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Amazon picks up show starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic the Tiger King

Amazon picks up show starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic the Tiger King


Joe Exotic, left, will be played in a new show by Nicolas Cage, seen at right in 1997’s Con Air.

Netflix/Touchstone Pictures

Amazon has picked up an eight-episode scripted series starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic, the Oklahoma big-cat park owner whose story captivated a coronavirus-stricken nation in Tiger King. It will be the first television role of Cage’s five-decade acting career.  

Cage’s rep confirmed his role back in May but declined to go into detail about the show. Amazon Studios, which will produce the series, confirmed the pickup on Thursday. 

The series is based on the Texas Monthly magazine article Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild, by Leif Reigstad, and comes from Imagine Entertainment and CBS TV Studios. (Disclosure: ViacomCBS is CNET’s parent company.) 

Read: CNET’s interview with Joel McHale where he discusses Community and Tiger King.

Cage, 56, won the best actor Academy Award for 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas. His other films include Adaptation, Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, Face/Off and the Ghost Rider and National Treasure films. His quirky persona and looks, as well as his unusual film choices, make him an apparent natural to play Joe Exotic, who’s now serving a 22-year prison sentence in Texas. Cage’s name often came up in dream casting articles for a scripted Joe Exotic story — including CNET’s version.

The idea of Cage playing the troubled zoo owner captured fans’ imaginations almost from the start. Late-night host Jimmy Fallon even donned a mullet and flashy shirt to mimic Cage mimicking Joe Exotic — and it’s pretty perfect.

Dan Lagana, whose quirky Netflix mockumentary American Vandal was a Netflix hit in 2017, will serve as showrunner. 

After the March debut of Netflix’s docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the life and times of Joe Exotic turned into a hot Hollywood property. Netflix added an aftershow episode hosted by Joel McHale, producer Rick Kirkham offered a pay-per-view special, the Investigation Discovery network is planning a series, and there’s even another miniseries. 

NBC Universal has optioned a popular podcast about Joe Exotic and has cast Saturday Night Live comedian Kate McKinnon as Joe’s nemesis, animal activist Carole Baskin. And Baskin has now been cast on the new season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, where her first song will be — duh — Survivor’s 1982 hit, Eye of the Tiger.

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