Mormon convert takes interrogation skills to national audience in 'Take the Money and Run'

Published: Monday, Aug. 15 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Paul Bishop, a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and member of the LDS Church, has been one of two interrogators for ABC's "Take the Money and Run," a summer reality show involving the race for a case containing $100,000.


LOS ANGELES — The people Paul Bishop interrogates as a Los Angeles police detective are usually potential suspects. And he will ask many questions of witnesses and others to find who committed the crime.

On the ABC summer reality show "Take the Money and Run,” the people Bishop, a member of the LDS Church, is interrogating are only guilty of hiding a case of $100,000.

Bishop and his co-interrogator, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Mary Hanlon Stone, took a lengthy path to be on the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced show. Bishop’s crime-solving chronicles as a nationally-recognized interrogator was pitched by his agents to various studios, including the one that has brought films like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure” to audiences across the world. The studio executives liked what they heard — but Bishop expected it would be what the studio read that would stand out to them, as he was trying to get on as a writer.

“When the VP for Bruckheimer called after he sold the concept to Disney, saying they wanted to use me in ('Take the Money and Run'), I just wanted to know what I would be writing,” said Bishop, who's had 10 crime-thriller works published and is a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. “I didn’t think they were serious when he said they wanted me in front of the camera.”

Yet Bruckheimer and Bertram van Munster, one of the show’s executive producers, knew they had struck gold in landing Bishop — and Stone soon afterwards — for a series of plots that challenges two contestants to hide a case with $100,000 somewhere in various cities, including San Francisco and Miami. In the following 48 hours, Bishop and Stone are given the opportunity to interrogate each of the contestants in their cells, where the contestants are required to stay, while two seekers are in the city desperately trying to somehow locate the case.

“They bring tremendous amounts of knowledge and experience of bringing people to the truth. They’re just excellent at doing it,” van Munster said. “We’re trying to do an entertaining show and that involves great detectives, subjects and interrogators. Mary and Paul have a high standard and an amazing track record.”

Such a resume includes Bishop as twice-named Detective of the Year and as a recipient of the Quality and Productivity Commission Award from the City of Los Angeles.

But the 25-year sex crime investigator said that after more than two decades of working together, he’s grateful to have had Stone by his side on-screen as well.

Stone first met Bishop while she was a self-described “baby DA” and she is very much a writer, too. A mutual sentiment for sex crimes only added to the interest the two had in collaborating over both subjects.

Bishop’s literary instruction and his direction in how to carve out engaging characters like Fey Croaker, a female detective facing a world that Bishop said is largely best suited for a man’s psyche, played a large influence on Stone’s ability to bring forth her first published novel, "Invisible Girl," in 2010 which explores the dynamic of a young woman managing natural self-consciousness within an abusive relationship.

Not that such mentorship would get to the man’s head, Stone insists.

“Paul is very grounded, so he is the perfect partner to do the show with because there’s the unexpected at every turn,” she said. “He has a very profound spiritual core.”

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