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King of the Mountain was a set of pilots created by FOX Square productions based on Takeshi's Castle. John Mulrooney was one of the co-hosts for the second King of the Mountain pilot. He is currently touring the stand-up circuit and was relaxing between comedy sets on a cruise in the Bahamas when I spoke with him. Mr. Mulrooney was kind enough to talk with our resident keshi interviewer Joshua about his memories of King of the Mountain.
This interview is not to be used outside Takeshi Kingdom and Keshi Heads without written permission.
Joshua: Did you have to audition for the part?
John Mulrooney: Not really. I was a rotating host for The Tonight Show when Joan Rivers was hosting. So they knew me from that. When Joan was let go a number of other comedians were also let go. I was one of those comedians.
Joshua: Did they show you any episodes of Takeshi's Castle?
John: They showed me a few clips nothing to in-depth. Really thought it looked cool.
Joshua: How was the show pitched to you?
John: I was told it was based on this long running Japanese show and that they wanted a co-host. They picked me and Judy Toolstrum who was a stand up famous for her Andria Dice Clay character, based on Andrew Dice Clay. We shot it out in the desert in 100+ degree heat. The sets were so big that in order to get establishing shots they had to hire a helicopter. They sprayed the sets with this weird green stuff that was either for set decoration or waterproofing. People who were sitting in the stands just watching were passing out from the heat. One person got really hurt.
Joshua: I talked to the producer and he said that someone dislocated their arm.
John: That's exactly what happened. There was a woman who was running up the boulder mountain and she zigged when she should have zagged and got hit by this large boulder. Now these boulders were vulcanized rubber with foam core and compressed air to give them their appearance. When they travelled down that mountain, they were going at about 25 miles per hour. So get hit by one of those things and it's like being sacked by a line backer. If you watch the clip she gets hit and falls against a stage hand and it cuts away before you see him push her back into the field. The thing is they didn't get the shot of her running to the top, so they had to reshoot her running up with a brave face on. But immediately after that, there were two EMTs waiting for her and they put her in one of those stretcher boards and drove her to the hospital.
Joshua: Sounds rough
John: It was a fun show but it was very rough. I saw a guy who I thought was a prop master and he had this long metal pole with a hook on it and I asked him what he was doing. He says "Oh Iím a Snake Wrangler" so I joke "Oh you seen my agent?" and it turns out that the rattlesnakes liked to hide underneath the props and this guy was there to make sure they didn't bite anyone. Sure enough after looking under one or two boulders he pulled out a live Snake.
Joshua: Were you aware that you were part of the second King of the Mountain Pilot that was shot?
John: Yeah, I really didn't look to much into the first pilot. It was hosted by John Matuszak. That's really all I know.
Joshua: Would you have continued with the show if it had been picked up?
John: Oh yeah, Stand-up comics are always looking for vehicles and attention which is what this was. I was surprised when it wasn't picked up because it made for a fun show. Barry Diller really liked the it. I remember he rode to the set on his motorcycle and it was so hot that he had to take the helicopter they used for the long shots to get back to the city.
Joshua: In 2002 Judy Toll passed away. Do you have anything you want to say about her?
John: Rest in peace. She was a great co-host and was fun to work with.
Joshua: You and Judy are actually in the Encyclopedia of TV Gameshows for King of the Mountain. Funny enough Judy's name is spelled wrong.
John: Really how'd they spell it?
Joshua: They spelled it Cole like coleslaw.
John: Is my name spelled right?
Joshua: Uh yes it is.
John: Well that's a positive. Do you want to hear the craziest King of the Mountain story?
Joshua: Of course.
John: I was a firearm enthusiast so I had a number of guns. During the shoot, we had these long breaks and because we were out in the desert I was able to go off and practice shooting them without the noise disturbing the set. There was this photographer who worked for FOX who was about 5 feet tall. He asked me where I was going and I said "Well don't tell anyone but I've got some guns and I'm going to go off and practice firing them". He had never fired a gun before so he asked if he could come with me and try some of them and I said sure. So we went off and took some shots and he really liked this hand gun and he said "I'm going to go buy that gun". About 2 years later I saw him at the improve and recognized him. So I went over started chatting with him and asked him if he bought the firearm. He says "Didn't you hear?". So apparently he went out and bought the gun and had it for about a year. Later he posts an ad in the paper for a gold ring he's trying to sell. It's worth $'s and he's trying to get a good price for it. He gets a call from a guy who says he's interested and after some back and forth this guy comes to the photographer's house. The photographer opens the door and immediately knows somethings up because this guy has a friend with him and they're both huge guys that nearly individually take up his entire doorframe. So they come inside his house and the original guy starts asking him about the ring and he's acting very weird for a guy who's just interested in a ring. The other guy asks if he can use the bathroom. He realizes that the bathroom is adjacent to his bedroom where he'd been hiding the gun so he shows him the bathroom and while he's in there, He goes into his room and grabs it. Then he comes out and the other guy asks for a glass of water. So he gets him the water and the big guy grabs him and pulls out a gun and starts firing. The photographer reaches for his gun and steadies himself and unloads 3 shots into him. The guy ransacking runs out realizing what's happened and the guy who's shot runs out and falls outside on the pavement. Because he used his hand to steady himself with his gun and his other hand to sort of instinctually block himself, the shots that the robber fired grazed his ring finger (how ironic) and his middle finger and all he needed was 2 stiches. The robber on the other hand is on the pavement dead and the other guy got away but was caught two days later. The cops who caught him told this photographer that he didn't know how lucky he was. This guy was out on a murder charge and he was clearly there to kill him and take his ring. So yeah all that out of the King of the Mountain pilot.
Joshua: A crisis averted thanks to a failed pilot based on a Japanese show.
John: Yeah a murder foiled and a robber dead thanks to King of the Mountain.
Joshua: Anything you ever wanted to know about the original Japanese show?
John: No not really. Once I got to host the American version I became a real fan of it. I was surprised our version didn't go, because it was unique and so visually fun. I really thought it would go. Clearly they knew what they were doing in Japan because it's still rolling strong.
Joshua: Well this been a real pleasure. Thank you for your time and thank you for doing this such short notice.
John: Thank you Josh it's been fun.