It seems like it’s been years since Tiger King dominated the social media sphere, but in reality it was just at the beginning of lockdown that the Netflix docuseries became a viral sensation, prompting Hollywood to scramble to get as many Joe Exotic projects started as possible. But before Tiger King there was Joe Exotic, a Wondery podcast that covered the same story last year and quickly got picked up for a TV series adaptation. In November 2019, it was reported that Kate McKinnon was set to star in the series as Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue and the mortal enemy of Joe Exotic. Nearly a year later, the Joe Exotic TV series has been picked up straight to series by not one, but three different platforms: NBC, the streaming service Peacock, and USA.
Deadline reports that the limited series Joe Exotic (working title) is receiving an unprecedented three-platform rollout across three different NBCUniversal properties: the broadcast network NBC, the streamer Peacock, and the basic cable network USA. The Joe Exotic series was originally sent up at Universal Content Productions last year, based on the second season of Wondery’s Over My Dead Body podcast, and with interest in the story spiking due to the sensational popularity of Netflix’s Tiger King, it is getting this unprecedented multi-platform rollout.
Written by Etan Frankel, the limited series is based on “true events following Carole Baskin (McKinnon), a big cat enthusiast, who learns that when fellow exotic animal lover Joe ‘Exotic’ Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit, she sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy. The results prove dangerous.”
Frankel also executive produces via his overall deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group. McKinnon executive produces along with Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy and Aaron Hart.
McKinnon is set to play Baskin, who was the target of Joe Exotic’s assassination attempt which would get him arrested and convicted of a felony, for which he is currently serving his sentence. Like Joe Exotic, Baskin has been the source of much public interest too, due to the murky circumstances of her husband’s death (which many speculated that she had a part in) — a subject that McKinnon’s Saturday Night Live costar Chloe Fineman poked fun at in a recent episode, much to Baskin’s chagrin. McKinnon will have to bring her A-game to outdo Fineman’s pretty spot-on impression. The role of Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel has not yet been cast for this show.
Joe Exotic is one of two high-profile scripted series adaptations of the larger-than-life figure, including one starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic. But at this point, with the Tiger King hype having faded so quickly, it feels like these projects are a little outdated before they even get before cameras.
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