Monday, August 8, 2011



When we filmed Take the money and run there was a camera crew assigned to the ‘hiders’ (civilian contestants), another to the ‘seekers’ (local detectives), and another with the ‘interrogators’ (Mary and me). Obviously, there is some cross over between the crews, but there is still 80+ hours of film with most episodes to edited down to 48 minutes – with commercials added to round out the hour. This means there is a lot of stuff, even very cool stuff, that never makes it into the final cut.

Episode 1, ‘Oh, Brother,’ featuring brothers Raul and Paul Bustamante as the hiders and San Francisco Investigators Dean Taylor and Cliff Cook as the seekers, which premiered the first week, was no exception.

Filmed using the historic San Francisco Mint as a set, I couldn’t have been more impressed with the crew who swarmed over the building making sure we had electricity, lighting, heaters, phones, Internet, running water and toilets. It was amazing how much they accomplished in such a short time.

Then there was the art department, who built our interrogation room, turned the Mint’s bank vaults into cells, created the room used as our headquarters, produced maps on demand, and anticipated our every need.

There were two rules that really worked to help us in our quest to find the briefcase. First, the hiders do not have the right to remain silent – they can lie their butts off (and are expected to do so), but they cannot refuse to talk to the interrogators or spout gibberish.

Second, the briefcase has to be hidden somewhere with public access 24/7. It can be hidden in a business or a private residence, but the owners have to agree to provide 24 hour a day access and to allow the seekers to search the premises if they follow clues to the location. This means, if an ‘accomplice’ (somebody contacted by the hiders during the hour they have to hide the briefcase) refuses to let the seekers search his/her residence/business, the seekers know the briefcase isn’t there and the location can be eliminated.

Mary and I first saw Raul and Paul after they had been ‘arrested’ and ‘booked.’ We started out observing them in their cells via CTTV. Even then we could easily judge their personalities. Raul was doing pushups and exercises, while Paul was curled up on his cot. It was clear to us, right from the start, which one we were going to go after.

Although, in the final cut of the episode, it appears as if Paul rolled over and gave up relatively easily, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mary and I had grilled him mercilessly for hours. We knew he didn’t like being interrogated, which meant we went after him all the harder.

The hiders have no idea what time it is. They have no cell phones, computers, television, or outside contact during the duration of the 48 hour lockup. Many people think this is no big deal, but when it is you in that dank, tiny, cold cell, with beans and weenies to eat, and only your own thoughts to keep you company, it is a different story. Paul clearly did not thrive in that environment.

During the course of the 48 hours, Paul and Raul were separately hooked to a lie detector machine operated by a professional polygraph expert. Paul threw us a real curve ball on the lie detector test because he basically flat-lined it. If he’d have been a cardiac patient with that kind of chart, he would have been dead. It appeared as if he was able to beat the test!

It didn’t seem possible to us – and it wasn’t. Paul told us later, he’d answered truthfully to all the lie detector questions because he knew if he lied, it would show. If only we had known…

Clearly, while cool, the lie detector sequence did not really advance the episode’s ‘story,’ so it didn’t make the final cut, but pictures of it were featured on the ABC website.`

Prior to the interview where Paul eventually cracks, Mary and I had used another psychological ploy. We knew Paul got very anxious when he knew he was going to be interrogated. Mary and I asked the ‘guard’ to take Paul from his cell, move him to the interrogation room, and sit him in a single chair under the main light, and leave him there.

After ten minutes, we had the guard open the interrogation room door and take Paul back to his cell. We wanted Paul to feel relief after the anxiety of anticipating being interrogated.

However, we only left him there long enough for him to think he was safe. After five minutes, the guard took Paul from his cell again and back to the interrogation room. This time there was no furniture in the interrogation room, giving Paul little choice other to stand as he was told.

When Mary and I entered the interrogation room, it was clear Paul was not in good shape. We could see him trembling slightly – a sign every interrogator recognizes as an emotional dam getting ready to break and pour out the truth.

At that point, Paul belonged to us mentally. There was nothing he could have done to get out of the interrogation room without telling us where the briefcase was hidden.

Frankly, Paul held up very well given the circumstances. He fooled both Mary and I with his performance on the lie detector test. At his core, Paul is a very honest guy. He was clearly not comfortable with lying, which is much to his credit.

After seekers Dean and Cliff found the briefcase, and all was said and done, I also had to have admiration for Raul, who accepted the situation with no rancor toward his brother. They clearly loved one another as siblings and had a tight bond with their mother.

Paul and Raul were good guys who played a good game against us. They had no idea before the game was explained to them the night before the start exactly what they were getting into – and it’s tough, really tough, being in a cell alone and having to face up to the questioning of professional interrogators.



  1. Thanks for taking the time to air these insights, Bish. I enjoyed the first episode, but decided to watch one or two more episodes before writing about it on my blog... mostly because I wanted to see if a fine-tuning occured in the one or two areas where I thought the show needed a little more attention.

    Principally, it DID appear that the one brother caved rather easily, and with NO apparent reason to do so. Your essay explained that that maybe wasn't the case. It's important, though, that the program clearly shows the trials and tribulations of the prisoners, or else everyone's going to think it's all just a scripted fix.

    Also, some kind of mechanism to periodically outline the rules (a host who occasionally appears?) might be desirable, as it might address the various reasons we're all screaming at the screen about why a contestant or police officer (or you, the interrogators) are doing or not doing something that seems obvious that you should or shouldn't be doing.

    Anyway, just my two cents for now. So far, the show is fun and definitely not boring, and those things are half the battle! Looking forward to seeing how things play out in the coming weeks.

  2. Interesting stuff, Paul.

    I've been a fan of yours for years, and it was quite a surprise to see you on TV. Very cool!

    I haven't seen the show yet, but I will make a point to check it out. I MAY even give up one of my reality shows ;-)

    Go Paul go...You're doing the LAPD proud!

  3. I just want to say thank you Paul for Posting this..it means alot to me and Paul as well.. I was soo devastated to see that he was treated so bad and I knew.. as he told me what really went on after..He is so special to me.. and all the money in the world..would not have meant anything for what was shown on National TV.. It seems that YOU are truly a Stand up Guy Paul.. and Thank You again...Mom


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