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FX has ordered a pilot for a series adaptation of Sam Greenlee’s spy novel “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” Variety has learned.
The adaptation of the book will be written by Leigh Dana Jackson, who will also serve as executive producer and showrunner. Lee Daniels and Marc Velez will also executive produce on behalf of Lee Daniels Entertainment. The book was originally optioned through the Daniels’ Inclusion Fund. Gerard McMurray will direct the pilot in addition to executive producing. 20th Television will produce.
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“’The Spook Who Sat By the Door’ was my dad’s favorite book,” said Daniels. “He’d be so proud that I’m doing this and even prouder that I’m doing this with Gerard and Dana—two bold and brilliant Black storytellers.”
“The Spook Who Sat By The Door” was previously adapted into a film in 1973 with Lawrence Cook in the lead role. The story follows Dan Freeman, the fictional first African American CIA officer hired by the agency in the late 1960s. The story chronicles the quest of Freeman, who was recruited as part of an affirmative-action program. After a very competitive selection process he trains in high-level combat and espionage. However, following this arduous training, this model recruit is rewarded with a post in the reprographics (aka photocopying) department, “left by the door” as a token of the CIA’s “racial equality.”
The novel was first published in March 1969 by Allison & Busby in the UK, and by the Richard W. Baron Publishing Company, in the U.S. Described as the first black nationalist novel, it has been translated into several languages and received the Sunday Times Book of the Year award in 1969.
Daniels is a celebrated filmmaker, having received two Oscar nominations for his film “Precious.” His other films include “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and the feature “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” On the TV side, he is known for co-creating the Fox dramas “Empire” and “Star.”
He is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, and Hansen Jacobson.
Jackson’s previous TV credits include “Raising Dion,” “24: Legacy,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Tomorrow People,” and the upcoming Apple series “Foundation.”
He is repped by WME, Gotham Group, and Goodman Genow.
McMurray most recently directed an episode of the rebooted “Twilight Zone” series at CBS All Access as well as the feature “The First Purge.” He wrote, directed, and executive produced his debut feature, “Burning Sands,” which was released in 2017.
He is repped by WME, Artists First, and Gang Tyre.
(Pictured, from left to right: Lee Daniels, Leigh Dana Jackson, Gerard McMurray)
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