THE RIDE OF HIS LIFE
Michael Peña thrilled to play Ponch, cruise around on motorcycle for ‘ CHIPS’ remake
Michael Peña had a chance to show off his hometown when he and his “CHIPS” co- star Dax Shepard came to Chicago to promote the film. Unfortunately, “I was a bad host,” said a sheepish Peña. “We really didn’t have much time …”
But Shepard came to his defense. “It wasn’t his fault,” said Shepard. “He had family duty while here. He was entertaining like 10 family members yesterday. So he’s excused.”
The funny part for Peña was how he had to deprive himself of some favorite Chicago treats. “I’m on like a crazy diet that allows me to eat 1,000 calories a day. It’s both for my role in [ upcoming film] ‘ Extinction’— and because my doctor recently strongly hinted that I needed to lose a little weight,” Peña said with a chuckle.
“So, if you can imagine, I did go to Giordano’s yesterday, and I had like half a skinless chicken breast! Everyone with me said, ‘ What are you doing!’ This is Giordano’s!’ ”
Riding a motorcycle as a California Highway Patrol officer came naturally for Shepard, known as a huge lover of all things automotive. As for the co- star taking over for Erik Estrada as Frank “Ponch” Poncherello in the big- screen take on the 1977- 83 TV show, Peña admitted, “To be honest, I didn’t really grow up with that kind of passion that Dax has. But it was something that did intrigue me. … I came to love watching motocross on TV when I was a kid, but where I grew up in Chicago, that seemed like a distant dream.
“I never, ever would have thought that not only would I be re- creating one of my favorite TV characters but that I’d get to have so much fun on a bike in a movie about those guys!”
The actor said that in recent years, he has come to own his own motorcycle, and “I really love to go up and back to my golf course from my house in L. A. … The way I go takes me up and down a pretty vacant highway. I can really open it up. It’s like a dream.”
As for Shepard, the opportunity to write a screenplay— and then star in and direct this R- rated, updated version of the vintage TV show— was long on his wish list.
“Listen. My all- time hero is [ writer and director] HalNeedham. All I ever wanted to dowas remake [ his] ‘ Hooper’ or ‘ Smokey and the Bandit.’ Making ‘ CHIPS’ is right up there for me. … All I’m ever trying to do is to find a vehicle that will include both action and comedy— with motor sports thrown into it.
“So, we’re running around Southern California, with two odd characters being paired. It made it perfect right out of the gate,” said Shepard.
An added plus for Shepard was getting to have some fun with his wife, actress Kristen Bell, who plays his unbearable ex- wife in “CHIPS.”
“It was fun to see her as a dirtbag. She’s not cast as a jerk very often. So it was up to me to do that,” he said, leading Peña to laugh very loudly.
Oswalt to tackle heartache in his two Chicago shows
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt has posted a very personal note, revealingmore information about his upcoming June 2 shows at the Athenaeum Theatre.
Writing on his Facebook page Sunday, Oswalt explained that at the 7 and 10 p. m. shows, he’ll share his feelings about “the most horrific 12months I’ve had to wade through inmy 48 years on the planet,” clearly referring to the death last April, at age 46, of his wife, crime writer Michelle McNamara— caused by a combination of prescription medicine and an artery blockage.
The concerts will be filmed for a Netflix special that “will probably air in the fall.”
Oswalt wrote that the deeply intense material he expects to discuss in his shows will mean, “I don’t think I’ll be able to just do [ it] again on the road for yuks and money.”
The end result: People at the two Chicago shows will be the “last LIVE audiences to see any of this material performed in person, ever. The special will be out in the fall, but, starting June 3 [ the day after his Chicago appearances], I’m going to disappear from any paid stages for a while. … I’ll start touring again in late 2018, but this new hour? And committing it to film? That’s going to take a LOT out of me.”
BJ the Chicago Kid penned title track for ‘ Shots Fired’
There’s quite the lineup of musical talent that will be heard as Fox’s new “Shots Fired” show debutsWednesday ( 7 p. m., WFLD- Channel 32). In a highprofile positioning, three- time Grammy nominee BJ the Chicago Kid is featured on the new series’ title track.
Along with the hometown R& B singer, other artists being showcased on “Shots Fired” are Swizz Beatz, Aloe Blacc, DaHonorable C- Note, Leon Bridges, Antonique Smith, NAS, AnthonyHamilton, MaliMusic, Sunshine Anderson, Ro James, Heather Victoria, Detail, Emeli Sande, E- 40, Scarface, Ruff Endz, Big BillMorganfield, Dionne Farris, Marqus Clae and Shire.
Starring Sanaa Lathan, Stephen James, HelenHunt and Richard Dreyfuss, “Shots Fired” will examine police shootings in racially charged environments.
Michael Peña ( left) and Dax Shepard star in “CHIPS.”