Vin Diesel is the new Kojak

This week in remaking properties the target audience is way too young to remember, Universal has hired Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (a team that’s written five Bond movies and one Johnny English movie) to update the Telly Savalas detective show Kojak for a contemporary film. What’s more, Vin Diesel is set to play the lead role. Which makes perfect sense, because they’re both bald!

The series, which ran from 1973-78, was a popular procedural with an iconic cop, and the scribes will re-imagine and contemporize it for the big screen. Diesel, who just wrapped Fast And Furious 6 for the studio, will play the chrome-domed cop in the film, which he’s producing with Samantha Vincent for their Universal-based One Race Films. [Deadline]

You may remember that Ving Rhames played a modern version of Kojak for 10 episodes on the USA network back in 2005. Ha, just kidding, I’m not even sure Ving Rhames remembers that.

I’m sure you’re all huge Kojak fans and you own the box set on DVD, but just in case it’s been too long since you read the novelization, here’s quick refresher from Wikipedia (yeah, I know).

The series was set in the New York City Police Department’s Eleventh Precinct (the building shown was actually Ninth Precinct), Manhattan South Patrol Borough. The show revolved around the efforts of the tough and incorruptible Lieutenant Theodore (“Theo”) Kojak (Telly Savalas), a bald, dapper, New York City policeman, who was fond of Tootsie Roll Pops and using the catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?” The Greek-American Kojak was stubborn and tenacious in his investigation of crimes—and also displayed a dark, cynical wit, along with a tendency to bend the rules if it brought a criminal to justice. Savalas described Kojak as a “basically honest character, tough but with feelings—the kind of guy who might kick a hooker in the tail if he had to, but they’d understand each other because maybe they grew up on the same kind of block.

That is an amazing description. I love that Savalas – who died in 1994 – was trying to explain that his character was a little rough around the edges but essentially good, and his first thought was, “well, he’d beat a whore’s ass, but only because he had to, and she’d respect him for it afterwards.” Was being a borderline personality a prerequisite for starring in a cop show in the seventies? Seems like it.

Meanwhile, I imagine that in the update, Vin Diesel will play dapper, mixed-race New York City policeman Alonzo Salvatore Kojak, who favors fur coats, feather boas, dark goggles, and blue tooth headsets, who isn’t afraid to BASE jump or rail grind if it’ll bring criminals to justice, who’s fond of NOS energy drink™ and is known for his iconic catchphrase, “get some.”

(just some more Vin Diesel fan art).

Included, courtesy of commenter Chalupa Batman. Wow.