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Tiger King set off a media storm when it was released by Netflix in March. With many people suddenly doing way more streaming than they had been doing previously, the docuseries about Joe Exotic and the many intriguing people and wild events surrounding him and his roadside zoo became an instant hit that captivated audiences. Viewers quickly binged the series and wanted more, so many of the people seen on Tiger King gave interviews after it was released, with Joe Exotic's supposed nemesis, Carole Baskin, being critical of the show and far less willing. Two YouTube pranksters just got Baskin to do an interview, but only because she thought she was talking to Jimmy Fallon.
Those who either watched Tiger King or who've been following the aftermath of the show's release, will know that people featured in the series, such as fellow zoo owner Doc Antle, Joe Exotic's ex-husband John Finlay and even Exotic himself (from federal prison), have spoken about the things shown in the series since it debuted. Carole Baskin, the big cat-rights activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue who Exotic saw as a threat and tried to have murdered, has really only come out to talk about how disappointed she is that Tiger King didn't deal with the issue of animal cruelty the way she was promised, and has declined several interviews about the show.
But, YouTube pranksters Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, who have been able to convince some big stars in the U.K. to give interviews which turned out to not be for the outlets they thought they were being interviewed by, have now done the same with Carole Baskin. And, they went through a lot to secure and complete her interview, which, obviously, was not for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The whole process was posted to the duo's YouTube page, including the interview they were able to do with Baskin, and you can take a look at it below:
Man, Josh Pieters and Archie Manners really had a lot of work ahead of them when it came to getting Carole Baskin to agree to an interview. As was mentioned earlier, Baskin doesn't really want anything to do with discussing Tiger King, even though it has made her famous and probably brought a lot more attention to Big Cat Rescue and her other causes. Which is fair, really, considering that speculation that she killed her previous husband and fed him to some of those big cats she rescued is a significant subplot on the series.
Manners and Pieters wanted this interview with Carole Baskin so badly, that they weathered two nos, one from her directly and one from her third husband, Howard. In his email to the fake Jimmy Fallon producer, Howard, who's a lawyer, noted that they didn't want the stress of another interview and didn't think that, even if Baskin didn't talk about Tiger King directly, that the interview wouldn't have interest hijacked by the specter of the show. He even went so far as to direct them to others who could talk about big cat issues, with the knowledge that that wouldn't be a big name interview.
Luckily for Pieters and Manners, Carole Baskin later contacted them when it looked like all was lost to say she changed her mind. So, why did Baskin have such a change of heart? It turns out that her daughter, who's been helping her run Big Cat Rescue since it started in 1992, is a big fan of Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show, and she convinced her mom that doing the interview would get the kind of attention they want for their causes.
And, it turns out that there was some real synergy at work, since they couldn't find any clips of Fallon talking about Tiger King, but had plenty of general questions and cat-related interviews to work with when picking out past audio for their fake interview.
You can see that, once they get Carole Baskin on live for the interview, she's more than happy to answer the questions and deal with some technical mishaps. But, the question now is, just what does Baskin think of this elaborate prank? Well, it would seem that she's got a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing. Here's what a statement from Big Cat Rescue about the interview to Entertainment Tonight had to say on Baskin's thoughts:
I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped. 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.
OK. Points to Carole Baskin for not being angry, and major points to Josh Pieters and Archie Manners for putting some serious time into this prank. You can relive Tiger King on Netflix right now, but for more to watch, be sure to check out our 2020 Netflix premiere guide and see what's coming to TV this summer.