May 26, 2020
Tiger King producer Rick Kirkham tells all in two-hour livestream

Tiger King producer Rick Kirkham tells all in two-hour livestream


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Rick Kirkham, seen here in a scene from the Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, has more to say about Joe Exotic’s weird world.


Netflix

Rick Kirkham was one of the more sympathetic figures in Netflix hit Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The  former Inside Edition reporter was making his own show about Joe Exotic and his crazy crew, and lost his footage in that mysterious fire discussed in the Netflix series. But Kirkham had more to say about Joe Exotic in a two-hour livestream pay chat that aired April 11. The recorded livestream can still be viewed online, if you’re willing to pay from $3.99 to $4.99 in the US, and varying by country.

Kirkham married a Norwegian woman and now lives in Norway, and Norwegian TV host Per Sundnes joined Kirkham in Oslo to discuss his Tiger King experiences and answer questions submitted by readers over Twitter or via video. I watched the entire two-plus hours and thought Kirkham came across as pretty much the same person viewers saw in the Netflix series — a down-on-his-luck journalist who spotted a good story and was eager to make it into a reality show. 

Kirkham briefly discussed that much-awaited new Netflix episode that dropped on Sunday, which is called The Tiger King and I, and which is hosted by actor and comedian Joel McHale. 

Kirkham said Netflix interviewed him for the new episode about “my feelings about the documentary” and also “what my life has been like since” the series came out. He was far from the only one interviewed — Jeff Lowe, who bought Joe Exotic’s animal park, has said he was interviewed for it, and others from the Joe Exotic universe will share their thoughts as well.

But how could Netflix grab new interviews when most Americans are under a coronavirus lockdown?

“(Netflix) sent out iPads to everyone,” Kirkham said on the livestream, noting that he has his own TV studio in his Norway home and was able to film himself. And Kirkham noted that Joe’s rival Carole Baskin, big-cat trainer Doc Antle, and of course the imprisoned Joe himself didn’t participate in Sunday’s episode.

Ironically, Kirkham thinks Joe’s new notoriety might actually help the animals he once caged, by raising awareness of the conditions of small roadside zoos. 

“Joe by going to jail may actually have helped the wild animals after all,” he said.

Kirkham’s livestream isn’t for everyone. He relays numerous instances of animal cruelty he says he saw Joe Exotic participate in, and shows gory footage of Kelci “Saff” Saffery’s damaged arm and hand after a tiger attack. But some of the stream’s topics are lighter, such as discussions of Joe’s mullet, political campaigns, and his attempts at a country-music career, though he himself didn’t do any of the singing.

As for Kirkham himself, he says he’s concentrating on finishing a memoir. The Joe Exotic years will “take up another half of my book,” he said. He says he sought therapy to help recover from the Joe years. “It was cultish, very cultish,” he said of the atmosphere.

And he’s not always proud of his past.

“I sold my soul to the devil being in that zoo,” he said. “In my case, I gotta live with what I did.”



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