EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has set Dax Shepard to write, direct and star in a screen version of CHiPS, that TV series that ran from 1977-83 and featured two officers who patrolled the highways of California armed with motorcycles and the tightest khaki cop uniforms in television history. Shepard will play Officer Jon Baker (played in the original by Larry Wilcox), while Michael Pena is attached to play Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, the role 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 tried it years ago, after That ’70s Show star Wilmer Valderrama showed up in the office of exec Greg Silverman (who’s now running production at the studio). 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. Apparently it wasn’t funny enough because while TV shows from that era such as Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes Of Hazzard got movie transfers, CHiPS stalled. 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 race cars and motorcycles, and he expects to be performing his own riding and stunts.
Andrew Panay is producing, along with Shepard’s Primate Pictures. Rosner will be exec producer, and Warner Bros execs Jesse Ehrman and Nik Mavinkurve will oversee for the studio. Shepard most recently directed and wrote the indie comedy Hit & Run, which he starred in with Kristen Bell. CHiPS will be the first one for a studio.