A TV adaptation of a classic novel is headed to FX. According to Variety, Leigh Dana Jackson (In the Game, The Numbers) will serve as showrunner for The Spook Who Sat at the Door. Jackson will write and executive produce the series along with Lee Daniels (Empire, The United States vs Billie Holiday) and Marc Velez (Waiting to Exhale, Mason Dixon) for Lee Daniels Entertainment. Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands, Fruitvale Station) is set to direct the pilot and executive produce as well. 20th Television Fox is also attached to produce.
According to Variety, the series is based on Sam Greenlee’s (Baghdad Blues, Blues for an African Princess) 1969 novel. The story illustrates a fictional tale of the first African American CIA officer, Dan Freeman. A product of affirmative action, Freeman goes through the laborious training to become an agent, only to be assigned a desk job. Freeman realizes he is the literal “spook at the door” hired to meet the organization’s racial quota. The book was first published in the U.K. until eventually landing stateside. It was awarded the Sunday Times Book of the Year Award the same year. Many consider it to be the first Black nationalist novel.
“The Spook Who Sat By the Door was my dad’s favorite book,” said Daniels via Variety. “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,” Daniels said via Variety.
This will be the second official adaptation of the book according to Variety. In 1973, Ivan Dixon (Hogan’s Heroes, Nothing but a Man) directed the film version of Greenlee’s novel. It starred Lawrence Cook (Posse, Colors) in the lead role. The supporting cast included J.A. Preston (Harvest of Fire, All’s Fair), Paula Kelly (Sweet Charity, The Women of Brewster Place), and Janet League (American Playhouse, The Edge of Night).
According to Variety, Daniels is fresh from directing The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which was recently purchased by Hulu. Starring Andra Day (Rise Up, Marshall) the film chronicles Holiday’s career as she becomes a target of the FBI for her anti-racist rhetoric. Jackson is connected to the upcoming Apple+ TV series, Foundation. His previous credits include Netflix’s Raising Dion and Fox’s 24: Legacy. McMurray recently made headlines as he is to direct John Boyega (Detroit, Small Axe) and Robert Di Nero (The War with Grandpa, The Intern) in the Netflix film, The Formula.