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December 02, 1987|RICK SHERWOOD | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Howard Rollins will join Carroll O'Connor in MGM-TV's series adaptation of "In the Heat of the Night" for NBC. Rollins, nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Ragtime," plays detective Virgil Tibbs, the role played by Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film of the same title. O'Connor, as previously announced, will play Sheriff Bill Gillespie (originally played by Rod Steiger). NBC has ordered a two-hour premiere episode, which began filming this week in Hammond, La., and six additional one-hour segments. The drama, which will be set in the South but updated to the 1980s, is tentatively set to debut in February.

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