TV Detective News: A Sex Change for 'McCloud'

An Ongoing Fascination With ’70s-era TV Crime Busters

By Buck Wolf

March 9  — Help! Help! I woke up suddenly with Starsky & Hutch in theaters and a behind-the-scenes Charlie's Angels biopic on TV. Call MacGyver! I've been kidnapped and sent back in time.

To whoever put me in a time machine: I give up. I'll negotiate. I'll watch all your re-jiggered '70s-era crime shows one more time. Just don't make me relive puberty.

I know that sequels and Hollywood rehashes are as much a part of life as the never-ending war on terrorism, and neither are going away any time soon.

The focus on the '70s TV crime genre, however, is unexpected, and can't even be blamed on Robert Blake, who's going on trial for the murder of his wife, not for over-emoting on Baretta.

The crime parade will continue. The USA Network is talking about an all-new Kojak, with Ving Rhames as the lollypop-sucking chrome-dome detective.

McCloud may also ride back into town — and this time, he's saddling up for a sex change. Comic Brett Butler is developing the series, featuring herself as the cowboy detective originally played by Dennis Weaver in a Stetson and sheepskin jacket.

I decided it's high time someone investigated the great TV investigators — not for scandal, but for comic value. If the crime busters of TV yore are making a comeback, it's our right to put them under the microscope.

I'll leave Mr. Blake out of it, since he's been under the microscope just a little too long. As for rest, look what I found:

Kojak: Here's a big fat Greek coincidence: Telly Savalas was not just TV's most popular baldy. He also had ties to the boob tube's most famous hairdo. He was Jennifer Aniston's godfather. Her original family name is Anastassakis.

Savalas was so popular in his mid-'70s heyday as the tough-as-nails Manhattan detective with a heart of gold that he never had to use Kojak's catch-phrase — "Who loves ya, baby?" — off-screen. Everyone did.