At this time last year, everyone was talking about the Netflix series Tiger King, and now Tony winner John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has been cast as Joe Exotic opposite Kate McKinnon‘s Carole Baskin in a new limited series about the man, myth, legend.
The untitled NBCUniversal series is based on the Wondery podcast Joe Exotic from host/reporter Robert Moor. Etan Frankel (Shameless) will serve as showrunner and write the series under his overall deal with Universal Content Productions, and he’ll also executive produce alongside McKinnon and Wondery‘s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy and Aaron Hart.
Though the podcast was titled Joe Exotic, the scripted series will center around Baskin, a big cat enthusiast and activist who learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit. She embarks on a dangerous quest to shut down his venture, which incites a rivalry that knows no bounds.
“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” 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, [and] 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,” added UCP exec Steven O’Neill.
The UCP series has no connection to the Netflix docuseries Tiger King or the upcoming Amazon series starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic. Ryan Murphy is also reportedly developing a series that would star Rob Lowe as the eccentric character. The Mitchell-McKinnon project is the furthest along, however, and though a premiere date has yet to be determined, the show is slated to air simultaneously on NBC, USA Network and Peacock.
Mitchell won Tonys for writing and starring in the Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he also co-created. He went on to win an award at Sundance for directing the feature film adaptation. Mitchell also directed Rabbit Hole, Shortbus and How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and his acting credits include HBO‘s Girls, Hulu‘s Shrill and The Good Fight. Additionally, he will reportedly co-star in The Sandman series on Netflix. I’ve always enjoyed Mitchell‘s energy as a performer and that energy should serve him well as Joe Exotic.