Larry Wilcox (left) and Erik Estrada starred in the TV series “CHiPs.”
Buckle up: Ponch and Jon are headed to the big screen in a movie version of the long-gone motorcycle cop TV series “CHiPs.”
Chicago native Michael Pena reportedly willplay the Ponch portion of the equation, according to Deadline.com. The website said Warner Bros has hired “Parenthood” star Dax Shepard to write, direct and star in the film as California Highway Patrol (CHiP) officer Jon Baker.
The TV incarnation aired from 1977 to 1983 and starred Erik Estrada as Ponch and Larry Wilcox as Jon. Dressed in form-fitting khaki cop uniforms, they cruised up and down the Golden State’s expressways on theirbikes, keeping the peace, lending a helping hand and getting into some cool car chases.
Deadline noted that the studio tried to turn “CHiPs” into a movie years ago but the project stalled. “The new take is envisioned as much in the tone of ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’ than a comedy,” the story says.
This isn’t the first time Pena has played a California cop. He starred with Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2012 film “End of Watch,” where theyportrayed a couple ofLAPD officers who confiscate money and firearms from a cartel during a routine traffic stop, resulting in a mob hit being put out on them.
During an interview this summer at the TV critics’ press tour in Beverly Hills, California, the Mexican-American actorrecalled having run-ins with Chicago copswhile growing up in a gang-infested area ofNorth Lawndale. “I was mischievous, but I didn’t go to jail for something I didn’t do,” Pena said, adding that he and his Hispanic friends were often questioned by police for things they had no part in.
As Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, Pena will be the one asking the questions; he”s one of the good guys. His status in another upcoming project is far more ambiguous: He plays the cagey father of a murdered boy in Fox’s fall drama, “Gracepoint,” debuting Oct. 2 on WFLD-Channel 32.
Like “CHiPs,” “Gracepoint” isa remake, too. It’s the U.S. adaptation of the beloved British whodunnit, “Broadchurch.”