December 19, 2004
Everything old is new again...again

Apparently, this is old news, but I hadn't realized it until I saw a promo on USA while watching a "Law and Order: SVU" rerun: Ving Rhames is going to play Kojak in a new series set to debut in March.

In his first series lead, Rhames, 45, will take over the role made famous by Telly Savalas, who set a new standard for pop-idol man-charm.

"In a world of Magnum, P.I. [Tom Selleck] and Mannix [Mike Connors], here was this unattractive, but sexy, bald guy," says USA programming chief Jeff Wachtel. "It was revolutionary at the time."

USA has ordered eight hourlong episodes, to launch in March. Shooting begins in January in Toronto. Rhames' Kojak movie, which wrapped this summer, will serve as the two-hour premiere.

USA was combing the library of new parent NBC Universal for possible remakes. Scripts were written for four '70s series: Wonder Woman (which starred Lynda Carter) and renegade-cop shows Baretta (Robert Blake), McCloud (Dennis Weaver), and Kojak.

After deeming Kojak the best fit, USA's brain trust gave the classic series a new spin by deciding to make the gruff, street-wise hero a black man.

If those were their other options, I'd say they chose wisely, and I say that as someone who had a major league crush on Lynda Carter back in the day. I'm still not sure what I think about this, since we're way past the saturation point of 70s cop show remakes. This guy seems to think it's a good idea, but I'll be reserving judgment for now. What do you think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 19, 2004 to TV and movies | TrackBack

Ving Rhames as Kojak seems to work, although one of the things about the series I seem to remember was the lead character occasionally referring to his Greek heritage. I can see Ving going past that and making the character his own.

On the other hand, he wouldn't work well as Wonder Woman, no matter how much makeup you put on him. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on December 19, 2004 4:26 PM