NBC's Tiger King Show Casts Its Joe Exotic

Over a year since Netflix's Tiger King docuseries took the world by storm, the dramatizations of the story are still in the works and one just took a big step forward. Variety reports that Tony award winning actor John Cameron Mitchell has been tapped to play the role of "Joe Exotic" in NBCUniversal's limited series adaptation of the rivalry between he and Carole Baskin. Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon will appear as Baskin opposite him in the series, also serving as an executive producer. Etan Frankel (Friday Night Lights, Shameless, Animal Kingdom) will serve as writer and executive producer as well.

“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Joe and I are the same age and like him, I grew up queer in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas so I feel like I know a little bit about this guy and his desperate attempt to conquer an inhospitable world.” It was previously confirmed that the series, using the working title "Joe Exotic" for the time being, will air on NBC, USA Network, and even the streaming service Peacock.

“It’s clear that an over-the-top character like Joe needed someone very special,” Steven O’Neill, executive vice president of casting and talent development for series producer UCP added. “We are so excited to have John Cameron Mitchell, an adored icon of the LGBTQ community, take on this compelling role. His casting speaks to our ongoing vision of universal storytelling, and we can’t wait for our audiences to experience the show.”

The new series isn't based on Netflix's version of the story but rather the Wondery Podcast series named for the bizarre zookeeper turned convicted felon (Wondery's podcast actually debuted two weeks prior to the Netflix series). 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.

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NBC and UCP's Joe Exotic is not the only dramatization of the Tiger King saga that's in the works as CBS Television Studios is developing a series with Nicolas Cage attached to play Exotic.

(Cover Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Netflix)