Nicolas Cage to Play 'Tiger King' Subject Joe Exotic in Scripted Series

The project based on Netflix's breakout docuseries comes from 'American Vandal' showrunner Dan Lagana, CBS TV Studios and Imagine Entertainment.
Getty Images; Netflix
Nicolas Cage (left), Joe Exotic

Nicolas Cage is headed to television — as Joe Exotic, the subject of Netflix's breakout docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Cage will play Joe in an eight-episode scripted series from CBS Television Studios and Imagine Television. It is based on a Texas Monthly story published in 2019.

American Vandal showrunner Dan Lagana, who has an overall deal at CBS TV Studios, and Paul Young optioned the article in June 2019, well before Tiger King became a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Cage had been in talks to play the lead role since April. CBS TV Studios and Imagine are taking the show out to potential buyers soon.

The Texas Monthly story by Leif Reigstad recounts how Joe Schreibvogel built his private zoo in Oklahoma and details his feuds with Jeff Lowe and Carole Baskin, both of whom are prominently featured in Tiger King. The scripted project, currently titled Joe Exotic, will center on Joe as he fights to keep his animal park even at the risk of losing his sanity. It will explore how Joe became Joe Exotic and how he lost himself to a character of his own creation.

Lagana will serve as writer and showrunner and executive produce with Young of Make Good Content, Imagine's Brian Grazer and Samie Kim Falvey, Cage (via his Saturn Films), and Scott Brown and Megan Creydt of Texas Monthly. Imagine's James Seidman and Natalie Berkus are overseeing the project.

The Cage-led series is the second scripted project based on Joe Exotic in the works. Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon is set to executive produce and play Baskin in a show from Universal Content Productions based on Wondery's Joe Exotic podcast. That project has been in the works since November.

As for Cage, the series will mark a new career milestone — an entry into television. The actor's recent projects have largely included a string of crime thrillers and action features from international financiers, but he has continued to work in a variety of Hollywood projects, lending his voice to Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and starring in Lionsgate's meta action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, where he will be playing a fictionalized version of himself.

Tiger King premiered in March on Netflix and has been a breakout hit for the streamer, as measured by Nielsen and Netflix's internal metrics. Viewers in the U.S. have spent several billion minutes watching the show, according to Nielsen.