By Heather Gardner
May 08, 2020 at 11:09 AM EDT
Credit:; NBC; ABC

Eight weeks into the COVID19 lockdown and well, life is pretty different than it was a mere two months ago for most Americans; the masks alone are a surefire signal. So it’s nice to know that 56 days – give or take – later, one thing has remained exactly the same. Everyone is still completely obsessed with Netflix’s Tiger King, especially late-night hosts.

Honestly, given our ever-decreasing attention spans, Tiger King’s longevity is downright impressive. The seven-part docu-series premiered on Netflix on March 20, and while a month and a half may seem like not that long ago, consider how fast we all moved on from Netflix’s previous breakout hit, Love is Blind. The Bachelor style reality dating/marriage show was the talk of the town when it premiered on February 13, only to be dwarfed just three weeks later by Tiger King.

Now the series is in spin-off heaven with several projects underway. Deadline reported that Rob Lowe and Ryan Murphy are in early talks to develop a scripted project based on the docu-series; Lowe confirmed the news on his Instagram account, in Joe Exotic costume no less, writing, “Rob Exotic. UPDATE: Ryan Murphy and I will be developing our version of this insane story. Stay tuned!”

Kate McKinnon was ahead of the curve having secured the role of Carole Baskin back in November, long before the elusive animal activist became a household name. The SNL actress will star and executive produce a series based off of Wondery’s Podcast, “Joe Exotic.”

And many other actors have thrown their hat into the ring wanting their chance to play Joe. Dax Shepard launched a Twitter campaign when he declared, “If I don't get cast as Joe Exotic in the eventual biopic, Hollywood is broken.” Jared Leto made his case by posting a Tiger King inspired look on Instagram with the hashtag, #JaredLetoTigerKing. And Joe Exotic himself has even weighed in on who should play him in a movie: Brad Pitt (Hey, stranger things have happened! Just ask Dr. Fauci.) or David Spade. Spade recently chatted with Ellen Degeneres about hearing Joe’s wishes.

But official casting news broke this week announcing that Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage would be playing the title role in an upcoming television series based on a 2019 Texas Monthly article titled, Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into The World Of A Man Gone Wild, by Leif Reigstad. The report was enough to reignite the Tiger King fire back into late-night.

Jimmy Fallon did his best Cage impression reimagined as the Tiger King. His skit, complete with Joe’s blonde mullet and outlandish wardrobe, even included a nod to the zookeeper’s country music career. The bit was a welcome change of pace for the recent “Tonight Show” episodes which have understandably been pared down due to the COVID lockdown. Fallon really committed to playing the characters, too, even adding in Joe’s signature limp.

Now, a fair amount of celebrities have mentioned Tiger King while being guests on the late-night shows during quarantine. But none has given me quite as much joy as Kristin Chenoweth did when she chatted with Conan O’Brien this week. The Broadway legend admitted that she’s “obsessed with Carole Baskin,” and truer words have never been spoken.

Like most Tiger King viewers, Chenoweth has bought into the conspiracy theory that Baskin killed her first husband and fed his body to her tigers. Unlike most viewers though, she teamed up with Tony-nominated composer to release a music video based on the suspected murder. Little Pieces is a wild ride, particularly when Baskin’s, portrayed by Chenoweth, inner voice whispers, “chop him up, chop him up…” The song is a strange gem!

Perhaps the strangest Tiger King nod came from Jimmy Kimmel Live this week Kimmel presented a deep fake parody video called, “Lyin’ King,” with several members of the Trump administration’s faces CGI’d onto the Tiger King characters’ bodies. The result was hilariously frightening.

The President is at the helm as Joe, naturally. Trump’s face, with Joe’s voice, talking about porn is disturbing, one because the original scene from the Netflix show was nuts as is, and two, because the deep fake CGI isn’t half bad – not entirely believable, but weirdly close in this scene.

Vice President Mike Pence’s face also makes an appearance as Joe’s first husband John Finlay, and Rudy Giuliani is the jet ski driving James Garretson. Oh yes, “Eye of the Tiger” played as Rudy slow skied across the water. My favorite moment personally.

When will our fascination officially run out with Tiger King? Hollywood, and late-night it seems, is certainly hoping no time soon.

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