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Two of the people at the center of the smash-hit Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" are suing to stop the scheduled release of its second season, claiming they did not agree to participate in it or have their earlier footage used in the new season.
Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, and her husband, Howard Baskin, filed a lawsuit against Royal Goode Productions and Netflix in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida on Monday alleging breach of contract and demanding that an injunction be placed to stop the release of the series on Nov. 17 and to eliminate the trailer promoting it.
In the lawsuit, the Baskins claim that filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin originally approached them in July 2014 to appear in a "feature documentary on the wildlife trade" and "repeatedly emphasized that the intended goal for the project was to create a single documentary feature film that would be an exposé of the big cat breeding and cub petting trade." On that basis, the Baskins agreed to participate in filming in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019 — for a total of 50 hours.
The couple signed appearance releases in 2016 and 2018, and were informed that the film was being pitched to CNN as an animal welfare documentary; they even viewed sizzle reels and two short rough cuts of the project. Thereafter, the couple was informed that Netflix had picked up the show.
The couple said they were then surprised that the filmmakers had changed the subject and thrust of the documentary film, which they believed was to feature Carole Baskin as a heroic animal advocate, to a series about Joe Exotic. They said that their inquiries to the filmmakers did not result in a satisfying explanation as to why this had happened.
"Far from being a documentary motion picture that seeks to expose the illicit trade of big cat private ownership, breeding and cub petting," the complaint reads, "Tiger King 1 is a seven (7) episode series focused primarily upon portrayal of Joe Exotic as a sympathetic victim and Carole as the villain."
Though Goode originally said he would not do a follow-up to the series, he changed his mind — and he and Chaiklin contacted the Baskins to offer them the opportunity to "clear the air" in the sequel. The couple refused. They said that they also believed that their appearance releases from 2016 and 2018 "limited RoyalGoode Productions’ use of the footage of the Baskins and Big Cat Rescue to the single, initial documentary motion picture."
Upon seeing the trailer for "Tiger King 2" on Sept. 25, the Baskins said they realized that their footage had been incorporated in the trailer and they were left with the belief that the sequel again focuses on them — despite their explicit lack of interest in participating. They are asking the court to stop Netflix and Goode and to prohibit the use of their footage in the sequel series, as well as in the trailers for the new season, immediately. They are also seeking to force the two entities to pay their legal fees.
"While we cannot stop Netflix and Royal Goode Productions from producing low-brow, salacious and sensational programming, we do believe that we have the right to control footage filmed of us under false pretenses," Howard Baskin said in a statement. "We like to believe that most Americans will agree that we should be entitled to protect our reputations in this manner and hold entertainment giants to their word."
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