The crazy big-cat exploits of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin are coming to Australia, as Universal Studio Group prepares to set up filming for a scripted Tiger King series – and cameras could start rolling as early as February.
The I-can’t-believe-this-is-real-life exploits of Exotic and co captured the awe of millions when it hit Netflix streaming earlier this year.
And it’s still going.
Baskin, the hero/villain of the saga (depending on who you believe) only just got voted off the US version of Dancing with the Stars.
The series – Joe Exotic – will actually anchor around Baskin, as she begins her mid-life mission to shut down Exotic’s big-cat breeding empire.
Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon has been cast to play Baskin.
The role of the King himself hasn’t yet been cast.
Unfortunately for Nicolas Cage fans, the big fella is donning a mullet wig to take up the role of Joe Exotic in a different TK spinoff.
(There’s a handful in various stages of production right now.)
Joe Exotic is one of three US productions coming to shoot in Australia in the next 18 months, off the back of a funding initiative from the federal government.
Baskin reaches out
Baskin reached out to McKinnon when she found out the SNL star was bringing her side of the story to the silver screen.
When we say ‘reached out’, we mean, ‘sent a message through the media’.
She urged McKinnon to use CGI animals in place of the real thing in filming – after all, that’s what the real Carole Baskin would do.
“I implore Kate McKinnon to not use real big cats and cubs in the making of her series,” Baskin wrote.
“The Wondery podcast, which is the basis for her series, explores the rampant breeding, abuse and exploitation of big cats by breeder and exhibitor Joe Exotic. It would be cruel to use real big cats in a television series about cruelty to big cats.”
She also asked McKinnon to pick up the phone and give her a call, in the spirit of things.
“On a personal level, I would hope that if she’s going to portray me that she reach[es] out to discover who I am,” Baskin said.
Material for years
This scripted series will be based on a podcast from Wondery hosted by Robert Moor, which follows Baskin as she discovers just what it is Joe Exotic is up to.
If you haven’t watched Tiger King, the podcast blurb sums it up reasonably well:
“Joe ‘Exotic’ Schreibvogel, the Tiger King, does everything over the top. He loves big cats and has devoted his life to raising and breeding lions, tigers, and other exotic animals at his Oklahoma zoo.
“He croons ballads, shoots guns, and puts it all on YouTube. But throughout his career, he’s made a lot of enemies. And the biggest of all is the owner of a big cat sanctuary in Florida named Carole Baskin.
The feud between Joe and Carole gets messy, vicious, and outrageous – until both of them are pushed far beyond their limits.”
If the first season of the original Tiger King wasn’t juicy enough for you, there’s apparently a sequel in the works.
Joe Exotic’s husband Dillon Passage revealed to Good Morning Britain that he’s done “a little bit” of filming for season two.
Of course, Exotic won’t be in it because he’s serving a 22-year prison sentence for animal abuse charges and for trying to hire a hit on Baskin.
“I do not know the release date, but it’s going to be very interesting because it will tell a little bit of Joe’s arrest and afterwards,” Dillon said of season two.
“I know there’s going to be some phone call recordings of Joe that is going to be in it. There is no filming since he’s incarcerated.”
Netflix hasn’t officially confirmed the second instalment.