The mulleted zookeeper at the heart of the “Tiger King” docuseries has been cast in an upcoming drama series about the now-infamous saga.
The upcoming series was announced in March of 2020, the same month that Netflix’s "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" took America by storm. The show is based on a multiple-episode Wondery-produced podcast, which also focuses on the debacle.
"Saturday Night Live" comedian Kate McKinnon was cast as Carole Baskin in 2019. McKinnon will not only star in the adaptation but plans to executive produce the series, TVLine reported. The show is in development at Universal Content Productions, the same studio behind “Dirty John" and "The Act."
"I'm thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero," Mitchell told Variety following the announcement of his casting. "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."
Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving 22 years for plotting to kill big cat activist Baskin. In addition to being convicted on two counts on a murder-for-hire charge, he was found guilty of eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Oklahoma.
Exotic’s conviction was the end result of a dramatic, years-long battle with Baskin, which was documented in-depth in “Tiger King.”
Mitchell co-created the musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch” in 1998 and went on to earn the Tony Award for best revival of a musical. He also directed and starred in the film version of that musical.
"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 for UCP, which is the series’ producer, told Variety. "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."
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