Kate McKinnon to star in, executive produce TV series based on strange case of Joe Exotic

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Kate McKinnon [NBC photo]

Kate McKinnon will help turn the bizarre life and murder-for-hire trial of Joe Exotic, a former Oklahoma roadside zoo operator, big-cat breeder and gubernatorial and presidential candidate, into a television series.

Universal Content Productions is teaming with Wondery to adapt the latter’s podcast about Joe Exotic for television, according to The Hollywood Reporter. An Emmy Award-winning “Saturday Night Live” star, McKinnon will executive produce along with Wondery’s Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy.

McKinnon is set to star in the series as Joe Exotic’s rival and intended victim, Florida-based big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin.

As I reported on my BAM’s Blog, Joe Exotic – whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, but he is also known as Joe Schreibvogel – was convicted in April of twice hiring someone to kill Baskin, an animal sanctuary operator whose nonprofit organization successfully sued him for in excess of $1 million for trademark infringement and more.

Jurors in the spring trial ruled Joe Exotic also illegally killed five tigers with a shotgun, illegally offered to sell and sold tiger cubs and falsified documents involving the sale of lions, tigers and a baby lemur.

The TV project is in the early stages of development, so a writer for the potential series has not yet been determined. A network is not yet attached.

Possible casting choices for Joe Exotic have not yet been revealed, either.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines just on the two murder-for-hire counts. The judge is due to decide his punishment later this year.

In 1999, Joe Exotic opened a private zoo outside the small south-central Oklahoma town of Wynnewood, just off Interstate 35. The roadside operation drew the ire of animal rights activists for letting visitors pet and play with tiger cubs that had been taken from their mothers at birth.

Joe Exotic also ran for president in 2016 as an Independent and for governor of Oklahoma in 2018 as a Libertarian.

Joe Exotic’s trial drew multiple documentary filmmakers and TV networks interested in adapting the strange story.

If the project comes to a reality, “Joe Exotic” would be the fourth podcast Universal Content Productions has adapted for television, along with Amazon’s “Homecoming,” USA Network’s “Dirty John” and Peacock’s “Dr. Death.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wondery, the largest independent podcast publisher, is behind “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death” and several others. Seven of its podcasts have been adapted for TV, including the three for Universal Content Productions.

“Joe Exotic” is McKinnon’s second TV project beyond “SNL.” She also is attached to star as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in the Hulu limited series “The Dropout,” which is based on the ABC News podcast. She also will executive produce that project, which is coming from Fox Searchlight’s TV division.

To read more about the weird case of Joe Exotic, click here to connect to stories by my colleagues at The Oklahoman.



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