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Hollywood has been threatening a movie based on the cops television series CHiPs for nearly a full decade, but only now does the project seem like it actually has some real direction. Dax Shepard, the actor best known for playing Frito in Mike Judge's Idiocracy, has been hired by Warner Bros. to not only write and direct a feature version of the late-'70s/early-'80s series, but also star. He will be playing Officer Jon Baker in the film, a role originated by Larry Wilcox, but the film has already found its new Ponch as well:
The comedy/drama double threat Michael Pena has signed on for the part that introduced the world to Erik Estrada. Pena has been pretty damn busy of late, not only starring in movies like Cesar Chavez, Amercan Hustle and the upcoming Fury, but also working on the television series Gracepoint. Along with Shepard's Officer Baker, he will patrol California highways on motorcycle while wearing tight khaki uniforms. Their main motivation will be to hit on attractive women, while also stopping car insurance scams and the like. Deadline says that the tone of the project will be "semi-serious" and take cues from titles like Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this news and Pena's casting in particular is who the future Ant-Man star is taking the role of Ponch away from. That '70's Show actor Wilmer Valderrama first became attached to play Ponch in a CHiPs movie back in 2004, when classic shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard were getting the big screen treatment. Deadline notes that Valderrama showed up in executive Greg Silverman's office in costume, said "Funny, right?" and got the job. Years passed, and while Chris Evans was rumored for the role of Baker, the movie never got made. Now that things are looking up for the property again, we can assume that the reason why Valderrama is not back is because he's still known as "That '70's Show actor."
Shepard got his first taste of directing when he co-helmed the 2010 comedy Brother's Justice with David Palmer, and the two filmmakers teamed up again in 2012 for the feature Hit and Run (which co-starred Shepard's wife, Kristen Bell). Part of what the actor cum director brings to CHiPS is that he is a professional race car and motorcycle driver, which means that he can help orchestrate and perform some of his own stunts for the film.
Do you like this set up for a CHiPS movie? Tell us what you think in the comments below.