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Amazon scraps Nicolas Cage's 'Tiger King' series

Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, left, will no longer

Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, left, will no longer be playing convicted zoo owner and "Tiger King" star Joseph Schreibvogel, aka Joe Maldonado-Passage, in a scripted series for Amazon Prime Video. Credit: Composite: AP, left; Santa Rosa County Jail via AP

Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage says that Amazon Prime Video's planned "Tiger King" series, in which he was set to star as real-life zoo owner Joseph "Joe Exotic" Shreibvogel, has been canceled.

"We should clear the record," Cage, 57, told the trade magazine Variety in an article posted Tuesday. "I read two excellent scripts, which I did think were excellent, but I think Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together. They felt at one point that it was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it's no longer relevant."

Newsday has confirmed that the project is no longer in development.

Inspired by last year's Netflix documentary miniseries "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," the planned eight-episode scripted series was based on the June 2019 Texas Monthly article "Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild." The surprise-hit Netflix documentary had covered Shreibvogel, aka Joe Maldonado-Passage, the owner of an Oklahoma exotic-animal park, and his feud with Florida big-cat rescuer Carole Baskin. In Jan. 2020, Shreibvogel was sentenced to 22 years in prison for crimes including attempting to hire an assassin to kill Baskin.

Cage's scripted series began development in spring 2020 under Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios. In September, Amazon Studios came aboard. It is unrelated to the scripted miniseries "Joe Exotic," starring Sea Cliff native Kate McKinnon as Baskin, which was announced in Nov. 2019 and was based on the Wondery podcast network's "Over My Dead Body" true-crime series. That miniseries is scheduled to run on NBC, its streaming service Peacock and the basic-cable network USA.

Cage, currently earning good critical notice for the film drama "Pig," opening Friday, has done virtually no scripted television other than his screen debut, as Nicolas Coppola, in an ensemble comedy-variety pilot in 1981.

He won a best actor Oscar for his work in "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), and earned a second nomination for "Adaptation" (2002). In addition to his work in several prestige projects through the decades, he is equally known for his prolific string of independent and oddball movies. "There's less pressure and more oxygen in the room on an independent movie to express yourself," Cage told Variety.

COURT ORDER ORDERS SHORTER SENTENCE FOR JOE EXOTIC. A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Schreibvogel should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws, reports The Associated Press. Joe Exotic was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver found that the trial court wrongly treated those two convictions separately in calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines.

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