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USA Sets Next Movie in Socially Conscious Film Series (Exclusive)

The 1968 best picture Oscar winner "In the Heat of the Night" is the fifth feature under the Characters Unite film series initiative.

USA Network has set the next movie for its socially conscious Characters Unite film series, which began in 2012, in conjunction with Black History Month.

The NBCUniversal-owned cabler will premiere the groundbreaking 1967 feature In the Heat of the Night on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 9 p.m., The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Directed by Norman Jewison and based on the 1965 John Ball novel, In the Heat of the Night tells the story of a white man (Rod Steiger) and a black man (Sidney Poitier) working together to solve a murder investigation in a racially hostile Southern town. The film, released around the time the U.S. Civil Rights Movement was taking shape, won five Academy Awards -- including best picture and best actor for Steiger.

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Quincy Jones, who composed the film's score, will introduce the film prior to its broadcast.

"In the Heat of the Night is a compelling, brilliantly executed exploration of racial tensions nearly 50 years ago, a critical time in our history," said Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman. "That it still resonates today is a sad reminder that though we've come a long way, intolerance and injustice are still very much with us. It's a perfect example of the timeless potential of movies to shine a powerful light on complex social issues."

"It was a privilege to compose the music for In the Heat of the Night and be part of a film that played a role in helping to advance civil rights in our country," said Jones. "Through this film, and the Characters Unite campaign, we can learn more about our past and recommit to create a better future in which -- as the great Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed -- all of our children are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

In the Heat of the Night marks the fifth film under the Characters Unite film series initiative, which launched in April 2012 with To Kill a Mockingbird and an introduction by President Barack Obama.

The other films featured were The Color Purple, Milk and Schindler's List, with introductions by Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and Steven Spielberg. Schindler's List drew 3.2 million viewers in February 2013.

February is USA's Characters Unite Month.

Email: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
Twitter: @insidethetube