With plenty of time for binge-watching during quarantine, TV viewers became obsessed with “Tiger King,” the Netflix docu-series that followed big cat owners – some of whom are not portrayed in the best light. One subject, Carole Baskin, hasn’t done any press to promote the documentary — until she was tricked into doing an interview by a couple of YouTubers.
The YouTubers, Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, have tricked several U.K. celebrities into doing fake interviews. “However, we wanted to see how far this could go – Tiger King’s success made Carole Baskin a global icon, but she famously wasn’t giving any interviews,” Archie Manners told CBS News. “So we wanted to see if we could trick the one person nobody had managed to speak to.”
Pieters and Manners use audio recordings from real talk show hosts to make interview subjects think they are doing a legit segment on a real, televised show. The pair tricked the “Tiger Queen” by telling her she was being interviewed for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” although Manners said it was “quite challenging” to get her on board.
“Carole doesn’t do interviews, so we had to immerse ourselves in her world and work out the best way of approaching her. She turned us down multiple times, but eventually, we managed to succeed,” Manners said, adding Baskin wouldn’t talk about anything related to “Tiger King.”
Baskin was not necessarily a fan favorite after “Tiger King” premiered. Memes and social media fodder zeroed in on suspicions about her, based on the documentary’s chronicling of the mysterious 1997 disappearance of her former husband, Don Lewis.
Baskin owns a wildlife sanctuary with many tigers and a meat grinder. Her rival and the main protagonist of “Tiger King,” Joe Exotic, spread unsubstantiated theories that she got rid of her husband’s body by feeding it to her big cats. Baskin has denied the rumors and has taken the issue to how she is represented in “Tiger King.”
When the time came to talk to Baskin, the YouTubers tested her audio, warning her she would not be able to see Fallon during the interview. The interview kicks off with the voice of Jimmy Fallon saying, “Thank you so much for being on our show. We appreciate it, we love you, how are you?”
Baskin goes on to say that her daughter convinced her to do the interview. She also reveals that due to the loss of the tourist industry during the coronavirus pandemic, she had to let go of about half of her staff at the animal sanctuary. Baskin said Big Cat Rescue might not be able to resume tours after the pandemic.
Manners said Baskin now knows it was a prank. “Carole’s reaction to the video was perfect — she said she had a ‘good laugh’ and was grateful for the way we didn’t try to make the video mean-spirited,” Manners told CBS News. “We think that this video, and Carole’s reaction, perhaps shows a different side to the Baskin’s that wasn’t seen in Tiger King.”
Baskin told CBS News: “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.”