It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? In fact, it seems almost shocking that it hasn’t already happened. In an exclusive from Deadline that should surprise no one, while simultaneously inducing forehead slaps and screams of excitement in equal measures, Warner Bros. has announced that it has set actor-comedian Dax Shepard to write, direct – and yes – star, in a movie version of the hit 1970s TV show CHiPs. Shepard will play Officer Jon Baker while his partner, Frank “Ponch” Poncherello will be played by Michael Peña.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time the studio has attempted to turn the beloved show about two California Highway Patrol officers into a movie. More than a decade ago, when similar shows from that era – like Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard – were being turned into movies, Warner Bros. gave the green light to a feature version of CHiPs that would have starred Wilmer Valderrama (TV’s That ’70s Show) as Ponch. While that version never got off the ground, it looks like Warner Bros. is moving ahead in earnest on this new version.
Shepard got his first break in 2003 appearing alongside Ashton Kutcher in the hit MTV show Punk’d. Over the following years he landed a series of roles in comedies like Without a Paddle, Employee of the Month, and Idiocracy. He then went behind the camera to direct 2010’s mockumentary Brother’s Justice, which won an Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival. Most recently he wrote and directed the low-budget action-comedy Hit and Run, co-starring with his real-life spouse Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). He also has a role in the upcoming Robert Downey Jr. film The Judge.
Shepard has said that he plans to make his adaptation an equal mix of comedy and action, along the lines of the Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys franchises.
With this in mind, he may have picked the perfect Ponch in his casting of Peña, who has turned in strong performances while playing it straight in movies like World Trade Center, Lions For Lambs, and Gangster Squad, whilealso showing his comedic chops on a number of occasions. He played a possibly insane security guard alongside Seth Rogen in Observe and Report, a not-as-tough-as-he-seems gangster in the goofy 30 Minutes or Less, and perhaps best of all, as a sweeter-than-sugar Mexican millionaire in HBO’s bawdy series Eastbound & Down.
There is currently no additional information available on CHiPs, but we’ll continue to keep you updated.