You can’t blame Hollywood for being hot on Vin Diesel right now – the actor is a killer box-office draw whose last two films, Furious 7 and Guardians of the Galaxy, were box office smashes. Just recently, Lionsgate made moves to secure Diesel for a new franchise that will kick off with this fall’s The Last Witch Hunter, and now Universal is doubling down on the star as well, recruiting scribe Philip Gawthorne to pen an adaptation of the TV series Kojak for Diesel to star in.
The original series aired from 1973 to 1978 on CBS and starred Telly Savalas as New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. The character, a tough but honest cop with a cynical streak, was known for his love of Tootsie Roll Pops and for the catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?”
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Gawthorne will be building a franchise around the character, who will be played by Diesel. The scribe is working from a previous draft by Skyfall scribes Neal Purvis & Robert Wade. After cutting his teeth on British soaps like Eastenders and Holby City, Gawthorne has become a hot commodity in Hollywood and is currently working on Lionsgate’s Cube remake as well as a buzzy medieval epic called World Breaker, to be directed by The Signal helmer William Eubank. The writer has experience crafting long-lived characters on the small screen, and he’ll do his best to make Kojak a memorable leading man.
Diesel and Samantha Vincent will produce Kojak via their One Race Films banner, while Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark are coming aboard through their Bluegrass Films banner (both shingles are set up at Universal).