Lee Daniels’s (Empire, Precious) next television project has found its lead. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Y’lan Noel (The Weekend, The First Purge) has been tapped to star in Daniels’s The Spy Who Sat By the Door at FX. Based on the novel by Sam Greenlee (Baghdad Blues, Blues for an African Princess), the series focuses on the CIA’s first Black officer recruit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series is set in the 1960s and will follow Noel as Dan Freeman, the first Black agent for the government’s Central Intelligence Agency. As a result of the organizations’ affirmative action program, Freeman excels in all his training. As he earns his stripes to enter the field, he is abruptly placed in the photocopying department with a desk next to the door. Thus, the story’s title as he is the literal “spook” at the door to signify the CIA has met their diversity quota.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Greenlee wrote the novel partially from his own experiences as a government employee. Before this TV adaptation, the book was adapted for film in 1973. Directed by Ivan Dixon (Quantum Leap, Nothing But A Man) the movie starred Lawrence Cook (Lord Shango, Colors) in the pivotal role.
Daniels will executive produce the series with his Lee Daniels Entertainment President, Marc Velez (Mason Dixon, I Can’t Date Jesus) The Hollywood Reporter reports. Series showrunner and writer Leigh Dana Jackson (Raising Dion, Foundation) and director Gerard MacMurray (Burning Sands, Battle Buddy) will join them. 20th Television, which Daniels has an overall deal, will produce the series.
In addition to this project, Daniels’s deal with Disney has him bringing The Wonder Years back to ABC. The series reboot will follow an African American family living in Montgomery, Alabama in the latter 1960s. The show recently found its lead in Elisha “EJ” Williams (Henry Danger, Puppy Dog Pals). Daniels’s latest film, The United States vs Billie Holiday, scored an Oscar nomination for its lead, Andra Day (Marshall, Ben-Hur). Day won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Film for her role as Billie Holiday in the film.