Amazon is not moving forward with its planned, scripted series about Tiger King subject Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldano-Passage. More than a year after the show was confirmed to be in the works, Nicolas Cage, who was set to star as the now-imprisoned former big cat owner, confirmed to Variety that the show had been scrapped, with Amazon feeling the series had become "past tense."
Wanting to "clear the record," Cage told the outlet, "Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together." The project was first announced in May 2020, just months after the March 2020 debut of Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. That docuseries had captured the attention of millions and quickly became a social media sensation, and the series had been set to capitalize on the intense interest and popularity of the Netflix show. According to Cage, who said he read "two excellent scripts," Amazon at one point felt the series "was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it's no longer relevant."
This does not mean the series is dead for good, however. Sources close to the situation told Variety that the project may be shopped to other outlets, meaning there is still a chance to make it to the screen someday. At this time, though, the show has been shelved.
The eight-episode limited series, produced by Imagine and CBS Studios, was set to be based on a 2019 Texas Monthly story titled "Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild." That article was about Joe Schreibvogel (aka Joe Exotic) and how he built his Oklahoma zoo and his feuds with Carole Baskin and Jeff Lowe, who were also featured in the Netflix docuseries. It was set to explore how that famed zookeeper became Joe Exotic and how he lost himself to a character of his own creation. Dan Lagana was tagged to the project as writer, showrunner, and executive producer. After Cage was announced to be cast in the role of Exotic, it was confirmed in September 2020; the series had found a home at Amazon.
The Cage-led series is the second of two scripted focused on the Tiger King story. NBC Universal's streaming service Peacock is set to begin production on its own Joe Exotic limited series. Based on the podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King, released between March and April 2020, and stars Kate McKinnon and John Cameron Mitchell as Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic.