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Copping Out

Posted: Month 17, 2004

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Chief of Detectives

As you read this, you can bet that Hollywood is still trying to figure out exactly how to translate the unearthly box office of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ into a flood of religious-themed blockbusters. But while the Powers That Be in Tinseltown debate how best to proceed on that front, there's another copycat trend to tend to: The unceasing glut of remakes of '70s cop show properties. The sturdy performance of the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson vehicle Starsky & Hutch -- the film scored a respectable second place to Passion during its opening weekend -- shows that this particular genre hasn't yet played itself out.

With that in mind, we here at Shaking Through World Headquarters have dispatched our spies into the boardrooms, bedrooms and smoke-filled back rooms of Hollywood, scouring development meetings and production schedules for a glimpse of the next Starsky, S.W.A.T. or Charlie's Angels. As you might expect, we got nada -- our spies aren't all that good, frankly. But, undeterred, we've come up with our own suggestions for the next installments in this action-packed field. (And yes, one of them is a detective show, not a cop show. We know. Don't bother correcting us; we don't want to hear it.) Herewith, here are the next logical TV properties that should, in a perfect world, make their way to your local megaplex soon.

CHiPs: The California Highway Patrol gets a Torque makeover. The story focuses on three young officers (Y Tu Mama Tambien's Diego Luna, Tru Calling pin-up Eliza Dushku, and her The New Guy co-star D.J. Qualls) under the command of grizzled chief Ernie Hudson. The squad zooms into action to combat high-tech, rocket-powered motorcycles being used in a rash of drug-related homicides. The CHiPs trace the bikes to three covert government operatives (Miguel Ferrer, Paget Brewster, and The West Wing's Bradley Whitford), who've purchased the rocket technology from a Russian entrepreneur (Alfred Molina) in order to support, via arms and drugs, a terrorist cell whose actions have been benefiting the Vice President's old oil company. Jimmy Smits and Jerry O'Connell play the terrorists: Erik Estrada cameos as his beloved character Ponch, now a famous talk-show guest after having written a best-selling book about his years on the force. Renny Harlin directs from a script by Robert Towne.

Holmes and Yoyo: This obscure cop comedy (it lasted less than a season) kicks off a potentially lucrative action franchise. Bad-boy NYPD cop Alex Holmes (Stephen Baldwin) is shunned by his fellow detectives; his partners have a habit of dying on him. When a top-secret government Artificial Intelligence project falls into the hands of a Donald Trump-like real estate developer (John C. McGinley) with connections to the head of the Jersey mob (Tony Danza) and a Serbian scientist/arms dealer (Mickey Rourke), the head of the CIA (Ronny Cox) pairs Holmes with Gregory "Yoyo" Yoyovich (Jake Gyllenhaal), a covert cyborg operative whose operating system is an earlier version of the AI program. Rourke gets a hold of Yoyo's source code, rendering him an officious, by-the-book type secretly programmed to sabotage the case. Department techie Anthony Anderson then loads experimental anti-virus software into Yoyo's hard drive, introducing free will and a grounding in quantum theory, which allows the cybernetic crimefighter to "think outside the box." Conversely, Holmes learns to care about someone other than himself when his unrequited crush, Detective Maxine Moon (Katie Holmes) -- who only has eyes for Yoyo -- is kidnapped by Danza. Gyllenhaal gets to coin a few action-movie catch-phrases ("Walk the dog!" "Around the world!" "Loop-de-loop!"). Steven Soderbergh directs a script by Darren Aronofsky.

Ironside: Police detective Robert Ironside (Will Smith) gets too close to a plot by the fast-food conglomerate Big Food: It's introducing mind-control substances into its menus in congressional districts whose representatives are pushing anti-obesity legislation that would regulate the company out of millions in profits. CEO Zachariah Food (Chris Cooper) dispatches a pair of assassins (90210's Brian Austin Green and Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek) to eradicate Ironside, but they only succeed in making him a paraplegic. Determined to bring down Big Food and get revenge, Ironside persuades his tech-geek best friend (Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen) to build him a tricked-out, high-tech wheelchair complete with sophisticated electronic surveillance gear, Internet access and a rocket launcher. Tom Clancy writes the screenplay; Wolfgang Peterson directs.

Kojak: Vin Diesel finally takes the role he was born to play: That of NYPD detective Mike Kojak, nephew of Telly Savalas' prime-time sleuth Theo Kojak (now retired). Jason Bateman plays Chase Salducci, a brash, spoiled, thrill-killing securities trader who's the scion of a once-powerful crime family the elder Kojak helped take down; he begins targeting people close to the younger Kojak, including his uptight partner (Mad TV's Michael McDonald) and Bernie Mac (who takes over Andre Braugher's role as Theo Kojak's colleague Winston Blake, now the police commissioner). Charisma Carpenter (Angel) is Bateman's equally homicidal girlfriend, who gets chummy with Diesel's tough-minded D.A. girlfriend (Tisha Campbell). Steven Bochco directs, from a script by James Ellroy.

Mannix: Only The Rock can do justice to Mike Connors' hard-boiled but personable P.I. Joe Mannix. Joe gets an offer he can't refuse from Intertect, the investigation firm he used to work for before striking out on his own: Intertect's young, hotshot new executive (Mark Ruffalo) buys Mannix's small detective agency, and our hero decides to take an early retirement and move into a cushy job as consultant for a Hollywood detective series. But when an old detective friend (Peter Gallagher) dies investigating a mysterious murder by truffle, Mannix uncovers a deadly reality TV producer (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who's been hired by a cabal of filthy-rich CEOs to create a program for their own amusement, a kind of reality TV snuff film in which ordinary people are killed for fun by a bloodthirsty homemaking maven (Renee Zellweger) given to dispatching her targets with upscale, homemade foodstuffs. Christopher Plummer, Dennis Haysbert, Armin Shimerman and Will Ferrell play the members of the deadly clique. Charlie Kaufman writes; Bryan Singer directs.

Police Women: Meg Ryan parlays her gritty In the Cut role into this potential franchise, which expands upon the Angie Dickinson series Police Woman. She fills Dickinson's stilettos as Pepper Anderson, leader of the LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Unit. Pepper supervises a special all-female squad: a sharp, sexy lawyer-turned-cop (Eva Mendes); an ambitious career woman (Shannen Doherty) who wants Pepper's job; an aspiring actress (That '70s Show's Mila Kunis) who channels her aspirations into her undercover work; and a radical feminist (Ani DiFranco, who also provides the soundtrack) who bristles at working in a patriarchal police department and has a habit of getting violent with male suspects. The detectives investigate mysterious deaths and disappearances (one woman's breast implants explode; another is sold into white slavery) tied to action-hero California governor and potential Presidential candidate Bruce Willis, covering up his involvement in MAN (Masculine Advancement Network), a fringe "Men's Rights" group looking to roll back equal rights. Nora Ephron directs, from a script by Elaine May.

Streets of San Francisco: Much to his dismay, working-class SF cop Mike Stone (Edward Burns) finds himself partnered with effeminate gay detective Steve Keller (Will & Grace's Sean Hayes, doing a flamboyant Martin Lawrence impression). The mismatched pair is assigned to bring in a serial killer known in the press as The Penitent (Ben Chaplin), who confesses each of his crimes to a different priest, rabbi or clergy member -- each of whom turns out to have been suspected of molestation at one time. The twist is, the clergyman in question then becomes the next victim (Andy Richter, Paul Rudd and Eriq LaSalle make cameos as doomed preachers). Things get personal when the killer guns for Stone's retired pastor dad (Malachy McCourt), who once clumsily knocked over a candelabra, which conked an altar boy (Chaplin) on the head, possibly causing the brain damage leading to the current crime spree. The weighty, controversial religious theme is leavened by a comic subplot involving Keller's boyfriend, a closeted local politician played by Tim Allen who's hesitant to come out and publicly express his love. At the end of the film, Allen overcomes his phobia and the two get hitched in a legally worthless but no less heartwarming gay marriage ceremony, officiated by Rosie O'Donnell in a cameo. Gus Van Zant writes and directs.

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Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
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Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are