Lee Daniels' The Spook Who Sat by the Door Finds a Home at FX

Lee Daniels attends the TIME 100 Gala 2019 Lobby Arrivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City
Lee Daniels attends the TIME 100 Gala 2019 Lobby Arrivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City
Photo: Noam Galai for TIME (Getty Images)

The Spook Who Sat by the Door, the 1969 spy novel from Sam Greenlee, will be headed to a small screen near us soon, thanks to Lee Daniels.


Deadline reports that the Empire co-creator will executive produce the project, along with Lee Daniels Entertainment President Marc Velez. Raising Dion co-executive producer Leigh Dana Jackson will pen the script as well as serve as showrunner. Burning Sands and The First Purge director Gerard McMurray is also on board to direct. The series comes as a part of Daniels’ overall deal with Disney’s 20th Television.

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.”

First adapted in 1973 and directed by Ivan Dixon, the feature film starred Lawrence Cook, J.A. Preston, Paula Kelly and Janet League. Legendary pianist and jazz musician Herbie Hancock also composed and conducted the film’s original score. The new series will “look at the fictional story of Dan Freeman, the 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.’”

As of now, there has been no official word yet on who will star in the series or a potential debut date. Up next for Daniels is his Andra Day-led feature The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which is set to premiere on Hulu on February 26. The film stars Day as Billie Holiday, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite Is My Name), Rob Morgan (Just Mercy), Miss Lawrence (Star), Tone Bell (Sylvie’s Love), Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), Evan Ross, Natasha Lyonne, and Garrett Hedlund.



Used to run Into Sam Greenlee (the author of the book) at literary events around Chicago - poetry readings, etc. Really cool guy and was fun to talk to.