Carole Baskin believes the Netflix hit "Tiger King" got "just about everything wrong" about her.
The animal activist and CEO of Florida's Big Cat Rescue was a controversial figure in the documentary series that highlighted her longtime conflict with former zookeeper Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage, who is currently serving prison time after being convicted of twice hiring people to kill Baskin.
Baskin, 60, says her new Discovery+ docuseries, "Carole Baskin's Cage Fight," is a more accurate depiction of her life and animal activism than what people saw in "Tiger King" last year.
"It got just about everything wrong," she told Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on the fourth hour of TODAY Friday. "When people see 'Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight,' that’s who I really am. That’s my real voice, that’s me out there really chasing down these bad guys. It’s not just a bunch of talking heads that are trash-talking each other.
"This is real stuff where people are going to be in the trenches, literally, with me."
In "Tiger King," Maldonado-Passage alleges that Baskin's second husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997, was killed by Baskin and fed to her tigers in her sanctuary. Baskin feels her portrayal on the show cast her as a villain to many as the foe opposite Joe Exotic.
"It was really hard because I couldn’t understand why people hated somebody who was going after animal abusers," she said. "I thought people loved animals, and I didn’t really realize how the script had been so twisted to make people have such a false opinion."
She said producers pitched her "Tiger King" on the premise that it would be similar to the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" about the alleged mistreatment of killer whales in captivity. "Tiger King" is more focused on Joe Exotic and the cast of characters working at his Oklahoma zoo, as well as his conflicts with Baskin and others.
"They said it was going to be 'Blackfish' for big cats," Baskin said, adding, "We thought that's what we were working on."
In "Cage Fight," which premieres Saturday, Baskin directly brings up the accusations leveled against her about her ex-husband's disappearance and other claims from "Tiger King."
"The entire planet knows this woman as a murderer, a homewrecker, a gold digger," she says on the show. "Don definitely is buried under the septic tank, now he's definitely buried under the house, you know, they say he was definitely ground up and fed to the tigers. How is it they can't come to one lie and everybody agree on that lie?"
Baskin decided not to shy away from addressing some of the explosive claims from "Tiger King."
"I think that whenever I have seen the public’s reaction, that’s the takeaway that they got from 'Tiger King,'" she said. "They felt like I was this horrible person, and so the only way to deal with it is to deal with it right upfront."
Baskin has now filed a federal lawsuit to try to stop the release of the second season of "Tiger King" later this month. The filing seeks to prevent the use of footage of Baskin and her current husband in “Tiger King 2” and its promotional material.
"We filed a lawsuit because we did not sign up for that," Baskin said on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.
In a public filing, Netflix told the court it did not need an appearance release and is not prohibited from using the footage shot for "Tiger King 2," and Baskin's claims cannot overcome its First Amendment protections.
"I really can’t talk about pending litigation," Baskin said about Netflix's response. "We’ll see what the court does."
The second season of "Tiger King" isn't the only show in the works involving Baskin, as "Saturday Night Live" star Kate McKinnon is set to star as Baskin in an upcoming limited series called "Joe Exotic" on Peacock. (Peacock is part of our parent company, NBCUniversal.) Baskin said she has not spoken to McKinnon about the role.
"She actually nailed the messy hair look," Baskin said about McKinnon.
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