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Columbo: Nobody Wants ”Columbo’s Last Case”

Peter Falk as ColumboPeter Falk’s detective with the trademark rumpled raincoat and easy-going demeanor has been around for almost 40 years. Columbo movies ran for 10 years on NBC and the character was later resurrected for two dozen movies on ABC. Audiences love spending time with the seemingly bumbling cop and Peter Falk is anxious to play the character once more but there’s a little problem.

Universal Television has a completed Columbo movie script that was initially called “Hear No Evil.” It was later renamed “Columbo’s Last Case” and would mark the 70th and final time that Falk plays his popular character. Columbo has helped Falk earn four Emmy Awards and, if production began soon, the film could be ready for February 2008 (the 40th anniversary of the sleuth’s first appearance).

Unfortunately, none of the networks are interested. ABC, who aired 24 Columbo movies from 1989 to 2003, was offered the project but they declined. Executive VP of programming at NBC Universal Charles Engel says, “It took a while to find the right [script] and for Peter to give it the okay. It’s a darn good script with a really clever twist ending, but ABC opted not to go forward. No one wants to buy a movie with an 80-year old lead.”

NBC (who, like Universal Television, is also owned by General Electric) was offered the movie but the peacock network isn’t doing TV movies these days. NBC Universal ‘s USA Network passed on the project as well.

In a time when networks are desperate to attract younger audiences, is the lack of interest due to Falk’s age? William Link, who co-created the character with Richard Levinson, says, ” Ageism is rampant in Hollywood, at all levels, but this might be more than ageism. The detective shows on the broadcast networks are all police procedurals dominated by endless discussions of forensic evidence. Columbo was a classy, clever, witty show that challenged you to use your mind. It wasn’t something designed to just race across your retina. It didn’t rely on violence or technical jargon. It was a talky show, and there was an elegance to the talk, and that’s just the kind of thing that terrifies the networks these days.”

Fortunately, there is hope for “Columbo’s Last Case.” Columbo has a strong following in many countries across the globe like Japan, Germany, England, France, Italy, Romania, Holland, Brazil, Ecuador and even Iran. Engel is pursuing foreign partnerships which will hopefully take on some of the costs and make the project more financially appealing to a US network.

Engel concludes, “We owe it to the Columbo fans, to Peter, and to this great character to keep trying.” Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane July 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

It’s sad that we won’t ever get to watch the last episode and have it played by Peter Falk, but perhaps in the future someone will run with it as a tribute to Peter and blow us all away. I could watch Colombo for the rest of my life- I think it is the best TV series I have ever seen. There is no flaws in it and Peter Falk as Colombo teaches such wholesome values. Nothing comes close this type of entertainment.

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Isabel April 19, 2010 at 2:52 am

My name is Isabel. I am 60 and have watched Columbo since 1969. I loved the Columbo character. I would have loved to have seen Peter Falk reprise his role of Columbo in, “Columbo’s Last Case.”

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Anne April 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

I am 33 years old and grew up watching reruns of the Columbo series. I was able to see Peter Falk during the Hollywood Christmas parade some years back; he was a class act. I I am saddened to learn I will never see him reprise his role. The Columbo series stands out due to its ability to engage audiences without relying on violence. The show made audiences think and try to figure out who committed the crime. I so wish the networks would have filmed the final script when it was first offered. I wish audiences could have seen him reprise his classic role one last time. The networks cheated fans who had followed the series for decades. Peter Falk’s Lieutenant Columbo character is as timeless and classic as Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp character. I am very saddened to learn of Peter Falk is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and will miss Columbo. A bitter ending to a timeless classic.

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Chris Ainsley July 11, 2009 at 1:54 am

Given the fact that Peter Falk is now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and sadly incapable of remembering Columbo at all at the moment, this script will never be filmed with Peter in the lead.

I am very sad that Peter Falk is suffering so much and that he cannot remember his great achievements in his later years but he made art that will live forever and for that his life had deep meaning which will provide comfort for his family.

The end cannot be far away now and my hope is that the script will leak one day and we will have the satisfaction of a Swan-song and tribute to the both the character and the actor. I also feel sad for the loss of Patrick McGoohan earlier this year. Together, he and Peter made some classic episodes of one of the all time great TV shows.

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shane May 7, 2009 at 9:34 am

I lOVE COLUMBO, HE IS 81 SO HE COULD DIE SOON,
AND ILL CRY IF HE DOES, ANYWAY MAKE MORE COLUMO EPISODES PLEASE!
I LOVE COLUMBO AND, PETER FALK HAS TO BE COLUMBO

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Alex February 15, 2008 at 3:44 am

I think the major U.S. networks are making a big mistake here. Sure, a lot of younger people probably were too young to watch ‘Columbo’ in the late 1980s and 1970s, but the show has had, since that time, numerous re-runs. I was certainly too young to see the original NBC series, but have in recent years seen almost all of the NBC as well as the ABC episodes, and I think they’re all fantastic. I think the networks are vastly underestimating the appeal of Peter Falk as ‘Columbo’- especially in reprising his role in one final episode. And let’s not forget the built-in fan base that would be highy energized to watch a final ‘Columbo’ mystery. What else do we have to watch anyway? Endless ‘Law and Order’ and ‘CSI’ derivatives, with all their hackneyed jargon, catchphrases, trite and formulaic dialogue, their endless use of CGI close-ups, and profuse blood and gore? ‘Columbo’ was- and is- class personified.

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Walter J. Langbein February 4, 2008 at 2:37 am

Columbo has been and still is television-entertainment of highest quality. Peter Falk is ready to continue being Columbo, huge numbers of fans all over the world want the series to be continued…so do go on with Columbo. Those, who earnewd a lot of money with Columbo, they owe Peter Falk episode Nr.70, they owe Columbo episode Nr.70, and they owe us, the fans, episode Nr.70… so make it!

Walter

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ZAROVE November 20, 2007 at 6:58 am

I agree with all the posts here. CHange he name back to “Hear No Evil”, and shoot the thing.

Why keep us in the proverbail suspence?

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Susan Ennis September 27, 2007 at 6:28 am

I absolutley love Peter Falk = he IS Columbo. No one can replace him, he is a very unique character.

All of his fans need one last movie and then he can go on and live happily ever after….

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Jan August 30, 2007 at 8:55 am

I’m from Germany and this country LOVES Columbo. In 2003 Peter Falk was on Germanys biggest TV-Show ‘Wetten dass’ (Wanna bet?) to promote ‘Columbo likes the nighlife’ and it was great. He lost his bet and had to change into a german police uniform. lol
There has to be someone with the money to finance Episode 70. I mean: Peter’s 80th birthday, Columbo’s 40th anniversary and the 70th episode. It’s the perfect time!
Why not ask someone like George Lucas or Steven Spielberg for the money? They do have so much money, I don’t think that they would say no.

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marc goodwin August 23, 2007 at 7:11 am

if i could finance it i would….i dont think a new columbo would work…we would always compare the new lead with peter falk..the best series ever made

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Max Fiction April 13, 2011 at 8:53 am
Laura August 22, 2007 at 11:12 am

Did they ask the Hallmark Channel? It shows re-runs of Columbo and made for tv-movies with Dick Van Dyke who is 82 this year and doing great!

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Santanu Vasant August 18, 2007 at 1:00 pm

I’m 24 and I’ve been watching Columbo since the TV Movies of the 1990s. To me, they should make ‘just one more episode’ for the fans and as a tribute to Peter Falk and the whole shows cast etc for nearly 40 years of great murder mysteries. I saw him on Paul O’Grady a few months ago. Sure he’s 80 or so, but he was more full of life than any of the other guests on the show! I just saw Columbo likes the Nightlife this afternoon in the UK (first time). He’s still got it. I love the series. I’ve seen every episode now!

I really really hope they make this one and give it a title that isn’t ‘Columbo’s Last Case’. Good luck – come on, there must a fan with enough cash to finance this!!

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L. Feith August 9, 2007 at 8:07 pm

I am 45 this month, and the Columbo series has always been a big favorite in our home. I agree that the networks are foolish for not supporting this great actor and series with one last appearance on the screen. The cop shows of today can’t even come close to the brillance behind this series.
I do like the original name though “Hear No Evil”. That way in years to come, the series can re-run without ever having to keep acknowledging that the seires is over by changing the title to columbo’s Last Case. In any case, I’ll definately watch it and buy the DVD, if and when it comes out. Peter Falk is brilliant!

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Beaugrand July 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm

I would strongly suggest going back to the original title- “Colombo’s Last Case” would prevent me from watching, and I think I’ve seen all the Colombo shows. Besides, what if it sparks new interest? The franchise could be continued forever with Colombo’s grandson in the lead, and Peter Falk doing “Special Guest Appearances” as “Grandpa Colombo” as long as he can totter onstage and remember his lines:
(Colombo III: “I dunno, Grandpa, this one has me really stumped.” Grandpa Colombo: “Well you know, kiddo, that reminds me of the time I had this professor who murdered his lab assistant…” Colombo III: “Hey,ya know, Grandpa, that really helped me just then, I think I know just what to do…” dashes out of room, assistant following…
Assistant: “What did you suddenly realize to leave so sudden?” Colombo III: “I’ve hear about that one for the last twenty years. The guy’s wife was a suicidal drunk, the assistant was a golddigging bitch, they guy only did five years for manslaughter because the defense outmanuvered the DA; the guy teaches at a junior college in Mexico now, has a Mexican wife half his age and four kids. Happy as a clam, his wife drank herself to death after the divorce, nobody really cares about the dead assistant, even her own family. That’s justice, American style. And it has no bearing whatsoever on what we’re doing now.”

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