Lt. Kojak is one of those iconic figures of pop culture yore whose name carries enough familiarity, and attitude, to suggest revival possibility, but who doesn't quite have the timeless appeal to automatically connect with newer audiences. It's likely that most younger film and television viewers of today have, at one time or another, heard of Kojak. And it's just as likely that they've never actually seen him in action, or even really wanted to.
This theory is abetted by the short-lived return the character (originated by actor Telly Savalas) made to the television screen in 2005, embodied this time around by Ving Rhames. The post-millennium USA show only lasted 10 episodes, failing to muster up the allure that Kojak warranted back in the '70s. But this doesn't mean there's no hope for a character like the New York City-based police lieutenant. His reincarnation needs simply to be handled delicately and ingeniously. In short, make him a movie: Deadline reports that Universal has set forth a film adaptation of the Kojak character to star Vin Diesel. The studio is handing scripting responsibilities to Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written the last five James Bond movies, including this year's excellent Skyfall. Hollywood.com reached out to Vin Diesel's reps, but they were not immediately available for comment.
At first glance, we seem to be gearing up for a pretty action-heavy interpretation of the concept, with Diesel dueling mustachioed criminals atop speeding trucks. But the original Kojak series, while not devoid of action, was built more upon the foundations of the drama and tension of criminal activity and the legal process — it would better be called a precursor to Law & Order than to Diesel's big screen work.
But this collection of creative forces might not be a bad choice for a Kojak movie. Aside from bearing a striking resemblance to Savalas (you can say that they're both just tan bald dudes, but there's more to it than that!), a now 45-year-old Diesel could be looking to take slower-paced roles with a bit more weight — we have seen a decrease in frequency of his cinematic output over the past couple of years. And as we saw in Skyfall, Purvis and Wade are adept, not only at crafting fight scenes, but also booming drama. Kojak purists, however many of them there might be out there, shouldn't be deterred. Fans of Diesel will be happy to hear about him headlining another cop picture, and perhaps delighted to see him take on a bit more gravitas with this one. And everyone who liked Skyfall — which is everyone, ever — should be encouraged by the screenwriters' reunion for a new non-Bond movie.
[Photo Illustration by Hollywood.com; Photo Credit: WENN; Ana Ulin/flickr]
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Actor Stanley Kamel has been found dead of a suspected heart attack.
The 65-year-old was reportedly discovered by his longtime agents in his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday afternoon.
Los Angeles emergency services responded to a 911 call made at Kamel's home shortly before 4 p.m.
Kamel is best known for starring in numerous TV shows like The West Wing, Six Feet Under and Beverly Hills, 90210.
In recent years he became known as eccentric detective Adrian Monk's psychiatrist on hit show Monk.
In a statement from the USA network, which airs Monk, executives say: "USA is deeply saddened by the news of Stanley Kamel's passing. Stanley was an amazingly talented and extremely kind man, and an important member of the USA family. He will be sorely missed."
Born in New Jersey, Kamel enjoyed almost 40 years as a TV regular, landing his first roles on shows like Mission: Impossible and The Mod Squad in the late 1960s.
He went on to appear in beloved shows like Kojak, Charlie's Angels, Mork & Mindy, Lou Grant, Hill Street Blues, Knight Rider and Barney Miller.
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Roberts hospitalized for pregnancy
Julia Roberts, who is due to deliver twins sometime in January, was hospitalized in Los Angeles Saturday after experiencing some early contractions, Reuters reports. According to a report in People magazine, Roberts, 36, was accompanied by her husband Danny Moder to an undisclosed hospital and was hooked up to a fetal monitor. When the contractions eventually stopped, Roberts hosted an impromptu bedside baby shower the next day, People said. Roberts' condition was not serious but her doctors plan to keep her under observation for a few more days, advising the Oscar-winning actress to stay in bed until she gives birth, the magazine added.
Judge allows police video of Rip Torn at trial
A judge ruled a video showing actor Rip Torn cursing at police officers after his drunk driving arrest in New York last January can be shown to jurors at his trial, which is set to begin next week. The 45-minute police videotape, released to the public Tuesday and screened for Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert Stolz at a pretrial hearing last Thursday, shows Torn slurring his speech, swearing at police and at times, nodding off, Reuters reports. "Go to hell, you guys. I'm telling you, you guys are all going to jail," Torn bellows in an expletive-laced outburst, knocking down a chair while refusing to take a sobriety test at the police precinct. "Take these cuffs off me." Torn was taken into custody after the car he was driving crashed into the back of a taxi in Greenwich Village on Jan. 13. A police officer described Torn's appearance as "disheveled, his hair messy (and) his eyes glassy and red." The 73-year-old actor has pleaded innocent to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Stern criticizes FCC head
Shock jock Howard Stern made a surprise call in to San Francisco's 810 KGO-AM Tuesday during an interview with Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, berating him for undermining free speech, Reuters reports. "I don't think that you personally hate me ... I think what you've been doing is dangerous to free speech. I think things have gotten way out of control," Stern said, referring to the FCC's proposed plan to fine stations a total of about $2.5 million for airing incidents on Stern's show. The fine includes the $495,000 penalty against Clear Channel Communications Inc. for an incident that led the company to drop him from six stations. Stern recently signed a multimillion-dollar deal to take his show in 2006 to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., a subscription service to which decency rules do not apply.
Hilton, Ritchie give Simple Life a third shot
Rich girls Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie are packing up their bags for a third installment of the hit Fox show The Simple Life, Reuters reports. This time, the pair will tour major cities and take intern jobs, including a stint on Wall Street and in a classroom. Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie, told Reuters she is hoping the big-city tour will mean she won't ever have to put her arm inside a cow again. "I'm just over doing manual labor, we don't want to get dirty any more," she said. Meanwhile, Richie's best friend Hilton has been recently linked with Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis, The Associated Press reports. Hilton's spokesperson told AP, "They are good friends who met through mutual friends" but wouldn't comment any further, while Sydney's Daily Telegraph cited sources saying the Wimbledon finalist had ended his 10-month relationship with pop singer Delta Goodrem earlier this month.
USA loves Rhames as Kojak
USA Network is planning to remake the 1970s CBS detective show Kojak with actor Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead) attached to star as the bald-headed, lollipop-lovin' cop made famous by the late Telly Savalas. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cabler had initially envisioned doing a series of Kojak TV movies with Rhames because the actor's busy feature schedule would not allow him to commit to a regular series. But USA executives were so pleased with the first film, which wrapped production in August, that they were able to work out a schedule with Rhames to allow for the production of eight additional one-hour episodes, beginning January in Toronto.
Freddie Prinze Jr. follows in dad's footsteps
Big-screen star Freddie Prinze Jr. is moving to the small screen with a half-hour sitcom for ABC. According to Variety, the show will feature Prinze as a Puerto Rican man living in a household of women--something the 28-year-old actor said he has personally experienced. "When I was 14, my grandfather passed away, and I became man of the house, whether I wanted to be or not," he said. His father, Chico and the Man star Freddie Prinze, committed suicide in 1977, less than a year after his son was born. Prinze said he was initially thinking about tackling an hour-long drama until his wife, ex-Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar, reminded him of how terrible the hours can be.
Stephen King names pet peeves of 2004
Author extraordinaire Stephen King has compiled his list of Pet Peeves of 2004, published in his Entertainment Weekly column, the AP reports. King's list, which appears in EW's Oct. 29 issue, rates his bugbears with "annoyance levels" ranging from minor headache to head-splitting migraine. Britney Spears, for example, rates a minor headache while ads before theatrical movies rate a head-splitting migraine. Real estate tycoon and The Apprentice star Donald Trump received a moderate to severe headache. "One can avoid the TV show, but lately the Donald's face is everywhere, and the hideous comb-over always floats above it," King writes. King notes that although pop culture is full of pleasures, it also has its share of annoyances: "For every pretty, talented Elisha Cuthbert there is a Paris Hilton (and her little dog, too)."
BIFA nominations announced
Nominations for the British Independent Film Awards, now in their seventh year, were announced yesterday, Reuters reports. Scarlett Johansson, who was nominated for her role in Girl With A Pearl Earring, is the highest profile name in the best actress category, which includes Anne Reid (The Mother), Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss), and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake). Meanwhile, Geoffrey Rush (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers), Paddy Considine (Dead Man's Shoes), Phil Davis (Vera Drake), and Ian Hart (Blind Flight) will compete in the best actor category. Pics are in the running for Best British Independent Film include Vera Drake, Dead Man's Shoes, Touching the Void, Shaun of the Dead and My Summer of Love. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 received a nod for Best Foreign Film.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
Remake of the classic 1970's crime drama featuring the character Kojak, a crime fighting detective. The story follows Kojak as he hunts down a serial killer targeting prostitutes with young children. After visiting a crime scene where he meets a victim's orphaned children, he vows to avenge the killings.