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Judge won’t rule in time to stop ‘Tiger King 2′ premiere

Carole Baskin appeared in federal court in Tampa on Monday.
Carole Baskin, left, and her husband, Howard Baskin, leave the Sam Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa on Monday after attending a hearing in their lawsuit against Netflix ahead of the release of Tiger King 2.
Carole Baskin, left, and her husband, Howard Baskin, leave the Sam Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa on Monday after attending a hearing in their lawsuit against Netflix ahead of the release of Tiger King 2. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Nov. 15
Updated Nov. 18

TAMPA — The show will go on as scheduled for Netflix’s Tiger King 2.

Married Tiger King stars Carole and Howard Baskin appeared in federal court Monday as their lawyer argued that the sequel would cause irreparable harm to the Baskins if released as planned on Nov. 17.

The hearing in the Tampa-based U.S. Middle District of Florida regarded the Baskins’ request for an injunction to halt the release of the documentary while their lawsuit against Netflix and Tiger King’s producers moves forward.

“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle if it comes out,” said the Baskins’ attorney, Frank R. Jakes.

That lawsuit accuses the producers of Tiger King 2 of using unauthorized footage of the Baskins. Jakes argued Monday that releases the Baskins signed for the original Tiger King documentary did not mention or apply to sequels. The Baskins run the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.

Related: Hillsborough detective explains search for Don Lewis since 'Tiger King 2'

Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson did not issue a ruling on Monday, sounding exasperated as he explained that even if he chose to issue an injunction, he had no time to do it before the premiere, less than 48 hours away.

“It just isn’t going to happen that something will be done by the 17th,” Wilson said.

The Baskins’ attorney said his clients had no issue with Tiger King 2 being released — if the show first removed footage taken of the couple that was covered in the releases.

Defense attorneys argued that delaying the release would hurt Tiger King 2′s marketing momentum, and that re-editing the documentary at this point would be a massive undertaking. The process would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, they said, and cause months of delays.

Related: Tampa's Carole Baskin sues Netflix over 'Tiger King 2'

Netflix’s attorneys argued that the bigger issue is that it would harm Netflix’s First Amendment rights and “freedom of the press” if a judge exercised “prior restraint” by preventing the documentary’s release.

Jakes argued that it wouldn’t make a difference to Netflix’s bottom line if the show was released this week, or next year. “This isn’t news,” he said, “it’s entertainment.”

Related: A year after 'Tiger King,' what's Carole Basking up to? A Q&A with the Big Cat Rescue founder

Jakes later told the Tampa Bay Times that even though he expected Tiger King 2 to premiere on Wednesday, “We’re not dropping our effort to stop it.” He added that even if some people see it, every day it stays available for streaming “still hurts.”

“We’ll have to watch it to be able to respond to it,” Howard Baskin said outside the Sam Gibbons United States Courthouse. “We’ll probably have substantial wine beforehand.”

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More than 64 million households watched the original Tiger King in its first month of release in March 2020, Netflix said.