‘Black Panther’ and ‘People v. O. J. Simpson’ Writer Joe Robert Cole Will Write ‘In the Heat of the Night’ TV Series Reboot

Joe Robert Cole / "In the Hear of the Night" / MGM

Joe Robert Cole / “In the Hear of the Night” / MGM

First announced in 2014, MGM, seemingly uninterested in fresh, novel, original ideas, continues to mine its library for remakes/reboots. You’ll recall the recent “RoboCop,” “Carrie” and “The Magnificent Seven” remakes, as well as the “Rocky” spin-off movie “Creed,” with remakes of “Poltergeist,” “WarGames,” “Death Wish,” and others all in development.

Two years ago, the studio announced that it was developing a drama series based on its 1967 classic drama “In the Hear of the Night,” with none-other-than Tate Taylor (director of “The Help” and “Get on Up”) writing and directing.




Keep in mind that there has already been a television series based on the film and novel of the same name, which was broadcast on NBC from 1988 until 1992, and then on CBS until 1994, starring Carroll O’Connor as the white police chief William Gillespie, and Howard Rollins as the African American police detective Virgil Tibbs.

The Tate Taylor edition, which he was to executive produce with Warren Littlefield, would of course be set in the present day, tackling similar issues of race, class, justice and inequality that the original film and subsequent TV series did.

It appeared that the series reboot may have been shelved, but it’s still very much alive. Skip ahead from 2014 to today, to an announcement that MGM has tapped Joe Robert Cole – writer & producer of FX’s multiple award-winning “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and co-writer (with director Ryan Coogler) of the upcoming Black Panther movie – to take over for Tate Taylor and write the new series adaptation, although Taylor will remain as director and executive producer with Warren Littlefield (who developed the movie’s previous TV series adaptation) and John Norris.

The potential series doesn’t have a TV home yet, but, as was announced 2 years ago, the project will be shopped to cable networks, which makes the most sense.




The original 1967 film was directed by Norman Jewison, based on the 1965 John Ball novel of the same name which tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi. It starred Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, and won 5 Academy Awards, including the 1967 award for Best Picture.

The film was followed by two sequels, “They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!” in 1970, and “The Organization” in 1971.

The first TV series launched in 1988.

So who would you cast as Virgil Tibbs if this reboot of the series eventually lands at a network.

Deadline was first to report the news of Joe Robert Cole’s attachment.

5 Comments

  1. The role of “Virgil Tibbs” should definitely go to Lance Reddick–but only if this series is produced for cable or Netflix/ Amazon. This reboot has to be grittier than its predecessor, in order for it to surpass it creatively, and those platforms are the only ones that will allow that to happen.

  2. At least they replaced the crappy white writer with a good black one. Now they just need to push Tate off the project completely. I still watch the Rollins/O’Connor version and you just can’t let fake, out of touch white people in charge of this type of project w/o it suffereing significantly.

  3. The role of “Virgil Gibbs” should go to, Lance Gross, Blair Underwood, or Malik Yoba, and the role in “Chief Gillespie” should go to Kevin Costner, or Tommy Lee Jones…..Just my opinion

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