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The retail giant/streamer has ditched plans to move forward with its scripted drama series based on the Netflix docuseries and a Texas Monthly article. Nicolas Cage was due to star as Joe Exotic in the series. Producers CBS Studios, which envisioned the show as an eight-episode limited series, will likely shop the project to other outlets.
Based on a 2019 Texas Monthly story about Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joe Exotic, the drama revolves around how he built a private zoo in Oklahoma and his feuds with Carole Baskin and Jeff Lowe. All three were featured in Netflix’s docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
The project was first announced in May 2020, at the height of the interest in the Netflix Tiger King docuseries. Cage told THR sibling site Variety — which first reported the news Tuesday — that Amazon’s interest in the project had waned and Tiger King was “no longer relevant.”
Tiger King bowed in March 2020 on Netflix and was one of the first shows to break out when much of the country was stuck at home as the pandemic began to spread rapidly across the globe. The series was a breakout hit for the streamer, as measured by Nielsen and Netflix’s internal metrics. Viewers in the U.S. spent several billion minutes watching the show, according to Nielsen.
Former American Vandal showrunner Dan Lagana, who is based at CBS Studios with an overall deal, and Paul Young optioned the Texas Monthly 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 2020. CBS TV Studios and Imagine shopped the series, which landed at Amazon for development. The scripted project centers 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 penned two scripts for the series and is attached as showrunner and will 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 of two scripted entries focusing on the Tiger King story. Peacock is in production on its Joe Exotic series, with SNL‘s Kate McKinnon set to play Baskin and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) on board to play Schreibvogel. That series is produced by Universal Content Productions and is based on Wondery’s Joe Exotic podcast.
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