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Insecure alum Y’lan Noel will star in the project from Lee Daniels, writer/showrunner Leigh Dana Jackson (Raising Dion, Foundation) and director Gerard MacMurray (Burning Sands, The First Purge). The drama, based on a 1969 novel by Sam Greenlee, follows Dan Freeman (Noel), the first Black officer in the CIA — a patriot, a Vietnam veteran and, secretly, a revolutionary.
Based in part on Greenlee’s own experience at the United States Information Agency, The Spook Who Sat by the Door is set in the 1960s and follows Freeman’s experience in becoming the first Black operative at the CIA. Recruited as part of an affirmative action program, Freeman goes through training in high-level combat and espionage — only to be given a job in the agency’s “reprographics” (photocopying) department and “left by the door” in order to show that there was a Black employee to visitors.
The novel was previously adapted for a 1973 feature film starring Lawrence Cook as Freeman and directed by Ivan Dixon.
“The Spook Who Sat by the Door was my dad’s favorite book,” Daniels said in announcing FX’s pilot order. “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.”
Disney’s 20th Television, where Daniels has an overall deal, is producing the pilot, which was optioned through Daniels’ inclusion fund. Daniels, Jackson, MacMurray and Lee Daniels Entertainment president Marc Velez executive produce.
In addition to Insecure, Noel’s credits include Netflix’s The Photograph, The First Purge (where he worked with director MacMurray) and 2018 feature The Weekend. He is repped by WME, Stride Management and Hansen Jacobson.
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