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Racial harmony in the U.S. has seen a lot of ebbs in the past few months, and part of that conversation will presumably be making its way to TV in MGM Television’s remake of the Oscar-winning film In the Heat of the Night. Showtime, a network known for shows filled with controversy, has joined in on developing this hopefully honorable adaptation.
This version of In the Heat of the Night, at least the pilot, will be written and directed by Tate Taylor, best known for 2011’s The Help and this year’s James Brown biopic Get On Up. We can assume this tale will skew a little darker than both of those films. Taylor will executive produce with Warren Littlefield, one of the guys behind Fargo’s success at FX, and John Norris, who is better known for his visual effects producing on movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This is a solid creative team who could do a lot of good with this, but the story has to have some weight.
While details about the project are slight, THR describes it as “an exploration of character and race set in modern-day Mississippi, which happens to be Taylor’s home state.” (The Help was also set there.) The 1967 movie, directed by Norman Jewison, centered on a racist white Mississippi police chief (Rod Steiger) who ends up working with a black detective (Sidney Poitier) to solve a murder. Doesn’t exactly paint the South in the best of lights, to say the least. Check out the trailer below and pretend people are using smartphones and talking about gluten allergies.
TV audiences are probably also familiar with the previous small screen version of the story, which starred Carroll “I was already pretty prejudiced on All in the Family” O’Connor and Howard Rollins filling in for the leads. The show lasted for eight seasons, jumping from NBC to CBS at one point, and then shifting from episodes to made-for-TV movies. You’d think at this point, Showtime could have just created an original show about a racist cop in a difficult partnership and had people just say it was merely similar to In the Heat of the Night. It’s not like a bunch of shows haven’t done that already.
While not quite in the same realm of TV pickups, Showtime made huge waves a couple of days ago by announcing they would be bringing David Lynch and Mark Frost’s wacky drama Twin Peaks back to audiences. Do you guys think that network is a good fit for In the Heat of the Night, and how long before somebody turns 227 into a murder mystery?