While the Amazon series starring Nicolas Cage as Tiger King's Joe Exotic has stalled, the Peacock series featuring John Cameron Mitchell in the role is moving ahead. The first photos of the Hedwig and the Angry Inch star in full Exotic costume recently surfaced. The limited series also stars Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon as Exotic's rival, Carole Baskin.
The series is in production in Brisbane, Australia, reports PEOPLE, which shared an image of Mitchell sitting in a helicopter. Another photo (seen below) from last week shows Mitchell wearing a cowboy hat and a pink shirt as Exotic. The Shrill star wore a brown leather jacket that looks similar to the familiar one the real Joseph Moldonado-Passage was seen wearing in the Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The script by Etan Frankel (Shameless) is based on the Wonderly podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King, which was released before the Netflix series.
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"I'm thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero," Mitchell said in a statement when he was cast in April. "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."
Shooting on the still-untitled series started after a big shake-up. Dennis Quaid was originally cast as Rick Kirkham, the reality television show producer featured in Tiger King. William Fitchner (Mom) was cast in the part after Quaid dropped out. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) was also just cast as Baskin's husband Howard Baskin.
After Tiger King became a smashing success in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in March 2020, Hollywood rushed to get dramatic adaptations of the material off the ground. Ironically, the very reason Tiger King became a success - the pandemic - also meant that productions based on it couldn't get moving until after Tiger King faded from the public spotlight. That's the reason why the Cage project isn't happening. Cage recently told Variety that there were "excellent scripts" for his series, but Amazon ultimately decided Tiger King "was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it's no longer relevant." So it looks like the Peacock project won't have competition after all.
Meanwhile, the real Exotic remains in prison, but the length of his stay could change soon. In 2019, he was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill Baskin. He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. He sought a pardon from President Donald Trump, although none came. Just last week, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the prison sentence and ordered that he be resentenced for the murder-for-hire charges. Exotic also appealed the conviction, but it was upheld.