Kojak

Last updated
Kojak
Kojak tv 1973.svg
Title logo, 1973-1974
Genre Crime drama
Created by Abby Mann
(suggested by the book Justice in the Back Room, written by Selwyn Raab)
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes118 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers Abby Mann
James Duff McAdams
Matthew Rapf
Running time60 minutes
Production company Universal Television
Distributor NBCUniversal Syndication Studios
(2004-2011)
Release
Original network CBS
Picture format4:3
Audio format Mono
Original releaseOctober 24, 1973 (1973-10-24) 
March 18, 1978 (1978-03-18)

Kojak is an American action crime drama television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon series, it aired on CBS from 1973 to 1978.

Contents

In 1999 TV Guide ranked Theo Kojak number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list. [1]

Production

The show was created by Abby Mann, an Academy Award–winning film writer best known for his work on drama anthologies such as Robert Montgomery Presents and Playhouse 90 . Universal Television approached him to do a story based on the 1963 Wylie-Hoffert murders, the brutal rape and murder of two young professional women in Manhattan.

Owing to poor and corrupt police work and the prevailing casual attitude toward suspects' civil rights, the crimes in the Wylie-Hoffert case were pinned on a young African-American man, George Whitmore Jr., who had been arrested on a separate assault charge. After illegally obtaining a confession, the police had the suspect all but convicted until a second investigation by a different team of detectives exonerated the suspect and identified the real killer, Richard Robles, who was convicted in 1965 and sentenced to life in prison.

Mann developed the project as a gritty police procedural, but with a subtext focusing on institutionalized prejudice and the civil rights of suspects and witnesses. The result was a 1973 made-for-TV movie, The Marcus-Nelson Murders. The opening and closing titles of the film emphasized the point that it was a fictional account of the events that led to the creation of Miranda rights by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. Selwyn Raab's book Justice in the Back Room provided Mann with some of his inspiration for the story of The Marcus-Nelson Murders, and the series subsequently included a credits reference to having been "suggested by a book by Selwyn Raab". [2]

Savalas starred in The Marcus-Nelson Murders as a police detective whose last name was spelled "Kojack". The film served as a pilot for the Kojak television series. Kojak himself was a composite character, based on a number of detectives, lawyers, and reporters who were involved in the Wylie-Hoffert murder case. [3]

Plot

The series is set in the New York City Police Department's Eleventh Precinct (the building shown was actually Ninth Precinct), [4] Manhattan South Patrol Borough. [5] The series was also filmed in New York City.

The show revolved around the efforts of the tough and incorruptible Lieutenant Theodopolus ("Theo") Kojak (Telly Savalas), a bald, dapper, New York City policeman, who was fond of Tootsie Roll Pops and of using the catchphrases, "Who loves ya, baby?" and "Cootchie-coo!" 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.

In the context of the script, Kojak's was seen as typical squad room humor, which was picked up later in the TV drama Hill Street Blues . 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." [6] Kojak's Greek American heritage, shared by actor Savalas, was featured prominently in the series.

In the early episodes of the series, he is often seen smoking cigarettes. Following the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on smoking, cigarette commercials were banned from American television in 1971, and public awareness of the dangers of cigarette smoking increased dramatically during the 1970s. To cut down on his own habit, Kojak began using lollipops as a substitute. The lollipop made its debut in the Season 1 episode "Dark Sunday", broadcast on December 12, 1973; Kojak lights a cigarette as he begins questioning a witness, but thinks better of it and sticks a lollipop (specifically, a Tootsie Pop) in his mouth instead. Later in the episode, Kevin Dobson's character Crocker asks about the lollipop and Kojak replies, "I'm looking to close the generation gap." Although Kojak continued to smoke, as he was frequently seen lighting a cigarillo, the lollipop eventually became his identifying characteristic; in fact, when the series debuted a new opening montage in season five, Kojak is seen both lighting a cigarillo and popping a lollipop into his mouth.

Telly Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak with ubiquitous lollipop Kojaktelly.jpg
Telly Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak with ubiquitous lollipop

His longtime supervisor was Capt. Frank McNeil (Dan Frazer), a man who never seemed to know what was going on. Later in the series, McNeil was promoted to Chief of Detectives in Manhattan. Kojak is the commander of the Manhattan South Precinct's detective squad. His squad includes one of his favorite employees, young plainclothes officer, Det. Bobby Crocker (Kevin Dobson). Detective Stavros, played by Telly's real-life brother George Savalas, used the name "Demosthenes" as his screen credit during the first two seasons. George Savalas, under his real name, also received a Production Associate credit during the first season and a Production Assistant credit for the second season. Detective Saperstein (Mark Russell), and Detective Rizzo (Vince Conti), all gave Kojak support. Roger Robinson appeared in 12 episodes as Detective Gil Weaver.

Although the show primarily focused on Kojak's police work, it occasionally veered into other areas of the character's lives, such as the first-season episode "Knockover" which included a subplot involving Kojak romancing a (much younger) female police officer. In 1976, crime writer Joe Gores received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Episode in a TV Series Teleplay for the third-season episode "No Immunity for Murder" (first aired November 23, 1975).

The show was canceled after five seasons in 1978, due to falling ratings. Reruns of Kojak became successful in syndication and on TV Land. Years after the series ended, Savalas reprised the role in two CBS TV movies, Kojak: The Belarus File (1985) (an adaptation of the John Loftus book The Belarus Secret) and Kojak: The Price of Justice (1987) (based on Dorothy Uhnak's novel The Investigation). Kojak is not a character in either book.

In 1989, ABC revived the series again with five additional TV movies. These films saw now-Inspector Kojak lead the NYPD's Major Crimes Squad. Andre Braugher was cast as a young detective assigned to Kojak's command.

Telly Savalas and Dan Frazer are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the original series. Kevin Dobson appeared in all but two episodes. George Savalas appeared in all but three episodes and Frazer, Dobson, and G. Savalas appeared in one Kojak TV movie each.

Characters

Music

Two main title themes were used for the show. The somewhat better-known first Kojak theme, in two distinct arrangements, is the work of Billy Goldenberg, who scored the first two episodes of the series (Goldenberg also scored the series' pilot movie). The first of these two arrangements was used for episodes 1-27. The second of these two arrangements was used for episodes 28–96. Kim Richmond scored the series' third episode. John Cacavas composed the second main title theme used for the show's fifth and final season. In addition, Cacavas composed the music score beginning with the series' fourth episode and continued throughout the remainder of the series.

Goldenberg's first Kojak theme had lyrics, written by Bill Dyer. The song, entitled We'll Make It This Time (Theme From Kojak) was performed by Sammy Davis Jr. on his 1976 album The Song And Dance Man.

Episodes

Kojak aired for five seasons on CBS, from 1973 to 1978 for a total of 118 episodes. In the United Kingdom, the series premiered on 24 August 1974 on BBC1. In 1985, seven years after the series ended, Telly Savalas returned to play Kojak in seven TV movies beginning with Kojak: The Belarus File. The first two were aired by CBS and the latter five were aired on ABC as part of their ABC Saturday Mystery Movie theme block. His character was promoted to the rank of captain, and later inspector. Andre Braugher co-starred as Det. Winston Blake, and for one TV movie, Kojak: It's Always Something, Kevin Dobson returned as Bobby Crocker, now an assistant district attorney. Guest stars in these TV movies included Angie Dickinson, Marcia Gay Harden, Max von Sydow, Jerry Orbach and Suzanne Pleshette.

Esquire TV aired the series in multi-hour blocks Wednesdays from September to mid-October 2015. MeTV picked Kojak up for its late night lineup shortly thereafter. Today, Cozi TV airs Kojak approximately six months during a calendar year.

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings

SeasonTime slot (ET)RankRating [7]
1973–74 Wednesday at 10:00 p.m.723.3 (Tied with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour )
1974–75 Sunday at 8:30 p.m.1423.3
1975–76 Sunday at 9:00 p.m.2021.8
1976–77 Sunday at 9:00 p.m. (1976)
Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. (1977)
63 [8] 17.1 [9]
1977–78 Sunday at 10:00 p.m. (October 2 – December 4, 1977)
Saturday at 10:00 p.m. (December 10, 1977 – March 18, 1978)
87 [10] 14.3 [11]

Remake

In March 2005, a new Kojak series debuted on the USA Network cable channel and on ITV4 in the UK. In this re-imagined version, African-American actor Ving Rhames portrays the character. The series only lasted one season.

Film

David and Leslie Newman's original script for Superman: The Movie featured a cameo appearance by Savalas as Kojak, with Superman mistaking him for Lex Luthor and accidentally capturing him. This scene was written out of the film after Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz became involved and shifted the film towards a less campy and more serious tone. [12]

Universal Pictures is planning to make a film version of Kojak, with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to write the script for the film. Vin Diesel [13] will star as Kojak and produced the film with Samantha Vincent. [14] Philip Gawthorne was hired to construct a new draft for the film. [15]

On June 19, 2015 it was reported in media outlets that playwright Philip Gawthorne is on board for the new Kojak movie being written for Universal. Kojak is being produced by Diesel's Universal-based One Race Films with Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the writing team behind James Bond films including The World Is Not Enough and Skyfall , joined the project in 2012 to write a previous draft. [16]

Spin-off media

Despite the show being ostensibly produced for an adult audience, Peter Pan Records produced an album of audio dramas based upon the series, aimed at children. [17]

Home media

Universal Studios released season 1 of Kojak on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4 in 2005–2006. Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released.

On February 14, 2017, Universal Studios re-released season 1 on DVD in Region 1. [18]

On May 25, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the Region 1 DVD rights to the series. [19] They have subsequently released the remaining 4 seasons on DVD as well as a complete movie collection. [20]

In Region 2, Mediumrare Entertainment has released seasons 2–5 on DVD in the UK.

In Region 4, Shock Entertainment has released seasons 2–5 on DVD in Australia. [21]

ProductEpisodesDVD release dateBlu-ray
release date
United States (R1)United Kingdom (R2)Australia (R4)
Season 122March 22, 200518 July 200513 July 2005
Season 225September 27, 201126 April 2010
Season 324March 20, 201226 April 2010
Season 425May 1, 201229 August 2011
Season 522September 11, 2012 [22] 29 August 2011
The Complete Movie Collection8January 24, 2012
The Complete Series12517 November 2014

Related Research Articles

<i>Hawaii Five-O</i> (1968 TV series) 1968 American TV series

Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and created by Leonard Freeman. Set in Hawaii, the show originally aired for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980, and continues in reruns. At the airing of its last episode, it was the longest-running police drama in American television history and the last fictional primetime show that debuted in the 1960s to leave the air.

<i>Knight Rider</i> (1982 TV series) 1982–1986 American television series

Knight Rider is an American action crime drama television series created and produced by Glen A. Larson. The series was originally broadcast on NBC from 1982 to 1986. The show stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech, modern crime fighter assisted by KITT, an advanced, artificially intelligent, self-aware, and nearly indestructible car. This was the last series Larson devised at Universal Television before he moved to 20th Century Fox Television.

Telly Savalas American film and television actor and singer

Aristotelis Savalas was an American actor and singer whose career spanned four decades. Noted for his bald head and deep, resonant voice, he is perhaps best known for portraying Lt. Theo Kojak on the crime drama series Kojak (1973–1978) and James Bond archvillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

<i>Maude</i> (TV series) American television series 1972-1978

Maude is an American sitcom television series that was originally broadcast on the CBS network from September 12, 1972, until April 22, 1978.

<i>The Jeffersons</i> American sitcom

The Jeffersons is an American sitcom television series that was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, to July 2, 1985, lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes. The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms, the second-longest-running American series with a primarily African American cast, and the first to prominently feature a married interracial couple.

<i>Cannon</i> (TV series) Television program

Cannon is an American detective television series produced by Quinn Martin that aired from 1971 to 1976 on CBS. William Conrad played the title character, private detective Frank Cannon. The series was the first Quinn Martin production to run on a network other than ABC.

Kevin Dobson American film and television actor

Kevin Patrick Dobson was an American film and television actor, best known for his roles as Detective Bobby Crocker, the trusted protege of Lt. Theo Kojak in the CBS crime drama Kojak (1973–1978), and as M. Patrick "Mack" MacKenzie in the prime time soap opera Knots Landing (1982–1993).

<i>Colonel Bleep</i> First color cartoon series on television

Colonel Bleep is a 1957 American animated TV series, which was the first color cartoon series made for television. It was created and written by Robert D. Buchanan, and was animated by Soundac, Inc. of Miami. The show was originally syndicated in 1957 as a segment on Uncle Bill's TV Club. One hundred episodes, of varying length of between three and six minutes each, were produced. Of these episodes, 44 episodes are known to exist in some form, eight of which are only available in monochrome.

George Savalas

Georgios Demosthenes Savalas was an American film and television actor. He was the younger brother of actor Telly Savalas, with whom he acted in the popular 1970s TV crime series Kojak.

<i>Get Christie Love!</i> American crime-drama television series

Get Christie Love! is an American crime drama TV series starring Teresa Graves as an undercover African-American female detective which originally aired on ABC from January 22, 1974, until April 5, 1975. The starring television role made Graves the second African-American female lead in a U.S. network drama, after Diahann Carroll in Julia. The series is based on Dorothy Uhnak's crime-thriller novel The Ledger.

<i>Carter Country</i>

Carter Country is an American sitcom that aired on ABC from September 15, 1977 to August 23, 1979. It starred Victor French and Kene Holliday. A young Melanie Griffith appeared in two episodes.

<i>The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries</i> American television series

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries is a television mystery series based on Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novel series. The series, which ran from January 30, 1977 to January 14, 1979, was produced by Glen A. Larson from Universal Television for ABC. Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy starred as detective brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, respectively, while Pamela Sue Martin starred as amateur sleuth Nancy Drew.

Burton Armus is an American police officer, actor, writer and television producer. Armus' Hollywood career began when, while he was still serving as an NYPD detective assigned to the 48th Squad in the Bronx, he was hired to be the technical advisor on the TV series N.Y.P.D. in 1967. He also wrote the episode "Boys Night Out" for that series. Later, still a serving detective, he was picked by Telly Savalas to act as a technical adviser on the Kojak series. He also acted in three of the episodes, and wrote nine of them. Following his retirement from the police department he moved to Los Angeles and became a successful writer and producer. He is now retired from this second career. Director Richard Donner, who directed three episodes of Kojak, named a detective in his blockbuster film Superman after Armus.

<i>Kojak</i> (2005 TV series)

Kojak is an American crime drama television series starring Ving Rhames. It aired on the USA Network cable channel and on ITV4 in the United Kingdom. It was a remake of Kojak starring Telly Savalas.

Daniel Thomas Frazer was an American actor, born in a West Side neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. He was probably best known for his role as Captain Frank McNeil, the former partner turned supervisor of Theo Kojak, Telly Savalas's character, in the 1970s TV police drama Kojak. His screen career started in 1950.

Doctors' Private Lives is a 1978 American made-for-television drama film starring John Gavin, Donna Mills, Ed Nelson, Barbara Anderson and directed by Steven Stern. It was broadcast on ABC on March 20, 1978.

Hellinger's Law is a 1981 TV movie starring Telly Savalas, and directed by Leo Penn. It was the pilot for a proposed TV series starring Savalas which was not made, and was screened as a stand-alone film.

References

  1. TV Guide Guide to TV . Barnes and Noble. 2004. p.  651. ISBN   0-7607-5634-1.
  2. Kojak Closing. October 2, 2010 via YouTube.
  3. Van Gelder, Lawrence (August 4, 1996). "Thomas J. Cavanagh Jr., 82, Who Inspired 'Kojak', Dies", The New York Times , August 4, 1996.
  4. Reuss, Edward D. "The Fighting 9th Rises Again". Edward D. Reuss. NYCop.com. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  5. Tim Brooks, Earl Marsh (2007). "Kojak (Police Drama)". The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (9th ed.). Random House. p. 748. ISBN   978-0-345-49773-4.
  6. Hernandez, Raymond (January 23, 1994). "Telly Savalas, Actor, Dies at 70; Played 'Kojak' in 1970s TV Series". The New York Times .
  7. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (Ninth ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 1687. ISBN   978-0-345-49773-4.
  8. https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/77-OCR/BC-1977-04-25-OCR-Page-0040.pdf
  9. https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/77-OCR/BC-1977-04-25-OCR-Page-0040.pdf
  10. https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/78-OCR/1978-05-01-BC-OCR-Page-0036.pdf
  11. https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/78-OCR/1978-05-01-BC-OCR-Page-0036.pdf
  12. "Comic Legends: Did Superman Nearly Meet Kojak?". CBR. 2016-12-04. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  13. Vin Diesel Interview on The Jonathan Ross Show. May 11, 2013 via YouTube.
  14. Mike Fleming Jr (December 2012). "Universal Sets 'Skyfall' Scribes Purvis & Wade To Script 'Kojak' For Vin Diesel". Deadline. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  15. "Philip Gawthorne Tapped To Write 'Kojak' For Vin Diesel And Universal; Scott Stuber And Dylan Clark Board As Producers". June 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  16. "Vin Diesel 'Kojak' Movie Moves Ahead with Screenwriter Philip Gawthorne". Variety. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  17. "Kojak (Peter Pan 8188)". Discogs.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  18. Universal to Re-Release 'Season 1' DVDs...Who Loves Ya', Baby? Archived 2016-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Lacey, Gord (25 May 2011). "Kojak - Shout! Factory to Continue Kojak?". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  20. Lambert, David (October 10, 2011). "Kojak DVD news: Box Art and Details for Kojak - The Complete Movie Collection | TVShowsOnDVD.com". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  21. "New Release DVDs and Boxsets - ScreenPop - ScreenPop Australia". screenpop.com. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  22. Lambert, David (July 27, 2012). "Kojak - Shout! Factory's Formal Fact Sheet for the Final Season 5 DVD Set". TVShowsOnDVD.com . Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012.