TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: Paul Bishop Talks Interrogating on the ABC Reality Series - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: Paul Bishop Talks Interrogating on the ABC Reality Series

August 16, 2011 by  

Like any self-respecting fan of television crime shows, I’ve seen my fair share of interrogation scenes in scripted television. However, ABC took the game to a whole new level with their reality series TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN.

On the show, two contestants are given one hour $100,000 to hide. While they do that, their every movement and call is tracked, until they are collected by two detectives who are assigned to find the case. If the case stays hidden for 48 hours, the contestants win it. If the detectives find it, they get the prize.

Assisting the detectives in their quest to find the money is two seasoned interrogators, Paul Bishop and Mary Hanlon Stone. While you’d think people might be able to hold up to interrogation with a limited time frame and $100,000 on the line, it’s not as easy as it appears.

I took the chance to talk with Bishop about his interrogation techniques, how he got involved with TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, his partnership with Mary and more…

Is it weird to be doing interviews for a TV show? You’re almost on the other side of the table here.
Paul Bishop:
Yeah, I mean, this is not my usual gig, obviously. But with a background in having worked in the business, as far as on the writing side, and with the publicity for my books and all of that kind of stuff, I am a little bit used to it.  But it’s very strange to be in front of five million people every Tuesday night.

Yeah, I’d imagine. So what drew you to the show?
Quite frankly, it just fits in to my complete skills set.  The fact that I’ve had 35 years on with the police department, and my specialty is interrogation, and this is what I teach the detectives now, and it’s a part of my every day job, when [Jerry] Bruckheimer’s production company approached me about doing this, I thought, “Whoa, if I was to design a show for myself, I couldn’t design a better show.”

So did they know you from your work? Or did you know someone who knows someone who worked at Bruckheimer’s production company?
No. In actuality, what happened was I had gone to them about six months earlier and it was during [television] pitch season and I had been pitching a series about an elite group of interrogators that go around the country solving crimes and as part of that pitch, I actually did a mock interrogation on the VP in the room and I pulled my chair real up close and invaded her space and said, “Now, I don’t know if you lie about your taxes or cheat on your spouse, but whatever it is, I’m going to find it out right now.” And, like, she paled. [Laughs] Of course, all of her staff goes on immediate alert, right, they’re going to get all of the drill all of a sudden. And I did it to try to make them feel how intense an interrogation can be when somebody is coming after you.

And while we actually got called back and Bruckheimer eventually passed on the project, we ended up taking it to Disney, which [then led to] six months later, that [original] VP called me back and said, “Ever since you were in my office doing that interrogation, I knew I was going to use you in a show somewhere and we have the show for you.” And I said, “Great, what am I going to be writing?” and they said, “No, you don’t understand — we want you downtown to talk to casting directors.” And I thought, “Okay, who is this?” You know, so I was a little startled, but I went down, went through the auditioning process and next thing I know, I’m co-starring on a national TV show on a major channel.

Were there any concerns about doing this with your job? Are you primarily teaching right now or…?
Oh, no, no.  I run a sex crimes unit. 35 years on the job, 27 years on sex crimes, so I deal with pedophiles and rapists on a daily basis. This is what I’m doing. I actually supervise a unit so I have to take work with me, but we do a lot of this stuff together.  One of the cool things about doing the show, though, is in real life, if I’ve got a suspect who confesses to me and they’re going to jail for 20 years as a result of that confession, I can’t really go to them and say, “What was it that I said to you or what was it that I did that made you talk to me?” But here with these contestants, you can actually debrief them and say, “Well, what worked?  What didn’t work?”

And to a certain extent, is helping refine some of the techniques we use on a daily basis. More so because we don’t have guilt or long-term incarceration — which are our two big hammers in interrogation — to use against hiders in the game.  So we have to use all of these other little finely tuned things to try and figure out what they’re lying about and then make some assumptions as to what the truth is.

Was there any concern about your face being seen by these 5 million viewers and your ability to continue to effectively do your job?
Not really. I’m not undercover. That was years ago when I first came on the job, but now, you know, I’m kind of on the news, making press conferences and all that kind of stuff, so having my face seen really wasn’t a bother to me.  It was just that I had to get my job to go along with it. [Laughs] I’m not representing the department as a person on this show. But with 35 years working on the job, were they going to say no to me? So it was basically a position where my bosses had to work out the time off for me and all that kind of stuff. My targeted retirement date is March of next year, so I’m out of here anyway. So hopefully, the second season will make a real nice segue into an ongoing career.

How are your current coworkers dealing with this? Are they giving you grief over seeing you on TV?
Oh, well, you know, when [last] week’s hire called me “Party Boy” that has now become my new nickname, as you can imagine. [Laughs]  But in general, they’re very, very supportive.  A lot more of them are talking to me that weren’t even aware of my existence before. Sex crimes is a very small investigative discipline and we don’t get outside much, but I’m hearing from a lot of old friends in that department.

Well that’s great! Were there any contestants that used tricks that you just did not see coming? A lot of people these days watch these law shows and think they know what they’re doing. Did any of them do anything that surprised you?
You know, there were some people who held it pretty good against us. In fact, in this last episode, Jimmy and Zuly really did because they played back. They planned to disrupt our interrogations and that seemed to work pretty good for them as far as being able to stay strong. But for most people, the contestants on that show, they don’t have criminal records, they haven’t had contact with the police before, and most of them are not used to lying. So to a certain extent, that plays into my hands. [Laughs]  Because they’ve never felt the intensity of somebody aggressively questioning them.

Now obviously we can’t force them, we can’t hit them, nor would we want to. Anything that is [cruel] is not going to be allowed on the show and, quite frankly, for me, that’s not interrogation — that’s torture. And I’ve never had the chance to do that, nor would I.  For the most part, I’m pretty low key and I don’t even raise my voice in interrogations.  I can be pretty stern, but I don’t jump up and down and yell and scream and throw chairs around the interrogation room like you see on television. Now in real life, you have to be very careful. If you do stuff like that, you violate a suspect’s right — the fifth amendment rights — not to be intimidated. So who wants to go to jail just to get a confession?

It’s funny as a viewer to watch this, because you’re safe behind a screen and you might naively think, “Oh, I could stand up to this.” But I have a feeling that if you were in my face, I would spill every single thing I know.
It’s a very funny feeling. And what most people don’t understand is there’s an A-game going on and a B-game going on in an interrogation. In the A-game, it’s what’s happening when I’m sitting there with you, in your face, talking to you. The B-game is all the other little things that we do and we do every single time because you never know when one of them is going to work. For instance, the hiders or the suspects are generally sat a chair in which they can’t get comfortable in. There’s usually a leg that’s shorter than the other one so they’re sliding around all the time and they can’t get comfortable.

And one of the rules of the game — because all games have rules — is the hiders have to be fed three times a day. I said, “That’s great. We’re going to feed them five times a day. And it’s going to be beans and weenies and milk every time, because you don’t want them getting a breakfast burrito and knowing it’s morning. I need to mess with their time frame.” And so when time is running down, if we’re in an episode where we’re running out of time, I wear my watch turn in to my wrist – well, I just do it in general anyway – but the suspect can’t see my watch. However, when time is running out, I’ll let them have a glance at it — but what they don’t know is I’ve set it back 10 hours.  And so they think they’re close and then now all of a sudden, they’re 10 hours or more off and that just gives you that little more psychological edge.

Yeah, you’d break me really fast, I can tell. So what can you tease about this week’s episode?
It’s one of my favorite episodes.

It is because we were able to go to the officers and say, “We know exactly where the briefcase is,” and [they] go, “You do?” “Yeah, but there’s a problem. It’s in six acres of brush somewhere.” And those guys went out there and they just took our word for it and trusted us and went out and just did a heck of a job in trying to locate the briefcase. I take it you’ve seen the episode?

I haven’t seen this week’s episode, but that’s interesting.
In the episode that just aired, one of the things — there’s 80 hours of film they have to get down to 43 minutes, plus commercials so there’s a ton of stuff that ends up on the floor. It took us 36 hours to convince the officers in that episode that we weren’t plants. That Mary and I were actually real-life interrogators. For whatever reason, they had it in their head that we were actors and we were punking them, like it was a candid camera-like part of the show, where they had to figure out that we were giving them this information or something like that. And it really created a lot of problems. In this week’s episode, in the one that’s coming up, these two Cuban cops – one of them is an Antonio Banderas lookalike/soundalike, so people are going to love him – when they walked in when we met them, they took one look at us and we took one look at them and it was instant bonding. And they said afterwards, “We walked in and we figured you guys weren’t going to be there if you weren’t the best at what you did, so we left you to do what you do best and we went out and do what we do best, which is know our city and be able to eliminate areas that were on the route of the hiders.” That was the exact type of relationship that we need to be successful.

Is there every any point during filming — whether it’s the detectives acting ridiculous or you see these people you’re interrogating — and you’re just like, “I want to help them win the prize”? Or are you in this professional mode where you’re like, “I have to get this done no matter how I personally feel about these people?”
No, Mary and I — she and I have worked together for 23 years. We often say we were twins separated at birth — I know where she’s going in an interrogation even before she does. And what happens is, when we started this gig, we just said, “We’re not actors, we just have to be ourselves. And the best way to be ourselves is to just go right into work mode.” So what you’re seeing on that screen is Mary and I playing this just like there was an atomic bomb in that briefcase or if it’s a missing child. We play this as deadly serious as we can because frankly it’s the only way the two of us can make it work.

I admire that because I worry I’d be like, “Gosh, you really could use $100,000.”
[Laughs] Yeah, but there’s a certain amount of professional pride on the line, too. We don’t want to look foolish. We want to be able to prove that we can do what we say we can do. And Mary and I said when we started this game, “Why would anyone tell us exactly where the briefcase is?” And we were surprised again and again by what happened.

So aside from this week’s episode, is there another one coming up that you’re really looking forward for fans to see?
There’s another real good one where Mary literally is in the interrogation room doing some kind of airhead secretary routine with the narcissistic male suspect and she just completely mesmerizes him. After all was said and done, we had to say to the producers, “Look you know Mary. You know what a little pitbull she is. Was that the Mary that you know in that room? No, it wasn’t. You heard her sit down, you saw the suspect, you saw Mary and I make a plan and Mary went in there and carried it out.” And it was just picture-perfect. They literally couldn’t believe what happened in the room.

That sounds fantastic.
That’s my partner. She’s a star. The smartest thing I ever did in this game was to get her to come in on it with me.

That’s very sweet of you!
Yeah, well, she’s just incredibly smart and as I said, having this relationship with somebody I trust, that she’s always got my back makes it really worth it for the two of us.

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN airs Tuesday at 9 PM on ABC. Will you be tuning in?

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One Response to “TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: Paul Bishop Talks Interrogating on the ABC Reality Series”

  1. emptyaddy on September 6th, 2011 9:07 pm

    The show is terrible and it would not be surprising if it were
    cancelled prematurely. Primarily it demonstrates massive
    instances of fiction, for example detectives making it from
    Millennium park to Fullerton at Lincoln park via lake shore drive
    with a stop for gas all in under 25 minutes…in Chicago daytime
    traffic. Sure buddy. Of course the cash is theirs, but the fact that
    the show’s producers actually record the stash it is literally
    at the whim of writers, editors, and ratings when they decide
    and who they decide money exchanges hands. Fake.

    Then there’s the actual “interrogations” which somehow involve
    volunteering contestants knowing what to expect yet don’t
    understand the concept of developing a tell and profiling. Apparently
    establishing a monotonous dialogue or freedom of eye contact is
    against this game show’s rules. Of which, the unfair bias the “experts”
    are allowed larger advantages such as all out hostility to reinforce
    blatant assessments of the fabricated situation. A fabrication of simply
    accusing a contestant their lying which is impossible and ultimately void
    and benign because the producers can crackberry the exact coordinates
    at anytime. Pass.