By Gina Serpe Tue Mar 14, 4:18 PM ET
Bring out the Welcome wagon.
Ice Cube has signed on to play the title role in a film adaptation of the classic 1970s TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, it was announced Tuesday.
As part of his deal with Dimension Films, Cube will also coproduce the redo of the former ABC series that turned
John Travolta into a household name.
"There was no bigger fan of the original show than me, and I'm very excited to be able to put a new twist on it," the Barbershop star said in a statement.
Cube will play the titular Gabe Kotter, a slacker turned teacher who returns to his inner-city alma mater and who sees himself in the new batch of underprivileged troublemakers. He works to inspire the seemingly apathetic students, known as the Sweathogs.
The gang of kids is led by scatterbrained himbo Vinnie Barbarino, played in the original incarnation by Travolta. The original 'hogs also included the super suave Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington (originally played by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), the tough-talking Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein (
Robert Hegyes), and nasally nerd Arnold Dingfelder Horshack (
Ron Palillo) and were responsible for injecting retorts like "up your nose with a rubber hose" into the cultural vernacular.
Gabe Kaplan, who played Kotter in the original 1975-79 series, also created the show with partner Alan Sacks and retained the rights. He said that despite heavy interest from studios over the years, they held out on adapting Kotter until the right pitch came along.
"We were skeptical about selling Kotter because making a great movie from a TV show can be challenging," Kaplan said. "After meeting with the Weinsteins [Harvey and Bob Weinstein run Dimension], we knew they were the right ones to bring this project to the screen."
No word on whether any of the original stars will make cameos in the film, though if the recent influx of box office remakes are any indication, it's highly likely that some of the old gang will pay their respects. Likewise, we assume that Cube will give a hip-hop spin to the classic "Welcome Back" theme song, originally crooned by
The Hot Chick's Tom Brady has signed on to write and direct Kotter.
Production is expected to kick off this fall, after filming is complete on Cube's next project, Are We Done Yet?, a sequel to last year's surprise hit Are We There Yet?, which happens to be another remake--this time based loosely on the Cary Grant film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse. Cameras roll on that film in Vancouver this June.