Jimmy Fallon,' when it sounds like him," Pieters said. "You'd have to be pretty sure of yourself and pretty brave to stop the interview."
With the Baskin interview, they were able to pick up soundbites from Fallon, where he mentioned relevant talking points with the Big Cat Rescue founder, such as cats. "As you'll see in the video, Jimmy Fallon has interviewed people named Cat, he's interviewed the cast of 'Cats,' and he's actually interviewed a real cat," Pieters said. "So we had quite a lot of options for using the word cat. We tried our best to make it work with that."
Even though there is a prank element to what Pieters and Manners are doing, they were more interested in conducting a social experiment to see if the could convince someone into thinking that they were part of a real interview, which is why you will not see any talk about Don Lewis. "I think she did an interview for a local paper in Tampa where she's from," Pieters said. "But this was her first worldwide exclusive interview, which is just quite something."
Baskin spoke to Us Weekly about the prank, and didn't seem too miffed. "I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped," she said. "But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank. It gave us a very welcome good laugh. I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don’t feel was in any way mean-spirited.”
Check out the video up top to see how it all went down.