Michael Peña is letting the chips fall where they may…
Warner Bros. has set actor/comedian Dax Shepard to write, direct and star in the film adaptation of the long-running television series CHiPS, with the 38-year-old Mexican American actor attached to play Frank “Ponch” Poncherello.
CHiPS, whichran from 1977-83, centered on two officers who patrolled the highways of California on motorcycles in some scandalously tight khaki uniforms. Shepard will play Officer Jon Baker (played in the original by Larry Wilcox), with Peña starring in therole Erik Estrada originated. Rick Rosner created the NBC series.
This is the most serious Warner Bros. has been in turning CHiPS into a film. The studio attempted it years ago, after That ’70s Show star Wilmer Valderrama showed up in the office of executive Greg Silverman. Dressed in the signature tight-fitting uniform, Valderrama merely said, “Funny, right?” — and he walked out with a deal and an intention to play Ponch. But while television shows from that era like Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes Of Hazzard got movie transfers, CHiPS stalled out.
The new take is envisioned as much in the tone of Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon than a comedy. Shepard is known mostly in humorous roles and the series Parenthood. He’s actually a professional driver of racecars and motorcycles, and he expects to be performing his own riding and stunts.