Nicolas Cage will play Joe Exotic, the subject of the popular Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, in a new scripted television series, according to Variety. The eight-episode limited series will be produced by Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios. The series will be based on the Texas Monthly article "Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild" by Leif Reigstad. CBS Television Studios optioned the project from Dan Lagan and Paul Young through Lagana's overall deal in June 2019. Lagana will write, be the showrunner, and executive producer the series. Young will executive produce on behalf of Make Good Content.
Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer and Samie Kim Falvey will be executive producers. Cage will also get an executive producer credit via Saturn Films. Scott Brown and Megan Creydt will executive producer for Texas Monthly. Imagine's James Seidman and Natalie Berkus will provide oversight on the project.
The series will tell the tale of Joe Schreibvogel, a.k.a Joe Exotic. The series follows Joe during his attempts to keep his struggling zoo under increased scrutiny and attempts by outside forces to shut him down. The series intends to examine how Schreibvogel, now legally named Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, became the notorious "Joe Exotic."
In 2019, Maldonado-Passage was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse, as well as two counts of murder for hire for plotting to kill Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue. He's now in a federal prison serving his 22-year sentence.
Maldonado-Passage's story has been covered on several podcasts, but he became a household name thanks to Netflix's Tiger King documentary. Now his story is being adapted into scripted entertainment by several parties. In addition to the CBS series with Nicolas Cage, Kate McKinnon will produce and star as Baskin in another limited series adaptation based on the Wondery podcast Over My Dead Body's telling of the story. American Crime Story's Ryan Murphy is reportedly in talks to develop a scripted limited series for Netflix with Rob Lowe playing Maldonado-Passage.
Tiger King is said to be one of Netflix's most successful original series ever. According to Nielsen, 34.2 million people watched the documentary within 10 days of its debut. The series also received positive reviews from critics. Netflix followed up with a reunion/retrospective special hosted by Community star Joel McHale, which featured interviews with several of the documentary's major players.