NBCUniversal has found its Tiger King. John Cameron Mitchell will play the role of Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel, the big-cat zoo owner in Oklahoma who hired a hitman to kill rival Carole Baskin (Kate McKinnon), on the TV and streaming limited series.
“Joe Exotic” will air across NBCU’s portfolio.
Mitchell co-created the stage musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” for which he won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and a Special Tony for Performance. For his “Hedwig” film adaptation he won Best Director at the 2001 Sundance Festival and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Based on the Wondery podcast “Joe Exotic,” hosted and reported by Robert Moor, the limited series will center on Carole Baskin, a big cat enthusiast, who learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit. She sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy.
The results of their rivalry prove dangerous — and nearly deadly. Schreibvogel is currently in prison for hiring a hitman to kill Baskin. She’s alive and fine.
It’s all chronicled in Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King,” which we recommend our readers watch before this and other potential scripted projects debut.
“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” John Cameron Mitchell said in a statement. “Joe and I are the same age and like him, I grew up queer in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas so I feel like I know a little bit about this guy and his desperate attempt to conquer an inhospitable world.”
“It’s clear that an over-the-top character like Joe needed someone very special,” Steven O’Neill, executive vice president of casting and talent development at UCP, added. “We are so excited to have John Cameron Mitchell, an adored icon of the LGBTQ community, take on this compelling role. His casting speaks to our ongoing vision of universal storytelling, and we can’t wait for our audiences to experience the show.”
Etan Frankel will write and executive produce “Joe Exotic” under his overall deal with UCP. McKinnon will also executive produce, as will Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy, and Aaron Hart.