From one National Treasure to another. According to a new report by Variety, the most-speculated casting decision of 2020 has been made: actor/filmmaker Nicolas Cage will play the Tiger King, otherwise known as Joe Exotic, otherwise known as Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage (né Schreibvogel), in a new miniseries about Exotic’s very exotic life.
The news comes after names as diverse as Matthew McConaughey, David Spade and Margot Robbie (no, really) were thrown into the very mixed bag of potential joe Exotic candidates (apparently Exotic himself nominated Spade, who would have done a pretty good job).
But the showrunners of this miniseries have reportedly gone with the very bankable Cage, he who was once accused of stealing an actual Chihuahua (sadly, this accusation was false). According to the report by Variety, the series script will be taken to market in the coming days, so stay tuned for that barbaric bidding war.
The unnamed series, which is said to be eight episodes long, is being produced by America’s CBS Television Studios in partnership with Imagine Television. It won’t be based on the seismic Netflix documentary that brought Mr. Exotic and his tigers (and husbands) and nemeses to the world’s attention, but rather a feature story that appeared in the Texas Monthly in June 2019 titled, ‘Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey into the World of a Man Gone Wild’. Apt.
The currently unnamed series is said to circle around “an eccentric, exotic zookeeper in Oklahoma who fights to keep his park even at the risk of losing his sanity.” Given Nicolas Cage’s track record of playing psychologically conflicted characters with muddled moral intentions (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off, Mom and Dad), we’re sure he’ll do just fine at bringing the light and shade of Mr. Exotic to life.
This is the second miniseries based on Exotic to be announced. The first was announced late last year, with American comedian and writer Kate McKinnon allegedly signed on to star (as Exotic's arch-rival Carole Baskin) and executive produce. McKinnon’s take is reportedly based on a podcast series about Exotic.
So, who will play the Baskin to Cage’s Exotic? Personally, I’d love to see Gwyneth Paltrow reprise the role of Baskin. Her deep-set eyes and proclivity for flower crowns mean she’d only really need to add a few cheetah prints to her wardrobe and wallah. Plus, the yogic purr of Paltrow’s voice would lend itself perfectly to Baskin’s infamous, ‘hey all you cool cats and kittens.’
Or, McKinnon and Cage’s projects could just merge. Two scripted series on the same polyamorous lip-syncing hillbilly does seem like a bit of an overkill. Or does it? According to Netflix, 34.3 million viewers tuned into its 12-part documentary on Exotic in the first 10 days of it premiering. And considering the filmmakers added another ad-hoc episode to the end of the saga, it seems our thirst for Tiger King content isn’t about to wane.