Mitchell has been cast as Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel, the larger-than-life zoo owner in Oklahoma who loses himself in his hatred for Carole Baskin (McKinnon). As previously announced, the show will air across NBC, Peacock, and USA Network.
“I’m thrilled to take on the role of this modern folk antihero,” said Mitchell. “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.”
Mitchell is best known for co-creating the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” His work on the Broadway version earned him the Tony Award for best revival of a musical and a special Tony for performance. He also directed and starred in the film version of “Hedwig,” for which he got a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy and won best director at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. Mitchell’s other film directing credits include “Shortbus” and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” while his TV acting credits include “Shrill,” “The Good Fight,” and “Girls.”
He is repped by CAA and Peikhoff Mahan.
“It’s clear that an over-the-top character like Joe needed someone very special,” said Steven O’Neill, executive vice president of casting and talent development for series producer UCP. “We are so excited to have John Cameron Mitchell, an adored icon of the LGBTQ community, take on this compelling role. His casting speaks to our ongoing vision of universal storytelling, and we can’t wait for our audiences to experience the show.”
“Joe Exotic,” currently the working title of the show, is based on the Wondery Podcast of the same name hosted and reported by Robert Moor. Etan Frankel serves as writer and executive producer under his overall deal with UCP. McKinnon executive produces in addition to starring along with Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy, and Aaron Hart.
This is one of two television projects set in the “Tiger King” world. Variety exclusively reported last year 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. It was announced back in September that the Cage project has been set up for development at Amazon.