It’s been announced that Kyle MacLachlan will play Howard Baskin in Peacock’s Joe Exotic series, which will star John Cameron Mitchell as the infamous big cat wrangler/mullet enthusiast Joe Exotic and Kate McKinnon as his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin. MacLachlan, best known for his collaborations with director David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Dune), is a Golden Globe winner who has also appeared in films such as Showgirls and The Flintstones, and TV shows such as Desperate Housewives and Portlandia.
Audiences first got a glimpse into the wild world of big cat breeding in Netflix’s true crime documentary series Tiger King, which sort of united the planet during the initial few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. A spate of scripted projects based on the twisted story was quickly greenlit.
Multi-hyphenate producer Ryan Murphy was reportedly developing a series with Rob Lowe being eyed for the titular role. A miniseries from Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, set to star Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic, was also announced. Amazon Prime Video acquired the Cage project in September 2020.
While nothing can be as enticing as the prospect of watching Nicolas Cage have a sincere conversation with a tiger, the Peacock series has racked up quite the ensemble cast. The show will also feature Brian Van Holt as John Reinke, Nat Wolff as Travis Maldonado, Sam Keeley as John Finlay, Lex Mayson as Saff, Dean Winters as Jeff Lowe, Joel Marsh Garland as James Garretson, and William Fichtner as Rick Kirkham.
Unlike the Cage series, which is based on a Texas Monthly article titled Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild, by Leif Reigstad, the Peacock show is adapted from a Wondery podcast by the same name. But each of these projects has Tiger King’s sheer popularity to thank. Netflix reported in its first-quarter earnings release in 2020 that the documentary series had been sampled by 64 million households in the first month of its release. The series also attracted its fair share of criticism, mostly centered around its sensationalist treatment of a rather serious subject. Many, including Collider’s Dave Trumbore, called the documentary out for doing a disservice to the cause of animal welfare. The real-life Joe Exotic, or Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his role in an assassination plot against Baskin.
Etan Frankel serves as writer and executive producer of the Peacock series. Saturday Night Live alum McKinnon also executive produces alongside Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy, and Aaron Hart. Justin Tipping will direct the first four episodes, including the pilot. No release date has yet been announced.