Hello all! Hope you’re staying safe and well while staying home and social distancing. Given everyone is cooped up inside, we’re all captive audience to whatever the streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. are offering. Like many of you, my hubby and I couldn’t help but watch the Netflix docu series TIGER KING, inevitably the most popular show on TV right now since its debut on March 20 (per Variety) and it’s got 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes too!
A rivalry between big cat eccentrics takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot.
It’s not the kind of shows I typically watch, but then again there’s nothing typical about what goes on these days. To say reality is stranger than fiction is an understatement when it comes to this show. It’s one of those shows you have to watch just to see how bizarre it is, it truly defies explanations and at times even seems too outrageous to be true! But I bet filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin would say, ‘can’t make these stuff up!’ Right from its first episode, we already got a warning of sort… “Animal people are nuts…” then someone else said ‘monkey people are strange’… but they’re nothing compared to those who love tigers/lions, etc. “…the big cat people are backstabbing pieces of ***.” Normally you’d take such generalizations as hyberbole, but after seeing this doc, well maybe there’s some truth to that!
Take the man in the center, the Tiger King himself, now widely known as Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage (born Joe Schreibvogel), the self-proclaimed gay, gun-toting redneck is a polygamist, one time presidential AND gubernatorial candidate, and is currently serving 22 years in prison in a murder-for-hire plot, among others. This tweet says it all…
Me explaining #TigerKing to my mom:
There’s a magician, meth head, tiger tamer, country singer, gay polygamist, an Alex Jones type but with live tigers in his videos, and presidential/gubernatorial candidate.
Mom: that’s too many people to track
Me: oh that’s just one guy
— Pete Stegemeyer (@itspeterj) March 24, 2020
The documentary was filmed within a 5-year span and takes place primarily at what was called Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park (named after Joe’s late brother), which has since been renamed Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park under new owner, Jeff Lowe. Some would argue that Lowe ‘stole’ the zoo from Joe, which is just one of the many things that went south after Joe met the Las Vegas businessman. In any case, Joe is just one of a dozen extremely eccentric big-cat owners and their consorts/employees, etc. When you think something can’t get any more outlandish, comes another mystifying character that defies explanations!
When someone losing their arm (to a tiger nonetheless) isn’t even in the top 20 of crazy things happening in a show, you know it’s wild. #TigerKing
— Elisabeth (Beth) Jeffs (@beth_tweets) March 29, 2020
As if the tragic accident weren’t scary and bizarre enough, the reaction of the zoo’s owner, yep, Joe Exotic himself, will make your head spin!! I’m not going to spoil it for you, it’s best that you experience it for yourself.
Most of the players of the doc series are male, but the women are just as memorable and well, peculiar. There’s Carole Baskin, Joe’s main nemesis who runs Big Cat Rescue nonprofit organization. She’s the one who’s been trying to shut down the big-cat breeders, and she seems to target Joe Exotic in particular. If you think tigers/lions fighting in the wild is ferocious, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Carole’s current husband Howard calls her the ‘Mother Teresa of Big Cats’ Oy, not even close. Honestly I have no idea just what the difference is between Joe’s zoo and what Baskin deems as a ‘sanctuary to many exotic cats’ when the animals are still held captive and not running out in the wild as they’re supposed to. I’m astonished why there hasn’t been any Big Cats Safety Act or similar regulations passed yet?? I have always been against people owning exotic animals and keeping them in their home (or in any kind of captivity), so if there’s any good takeaway from this show, it would be to raise awareness about animal cruelty and participate in the fight to stop them.
Oh, in addition to all the dramas surrounding big cats, there’s also a murder/missing person mystery here! Episode 3 basically focused on Carole’s first husband, Don Lewis’ disappearance that still remains unsolved. Despite all kinds of rumors and speculations, Carole has never been charged with any crime. He went missing in 1997, but since this doc series aired, the case has now been reopened (per Tampabay.com)
Truly, this show is not for the faint of hearts and it’s definitely NOT for younger kids, I’d say it’s a hard R rating because of all the foul language and some REALLY disturbing images, particularly when Joe went off on his fantasy on how he’d like to kill Carole. Though I believe the reason Joe went to jail was partly because he was setup by people who outsmarted him, his infantile and repugnant behavior surely incriminated him in the case.
Well apparently there’s already a scripted version in the works, not sure if it’ll be a miniseries or a film. According to this article, the one that’s reportedly optioned for a limited series already case Kate McKinnon as Carole Baskin. Hmmm, as much as I think Kate is hilarious, I’m not sure she’s the best actress for the part.
So hey, as an indie casting director/filmmaker myself, I can’t help but do my own dream-casting of the scripted series/movie just for the fun of it!
If you’ve seen the film, you probably don’t need to see the slideshow, but in case you haven’t, or as a reminder…
So here’s my casting picks:
Joe Exotic – Michael Keaton
Carole Baskin – Julianne Moore/Amanda Seyfried
Howard Baskin – Jeff Goldblum
Doc Antle – Russell Crowe/Tim Robbins
Erik Cowie – Alexander Skarsgard
John Finlay – Tom Hardy/Shia LaBeouf
Mario Tabraue – John Turturo/Nic Cage
Jeff Lowe – Sean Penn/Jeremy Renner
James Garretson – Louis Anderson
Barbara Fisher – Linda Cardellini/Jenna Fischer
John Reinke – Alan Arkin
Travis Maldonado – Noah Centenio
Kelci Saffery – Alex Borstein
Josh Dial – Josh Gad
Tim Stark – Ben Mendehlson
Allen Glover – Chris Cooper/Stephen Lang
Rick Kirkham – Billy Bob Thornton/Steve Buschemi
Anne McQueen – Melissa Leo
Have you seen TIGER CATS? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the doc series and/or your own casting picks!