Michael Peña to Play Erik Estrada’s Role in Movie Version of ‘CHiPs’

Read more

It seems after all these years the California Highway Patrol hasn’t lost its glamour. Indeed, since Erik Estrada disco danced his way into America’s heart as the dubiously named Chicano patrol officer, Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, in CHiPs, the CHP has been the gold standard in hipness for police departments across the nation. Now that it’s been nearly 40 years since the show originally aired, Hollywood has decided to give another generation the chance to live the explosions, epic fights, jet skiing, and sky diving that make up just another day on the beat of the CHP (We’d prefer they just show re-runs but, whatever.)

The folks at Warner Brothers have identified this burning social need and recently announced plans to turn the decade-defining series into a feature film. (Dear Hollywood, please stop ruining TV shows and movies from my childhood! Thanks.) This isn’t even the first time a big studio has tried to make movie-magic out of creator Rick Rosner’s police procedural: there was a 2005 production announced with Wilmer Valderrama attached in the role of Ponch (it’s appropriate because he was on That 70s Show — get it?) that didn’t pan out, and a 1999 made-for-TV movie that no one actually saw. But it looks like this time, it might really happen.

Featuring up-and-coming Chicano phenom Michael Peña as Ponch alongside The Parenthood’s multifaceted Dax Shepard (a.k.a. the guy from Punk’d) , who will be writing, directing and starring as Ponch’s partner, Jon Baker, the CHiPs movie is sure to be… well, like the series I guess. But shorter.

Now, whether Warner Brothers is banking on a Generation X nostalgia trip to feed the box office, or if they’re trying to make tight highway patrol uniforms and teased out hair cool for a generation of distracted millennials is yet to be seen. However it turns out, let’s just hope the talented Mr. Peña doesn’t start modeling his career off of Erik Estrada… More on that later.

[insert-video youtube=Z6qNs4GIs94]