As I said when this was first announced 3 years ago, they could just create an entirely new crime drama project for Vin Diesel to star in; but, no, it has to be based on an already existing work, if only because there’s an already existing fan base for it, and they hope that Diesel’s popularity will also attract new, younger audiences who may have never watched a single episode of the original TV series – believed by some to be one of the greatest TV shows of all time!
Since there really hasn’t been any news on the project in the 3 years after it was made public, I was actually hoping it was dead and buried. Apparently, not so.
Deadline is reporting that Philip Gawthorne has been hired to write the screenplay for Universal Pictures’ modern-day film adaptation of “Kojar,” which Diesel will star in as the title character, and also produce.
Of course I’m talking about “Kojak” (I think the name has even become a verb, or an adjective, hasn’t it?), the gritty CBS police procedural series starring Telly Savalas as the bald, tough, usually dapper, stubborn and tenacious character – an NYC detective with a dark wit, who had no problem bending the rules if it meant getting the job done, and solving a case.
The series ran from 1973 to 1978, on CBS.
Universal Pictures previously tapped the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to pen the script; but it looks like it could be that whatever they came up with wasn’t satisfactory, as Gawthorne has now been brought on to take a crack at it.
How much re-imagining and contemporizing will happen, we don’t know yet. But since the first writers hired are the same team who wrote the “Skyfall” script (they actually wrote the 4 previous James Bond movies), maybe we’ll get a less gritty, and more glossy Kojak. The work of the current writer hired is unknown to me. He’s actually a British playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, and his resume to date, comprises of primarily episodes of various British TV shows.
Now let’s all try imagining Diesel speaking Kojak’s popular catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?”
Savalas, who died in 1994, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series two years in a row, winning the Emmy in 1974. He was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Drama Series from 1975 to 1978, winning twice, in 1975 and 1976.
I wasn’t on planet earth for the original run of the series, but I caught up much later, long after the series went off the air, when I was old enough to watch. This would be a good time for binge-watchers to either reintroduce themselves to the series, or watch it for the first time, before Vin Diesel’s movie. I know Hulu has all 3 seasons, streaming.
I should also note that Ving Rhames starred in a TV remake of “Kojak” in the early 2000s. But it didn’t last long.