Joe Exotic TV show bound for Brisbane in $19.5m mega deal


A TV series starring Kate McKinnon as controversial big cat lover Carole Baskin is bound for Brisbane as part of a multimillion-dollar deal with media giant NBCUniversal.

In a major boost for Queensland's screen industry, Joe Exotic is one of three big-budget TV shows that will film back-to-back at Brisbane's Screen Queensland Studios and on location in Queensland over the next 18 months, including Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's 11-part comedy series Young Rock and a new drama set in Queensland, called Irreverent.

The Australian Government will today announce the $19.5 million deal with NBCUniversal's Universal Studio Group, in what are the first productions lured to Australia under the Location Incentive program since it was given a $400 million boost in July.


Carole Baskin in Netflix series Tiger King. Picture: Netflix
Carole Baskin in Netflix series Tiger King. Picture: Netflix


It is understood NBCU were offered a grant through the Queensland Government's Production Attraction Strategy before the Federal Government's boosted tax break, which effectively creates a 30 per cent tax offset for international productions, provided the sweetener that closed the deal for Queensland.

Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the productions would inject $140 million into the local economy and create 3,000 jobs - including 1,000 cast and crew and 2,000 extras.

He said the three large-scale and high profile projects would "reinforce Australia's appeal as a COVID-safe location" for filming.

"The productions will provide invaluable opportunities for Australian cast and crew, create a pipeline of work for local post-production, digital and visual effects businesses, and engage workers in sectors such as construction, transport, accommodation and hospitality," Mr Fletcher said.

The partnership will also significantly upgrade the studio infrastructure in Brisbane.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was a sign of confidence in Queensland's economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Due to the measures we have in place and the amazing efforts of Queenslanders in dealing with this pandemic, Queensland is one of the safest places to film not just in Australia, but in the world," she said.

Casting for Dwayne Johnson's new TV series under way in Queensland

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is bringing filming of his biographical story to Brisbane in October. Picture: Facebook

Comedy series Young Rock, produced by and starring Dwayne Johnson, is due to begin production in late October, focusing on the world's highest paid actor's formative years, culminating in him running for US presidency.

Joe Exotic, an eight-episode series, is expected to start in early 2021, starring Emmy-winning actor McKinnon as Baskin, who rose to global notoriety this year following her appearance in juggernaut Netflix docuseries, Tiger King.

McKinnon is also an executive producer on the project, which is based on the hit Wondery podcast depicting the true events surrounding Baskin and her rivalry with exotic animal lover Joe "Exotic" Schreibvogel, whose role is yet to be cast.

It will be followed by ten-part series Irreverent, developed by Australia's Matchbox Pictures, which follows a criminal from Brooklyn, New York, who bungles a heist and is forced to hide out in a reef town in Far North Queensland, where he poses as the new church reverend.

Matchbox Pictures, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal International Studios, will produce the three TV series for three NBCU entertainment platforms - broadcast network NBC, streaming service Peacock, and basic cable network, USA - in what will put a global spotlight on Queensland's screen industry.

Joe Exotic in a scene from the true crime TV series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Supplied by Netflix.
Joe Exotic in a scene from the true crime TV series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Supplied by Netflix.

"These projects will have Australian creatives and technical talent all over them," said Matt Vitins, Matchbox Pictures' chief operating officer.

"In the case of Irreverent, we have an Australian developed project that will put Queensland, as Queensland, on US network television.

"We are excited about the talent we will be working with across the board, especially the new Australian talent we will be able to showcase to an international audience."

Irreverent was supported by the Queensland Government's Far North Queensland Screen Production Strategic Plan

Screen Queensland chief executive Kylie Munnich said it was "a massive boost for the Queensland screen industry and a vote of confidence in how safe Queensland is as a major destination for film and TV production".


Originally published as Joe Exotic TV show bound for Brisbane in $19.5m mega deal