Writer and producers board Vin Diesel and Universal's big screen Kojak
Universal has been developing a movie version of Kojak for some time but it was not until recently that Vin Diesel made it clear that the movie was moving forward. Now we know just where it stands as Universal has found producers and a writer for the adaptation of the Telly Savalas cop show. Deadline reports that British writer Philip Gawthorne has been brought in to write a new draft. The previous version was scripted by SKYFALL writers Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.
Gawthorne is primarily known for working on BBC series like Eastenders but is currently writing the remake of CUBE with Roy lee and PROMETHEUS' Jon Spaihts. He also wrote the spec script WORLD BREAKER which has been getting buzz in Hollywood. Gawthorne joins the project along with producers Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark who will work with producers Diesel and Samantha Vincent.
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?" 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."
Kojak was remade once before in 1999 as a series with Ving Rhames in the title role. The new film would likely aim for the core PG-13 audience that Vin Diesel has catered to with his FAST AND FURIOUS films, but it could go darker and more violent depending on how Universal wants to market it. I would envision this being somewhere along the lines of THE BOURNE IDENTITY in terms of violence and tone.
Vin Diesel can pretty much greenlight any project he wants these days and he has long been vocal about playing Kojak. As long as they make this a decent cop movie and not another formulaic studio film, I am all in.