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.