Carroll O'Connor frequently sparred with producers over ridiculous plotlines on ''In the Heat of the Night''

"'Highly imaginative' is a euphemism for 'garbage.'"

MGM Television

Carroll O'Connor had toughness in spades, and more importantly, he wasn't afraid to fight for what he wanted. While O'Connor didn't develop In the Heat of the Night for television, he had his hand in production that helped make the show possible. In addition to starring in the series as Bill Gillespie, O'Connor also worked as a writer, director, and producer. This meant that he had a bit more weight in the writer's room than any actor, with a closeness to the character that made O'Connor fiercely protective of the series.

O'Connor talked about his work on the series in an interview with The San Bernardino County Sun and commented on people working on In the Heat of the Night who were responsible for pitching certain plotlines that seemed to be so ridiculous they pushed the suspension of disbelief.

"I'm saying, 'You think it's good? If you think it's good, you're pathetic idiots. This is the worst recycled garbage I've ever had to work with,'" O'Connor said. Plenty of plotlines in In the Heat of the Night were so dramatic they kept the audience on the edge of their seat, but O'Connor was keen to ensure that the series always stayed grounded in reality.

"I don't want to do outlandish, highly imaginative things. 'Highly imaginative' is a euphemism for 'garbage.' I think a lot of writers — all they're in touch with is their own imaginations, and their own imagination is fed by other television and other movies. They're writing not out of an experience of life but out of other TV shows and other movies."

"I want In the Heat of the Night to be a show that attracts people because it's about life they know and people they know."

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2 Comments

Mark112763 20 days ago
Was never a fan of In The Heat Of The Night but always liked Carroll O'Conner and recall seeing him in a number of movies he appeared in during his career including Kelly's Heroes and Waterhole Number Three. I like All In The Family but can't stand his liberal son-in-law, meat head...
Runeshaper 26 days ago
I think O'Connor was right to try to keep In the Heat of the Night focused on realistic experiences. It's a GREAT show!
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