Amazon Prime Video has taken in for development a scripted series starring Nicolas Cage as the infamous Joe Exotic, made a household name by the hugely popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King. The project, which had been in the works at CBS TV Studios, hails from Brian Grazer, American Vandal showrunner Dan Lagana, and Paul Young.
The yet untitled series was taken out to buyers in May, with Amazon quickly emerging as its likely destination. Negotiations for the project were in their final stages when NBCUniversal last month gave a mega pickup to UCP’s Joe Exotic (working title), a limited series starring Kate McKinnon as Carole Baskin, which received a joint straight-to-series order by NBC, Peacock and USA.
The Amazon Prime Joe Exotic series will be co-produced by Amazon Studios, Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios.
The story in the show, written by Lagana, centers around Joe Shreibvogel (Cage), an eccentric, exotic zookeeper in Oklahoma who fights to keep his park — even at the risk of losing his sanity. The series will live in the lion’s den with Joe, explore how he became Joe Exotic, and how he lost himself to a character of his own creation.
The project is based on the Texas Monthly article “Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild,” by Leif Reigstad which Lagana and Young optioned through Lagana’s overall deal at CBS TV Studios in June of 2019.
Lagana, who serves as showrunner, executive produces with Brian Grazer and Samie Kim Falvey for Imagine, Young for Make Good Content, Cage for Saturn Films, as well as Scott Brown and Megan Creydt for Texas Monthly. This is the latest project to come out of Imagine and CBS’s co-production/co-finance partnership which includes Why Women Kill, 68 Whiskey, and Swagger.
Joe Exotic is the subject of the Netflix docuseries, Tiger King, which has become a global phenom since its release. The series drew 34.3 million unique viewers in the first 10 days of its release, from March 20-29, according to Nielsen, eclipsing the Season 2 numbers for Stranger Things, which drew 31.2 million in its first 10 days in 2017.
Now in prison after being sentenced to 22 years for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin, Joe Exotic continues to make headlines, most recently for his pardon request letter to President Donald Trump.
At Amazon, Cage also has in development Highfire, a TV series based on the adult thriller novel by bestselling Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer, on which Cage voices the lead character and executive produces.
Cage’s recent and upcoming work includes Mandy, Color Out of Space, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Pig, Croods 2, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He is repped by WME, Stride Management and attorney Patrick Knapp of Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher.