Transcribed by: Timothy Larrick
Interview conducted & edited by: Amanda
AMANDA: Tonight we have producer Brad Kuhlman, and again on the show, we have Josh Gates. Both producers of Destination Truth on SyFy, but I’m guessing you know, everybody that’s listening already knows that. So, [the new season of] this hit show on SyFy premiered earlier last month and Josh was on the show before the premiere of Episode 1 of Season 3 and since then ratings and the numbers for the show have sky rocketed out of control. The show each premiere night has over 2 million viewers and it’s really competing well with Ghost Hunters, which is kind of the forerunner for the show … So, right now, without further ado, here’s Brad and Josh. Hey guys!
BRAD KUHLMAN AND JOSH GATES: Hey Amanda!
BRAD: Doing good, thanks.
JOSH: Doing great.
AMANDA: How’s it going how are you guys enjoying the numbers from the show? They’re amazing right now.
BRAD: We cannot complain at all about the numbers. We are really happy about the ratings and you know obviously it means that more and more people are liking the show and that’s why we work so hard making it. People will enjoy it and watch it and they are what could be better?
AMANDA: For sure. It’s really good, I’m getting a lot of comments from the fans they like the chemistry of the new crew, they really like the new direction of photography that’s going, all the locations. It’s astounding. It’s amazing. First I’m going to get to a couple questions that I have then I’ll let you loose with the fans. My first question is for Brad. When did you first decide you wanted to get into television?
BRAD: Oh boy, I think I was in high school and I kind of knew I wanted to get into TV. I thought I wanted to be a sports caster then I suddenly realized I wasn’t really cut out for that. Then I got to college and started poking around a bit and worked for the TV station at the college I went to, one thing led to another and somehow I warmed my way into a production job and things just took off from there.
AMANDA: Great. Then I have a question for Josh. What kind of insurance policy does an adventurer take out?
JOSH: That’s a good question. I have a health insurance policy that’s not easy to come by, I’m not the easiest guy to insure. Then the actual production has its own insurance when we travel which is of course a big, long complicated document that keeps us all safe out there. In terms of private insurance it’s kind of a challenge.
AMANDA: For sure. I can imagine.
BRAD: The document doesn’t keep you safe.
JOSH: But it’s supposed to make me feel better though right?
BRAD: Well, the document…
AMANDA: Pretty much.
BRAD: Yeah, I think the document keeps a cap on the damages that could potentially happen, is what the document does.
AMANDA: If I got my arm ripped off in Zimbabwe, how much money do I get back for that?
AMANDA: So another question for Brad. How did you end up getting involved with DT? I know the series was originally created by another production company, but how did you end up taking the reigns so to speak?
BRAD: That’s a good question. I had actually produced another show for the network. It was a show called Master Blasters. It was a huge phenomenal failure on the network but actually it kind of wasn’t for the Sci-Fi audience. I thought it was a great show and it actually recently aired on the Science channel and it did very well for them. It was about amateur rocketry and was a competition show where teams competed against each other building these military grade high-powered rockets. The show didn’t do very well but I made some good relationships with the folks at SyFy and when they had the need for a production company for DT they gave me call. That was it.
AMANDA: That’s awesome. That’s a pretty good opportunity, I’d say.
BRAD: It was a great opportunity for sure. Anytime you get the opportunity to work on a show that’s already on the air and it’s starting to find its way it made it a lot easier for me to come in and make some tweaks here and there or something that was really already working.
JOSH: Especially a show already with a capable host!
BRAD: Well yeah, I mean, that’s where most of the tweaks came in. I really fine tuned Josh’s performance.
AMANDA: Oh God. You’re like the ringmaster or something.
JOSH: He thinks he is.
BRAD: I think I am.
AMANDA: Oh boy, I’m not going to start a feud with that so we’ll just let you guys duke that out in private.
BRAD: Yeah, we do that pretty much every day.
AMANDA: Just don’t punch Josh in the face because that’s how he makes his money.
BRAD: Well, he’s much bigger than I am so I wouldn’t take him on.
AMANDA: Oh boy, okay, Josh. What is the weirdest fan encounter you’ve had so far?
JOSH: Well, we’ve really seen in this season an increase in physical fan mail that’s starting to arrive. When I’ve been to TAPS offices where Jason and Grant work out of in Rhode Island they get some really wacky fan mail. We are in no way close to encompassing the kind of stuff that they get. We do get a lot of interesting stuff in the mail. The good thing is that most of it is heartfelt interesting letters that people have really been interested in the show. We get a lot of suggestions for shows and things we should do.
JOSH (cont.): I think the strangest, physical in person encounter I’ve ever had with a fan was this year we were filming in Bangkok and were at a hotel there and there was a guy from Malaysia at the bar in the hotel and recognized me and said he was a big fan of me and the show, even though the show doesn’t air in Malaysia he somehow was able to see the show online and was super excited about it and certainly wins the award for most distant fan of DT.
AMANDA: All right, I thought you were going to say, “What’s the weirdest fan encounter? Well this chick came all the way to New York City to come to the SyFy –“ (laughs) No I’m just kidding.
JOSH: That’s my favorite fan encounter.
AMANDA: Oh well thanks. I appreciate it. You and your wool jacket in the middle of July. You are insane.
JOSH: It’s true. I was wearing a hot suit that day.
BRAD: (laughs) Why?
JOSH: It was a rainy day in New York.
AMANDA: Yeah, it’s also July, so take that into consideration.
JOSH: You know what? I don’t know what I was thinking.
BRAD: He’s much better in the jungle than he is in the city.
AMANDA: Well this city is another version of the jungle, I suppose. So Brad, how did you come up with the concept for Ping Pong Productions and when did you first found it?
BRAD: Well my business partner is Casey Brummels. Who actually has also been on the show. You remember Casey, from Season 2 and 2.5?
AMANDA: Of course.
BRAD: He and I made another travel show together called 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. That was for the Travel Channel. It’s kind of a goofy story really. When you make these travel shows you get kind of goofy on the road out there. We started this whole Ping Pong thing and it just kind of stuck. Then when we returned from the road we both found out that we both liked to play Ping Pong and after that show is when we said we should try and stop working for other people and get our own thing going.
BRAd (cont.): So we both stopped taking work from other people and we started working in my kitchen and coming up with show ideas and trying to get a few projects off the ground. We did and we needed a company name and one of us said ‘What about Ping Pong?’ and we thought that would work out. Like I said, not much of a story but that’s what it is.
AMANDA: And with Ping Pong Productions, are there any projects you worked on with this production company that you’re kind of shocked by that you got to do it?
BRAD: Am I in shock by any of the projects that we’ve gotten to do?
AMANDA: Well, shock, honor, awe, I don’t know. Either/or.
BRAD: You know it always amazes me anytime you get to produce a TV show. It’s so difficult to get a TV show off the ground because they are rare. As much programming as it seems like there is out there, there are a lot of people in a lot of companies vying for those jobs. Anytime you get handed a show and that much responsibility, money and pressure it always sort of amazes me that we get to do that. We’re thrilled just to be in business to be honest with you. We’re having a great time; we’re doing another show called The Othersiders for the Cartoon Network, which is also a paranormal show. We just have a great time so hopefully more to come.
AMANDA: For sure. I have kind of a weird hypothetical question for Josh. Let’s say someone offered you an acting gig in a huge blockbuster movie and offered you a ton of money but because of the shoot you’d be relegated to a life of airports, hotels, press junkets and premieres, but you could never do any crazy travels ever again. Like, you couldn’t go out into the jungle, or out to the arctic tundra, or anywhere spontaneous ever again, would you want to do that or would you stick with DT?
JOSH: Well -
BRAD: Yeah Josh, what would you do?
JOSH: (laughs) As Brad wants to know. I think the easy answer is that I have a contract with the SyFy channel that lasts for another year or so. So for that time I’m committed to working with the channel. So that would be an easy decision because I made a commitment to the channel and they have been really good to me, so that’s certainly where my priorities are right now. If that were not the case I would love to do some more acting work that’s really where a lot of my background comes from, I did a lot of theater in college and I was working out here in LA trying to balance acting and travel and getting into on camera work in a variety of areas.
JOSH (cont.): I do think though that now that DT has come together and the show is doing well and I’ve head the opportunity to work as a travel host for the last two years I really think this is where I belong in the industry. I think if I got my way I’d like to do travel television for a long time to come and hopefully that’ll give me opportunities to do other stuff along the way as well. I think for me I’m really happy being this kind of rough shot travel explorer guy, there’s certainly room for it on television these days and people really seem to respond to it. I think I’m happy where I am.
AMANDA: Cool. I know that they [the entertainment industry] really do a horrible job at remaking movies, but if they remade JAWS and asked you to be in it, would you be in it?
JOSH: Oh that’s easy! I would drop everything.
AMANDA: Oh God.
JOSH: If they remade JAWS, I would just take a lawsuit from SyFy and just quit the channel completely.
BRAD: Who would you be in JAWS?
JOSH: I would be Hooper!
AMANDA: Oh my God.
BRAD: You’d be Hooper?
JOSH: I think so. I’m not young enough to be Quint, right? He’s kind of the old, salty seasoned veteran.
BRAD: Right. Maybe in the remake, he’s not. Maybe in the remake he’s, you know-
JOSH: He’s probably Ashton Kutcher in the remake.
BRAD: Yeah maybe.
AMANDA: Well, I’m glad I asked that question. Everybody was always wondering if Josh wins multi-millions, will he ever quit the show, and I doubt that you would. Right, Josh?
JOSH: No, I think I would just continue to travel.
AMANDA: Yeah, well you’d have more money to go on the road with which is always good.
JOSH: Yeah. Destination Truth would look a lot different if I won Mega Millions. We’d do most of our travel from a private jet.
BRAD: Wouldn’t that be nice?
AMANDA: Sweet. So Brad, I have to ask. Compared to your other projects what’s crazier? Working on DT, working on Celebrity Rehab, working on Judge Judy, or working on Jerry Springer?
BRAD: Well that’s an easy answer. Jerry Springer was the craziest thing there ever was. Listen, DT is crazy in its own way. It’s crazy hard and sometimes you can’t believe you are where you are and it take you to insane places. Springer was, I don’t know, the people you interact with on a daily basis on that show, it was a head scratcher every day there. You can’t believe there are people in the world that are like that. That was a real circus, that show.
AMANDA: Yeah I can definitely confirm that those people were legit. I was in a Chicago airport one time with a woman that was on the show and she definitely was not quite acting. So I pat you on the back for that job.
BRAD: Yeah when I did the show from ’91-’96 the show didn’t really start out that way it started out like it was going to be another Phil Donahue or Sally Jesse Raphael; a one-hour, topical, serious daytime show. The show was about to be cancelled and they literally came in one day and said, “Okay we’re going to be cancelled unless the numbers turn around.” And the company said, “Do whatever you want, try whatever you want.” At the time Ricki Lake had just come on and Ricki Lake was doing really big numbers by doing these crazy relationship stories so we said, “Let’s out[do] Ricki Lake!” Literally overnight, fights started happening and it just got crazier and crazier.
BRAD (cont.): It sort of fed upon itself because the more people saw what we were doing when they watched the show and Talk Soup was huge then. Everybody just wanted to make Talk Soup. So if somebody threw a chair or pulled their wig off or did something stupid they would make Talk Soup. So it just got crazier and crazier in an instant. So that was an interesting thing to be apart of. To see the show go from a thing that was about to be cancelled to, you know, Jerry was as big as The Beatles, big overnight. He couldn’t walk into a mall.
AMANDA: Yeah. So kind of getting back to the subject of Destination Truth, what are your guys’ favorite episodes right now?
JOSH: There are probably two different answers of that for me; the favorite episode that was shot and favorite episode in terms of the edit and how it came out. I think in terms of shooting the episode, the King Tut one for me is my favorite in the season. Or Chernobyl, they go neck and neck simply because the amount of access we had to those locations were just so unprecedented even just on a personal level was so unprecedented and being able to go alone to King Tut’s tomb is just something I would never have the opportunity to do outside the scope of the show and so for me while filming it felt really special. It was something that was just unbelievable that we were able to pull off.
JOSH (cont): In terms of watching the shows and seeing how they’ve come together so far, I’m not sure. I really like … you know, for me the ones I really enjoy watching the most has traveling components and action-adventure stuff happening so the Romania episode at the premiere is great because there’s a lot of comedy in it, you have this big dramatic incident with the plane and then the ATVs and you have all this really interesting stuff that happened at night. So for me that’s one of my favorites and it’s probably why it got moved up in the order to the premiere episode. Brad what about you?
BRAD: I’m just sitting here thinking. I don’t know. They’re all, I hate to say they’re good and I like them all, but for us they’re all so different and they all have their own challenges and each one is just this massive jigsaw puzzle story and footage. Once we get a shot it just becomes this huge puzzle that we try to piece together. We work really hard to make the show fun and exciting and make sense. We shoot a lot of footage so they just become this real sort of, labor of love. I like to think that once we sign off of the show and it’s done and we sent it to the network to put it on the air that it’s in some ways for us it’s perfect. We can’t do anything more with it, we got it the way we wanted it it’s perfect. So for me they’re all pretty special to me. It’s such a unique show, it’s so unlike anything I’ve produced before so they’re all kind of special to me. Really.
AMANDA: That’s a good safety answer right there.
BRAD: Yeah, sorry about that, I just couldn’t pick one out. Probably the Thunder Bird expedition was probably the best produced of the season I would have to say.
JOSH: Of course Brad’s saying that because that was the one he was there for.
AMANDA: Yeah. It is a tough call, I can’t even tell you what my favorite episode is. I think that the giant anaconda one was pretty good though.
BRAD: Yeah well clearly that’s not one of my favorites.
AMANDA: Oh my goodness.
BRAD: I showed my true identity as a scaredy-cat of snakes on that episode.
AMANDA: Yeah, Josh, you called him the Bruce Wayne except with snakes?
JOSH: Yeah, Brad and snakes just do not get along.
AMANDA: Well, that’s unfortunate.
BRAD: Do you like snakes?
AMANDA: Yeah actually, I really don’t mind snakes or mice or anything like that. I don’t like spiders, but I’m not going to run screaming from one. I’ll just be like, “touch me and you die.”
BRAD: Well, I didn’t run screaming, but I did cower behind a tree at one point.
JOSH: That’s because you were too scared to move.
AMANDA: You know what I think would scare the ever loving daylights out of me if I were on the road and saw something barreling out of the woods would be Gary Busey or Courtney Love.
JOSH: Well, that would be terrifying.
AMANDA: I would pee my pants and run the opposite direction screaming, but otherwise I think I would do all right. I don’t really have many more questions for you guys because I know the fans are anxious to talk to you but I have a round of rapid fire questions that are Halloween themed if you guys want to give it a little shot.
JOSH: Absolutely let’s do it.
JOSH: Let’s do this thing.
AMANDA: All right, let’s do the damn thing. Best Halloween costume.
JOSH: That we’ve ever worn?
AMANDA: Yeah, exactly.
BRAD: Uh, I don’t know. Mine last year was terrible.
JOSH: What were you last year?
BRAD: Terrible. I was Clark Kent last year.
BRAD: Because I couldn’t come up with anything and I had that stupid Superman shirt! I just wore it and put the jacket over it, it was dumb.
JOSH: I remember one year, many years ago, I really invested some time into a Two-Face costume from Batman.
AMANDA: Oh wow. I don’t even remember what I was last year. Oh, I was broke last year, so I bought a Jason mask and dressed up in a really sexy, inappropriate widow’s outfit and put on a Jason mask.
JOSH: That’s what Brad did two years ago.
BRAD: Yeah, that’s weird. I did the exact same thing.
AMANDA: Oh! Brad! What’s wrong with you?! (laughs) All right, the craziest Halloween adventure you guys have ever had?
BRAD: I don’t know, but you know who loves Halloween? Erin Ryder.
AMANDA: Oh yeah?
BRAD: Yeah and she’s right here, she just popped in to say hello. Don’t you love Halloween?
ERIN: I love Halloween!
AMANDA: Everyone loves Ryder, everyone [wonders] ‘Where’s Ryder?” all the time. Everyone [in chat says] “Hi Ryder.”
BRAD: Here she is.
AMANDA: What’s going on, girl?
ERIN: It’s my favorite holiday.
JOSH: For me, the craziest Halloween was hosting Ghost Hunters Live.
AMANDA: Yeah, which you guys won’t be doing this year. You’ll just be going out on another trek this year, right?
JOSH: Yeah, we’ll be out in the world. We’re leaving in a couple weeks to start some new episodes of Destination Truth.
AMANDA: Very cool, very cool. With you guys being out on the road during Halloween, do you think something crazy is going to happen, or do you think people put too much of a significance on Halloween in America all together?
JOSH: We’re still trying to figure out where we are going to be for Halloween right now. We’re still kind of locking in our schedule. I like Halloween is a great holiday. It used to be a harvest holiday, it used to be for the kids but now it’s a good excuse for everyone to get a little kooky for the night.
AMANDA: Nice. Let me see if I have another question. Okay this is purely an opinion question; what’s the best Halloween themed movie ever?
BRAD: Halloween hands down.
AMANDA: I like the Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m sorry. I’m a nerd.
JOSH: Yeah that’s a fair answer. That’s a great movie.
AMANDA: Yeah I’m trying to get them to play it at work but they won’t do it!
JOSH: Yeah I’m still going with Halloween.
BRAD: Gotta go with Halloween, sticking with it.
AMANDA: I think that would traumatize some of the children waiting in line at customer service but yeah I agree. (laughs) All right, I guess that’s about it on my end so what I’m going to do is signal in for the fans to start calling then I’ll get you guys on as fast as I can.
BRAD: Okay great.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT!