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“In the Heat of the Night”: Third Incarnation of Mississippi Story With Tate Taylor at the Helm

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.–“In the Heat of the Night” may be coming back to television. This time, Mississippi-born director Tate Taylor is set to be in charge. The cable channel MGM TV is said to be developing the series, which would be set in the present day.

“Variety” magazine reported the series was being prepped last week. Taylor, who directed “The Hep” and the James Brown biopic “Get on Up” was listed as one of the executive producers, along with Warren Littlefield.

Taylor managed to get “The Help” filmed on location in his home state. For “Get on Up”, he was able to film the entire movie in Mississippi, though it was set in various states and even in Paris, France.

The magazine did not say whether the series would be filmed in Mississippi.

The two previous film incarnations were not filmed in the Magnolia State, even though the story is set here, in the fictional Sparta.

The 1967 movie was filmed mostly in Belleville, Illinois and in Missouri. The closest that film crew got to Mississippi was Tennessee. The film’s star, Sidney Poitier, said he believed Mississippi in 1967 would have been less than welcoming to a film crew whose story was controversial for the time. It involved a black detective, Virgil Tibbs, solving the murder of a white man in the segregated Sparta, whose police force was all white.

In the 1988 NBC TV series, Tibbs and Chief Bill Gillespie (Howard Rollins and Carroll O’Connor) solved murders in a more updated and racially friendly Sparta, on a weekly basis. But, again, even though the series was set in Mississippi, it was filmed first in Hammond, La., then in Atlanta suburb Covington, Ga.

That series’ crew and cast were unhappy with Hammond because it was too small.

That makes speculation about whether a weekly TV series could be filmed in Mississippi a bit on the negative side. But, there has been no official word from Taylor or the cable channel.

The series is set to examine racial and justice issues in modern Mississippi.

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