The limited series, currently titled “Joe Exotic,” is now set to air on NBC, Peacock, and USA Network. In addition, Etan Frankel has boarded the project as writer and executive producer under his overall deal with series producer Universal Content Productions (UCP). The project was first announced as being in development last November.
Frankel’s past credits include “Friday Night Lights,” “Shameless,” “Animal Kingdom,” and the Epix series “Get Shorty.” He is also attached to write an Evel Knievel limited series starring Milo Ventimiglia. That project was originally set up at USA but is now being shopped to other outlets.
Based on the Wondery Podcast of the same name, the show centers on Carole Baskin (McKinnon), a big cat enthusiast, who learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit. She sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy. The results prove dangerous.
McKinnon will executive produce in addition to starring, with Frankel and Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy, and Aaron Hart also executive producing. UCP, part of the Universal Studio Group, will produce.
The decision to air the series across NBCU’s two main English language linear networks and the recently-launched streaming service comes as the company looks to adapt itself for the streaming wars. Amidst an industry-wide decline in linear ratings, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell recently oversaw a major reorganization of the company’s television business. That reorganization placed a clear emphasis on the company’s future streaming plans while deemphasizing the importance of certain cable networks in the NBCU portfolio in order to cut costs.
The bizarre world of Exotic and Baskin was most famously documented in the hit Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.” The series dropped on March 20 and quickly became a media sensation. Variety exclusively reported that the series is estimated to have reached an audience of 34.3 million unique viewers in its first 10 days of availability, according to Nielsen data.
This is one of two television projects set in the “Tiger King” world. Variety exclusively reported in May that CBS Television Studios and Imagine Television are developing a series about Schreibvogel with Nicolas Cage attached to play the lead role. It is based on the Texas Monthly article “Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild,” by Leif Reigstad.