Classic '70s TV sleuth Theo Kojak, played memorably by Telly Savalas on a long-running CBS series, is coming back to life. Unlike Savalas, the new actor is not Greek or even likely to be mistaken for Greek, but he does have a rumbling baritone, charisma, an edgy persona, and a clean-shaven pate. But does Ving Rhames like lollipops?
Variety reports that the ''Pulp Fiction'' star, who recently completed a guest arc on CBS' law enforcement drama ''The District,'' will play Kojak in a movie on cable's USA. If it's a hit, the network hopes to do a series of Kojak movies. Savalas himself, who starred in the series ''Kojak'' from 1973 to 1978, continued to play the police lieutenant in six TV movies made between 1987 and 1990. He died in 1994.
Why Rhames? ''Ving is such a versatile actor, with a powerful presence and unique persona, so it seemed like a great marriage,'' USA programming vice president Jeff Wachtel told Variety. ''Telly Savalas is so closely identified with the role, we needed someone this unique and powerful.'' Hey, we'll tune in just to hear Ving drop a ''Who loves ya, baby?''