The world shifts in contorted, fidgety anticipation of the upcoming big screen adaptation of CHiPs, with the Venezuelan crown prince of messy starlet arm candy, Wilmer Valderrama, in the pivotal role of Francis "Ponch" Poncherello. But if all you see staring back out of those deep, brown eyes is the smug face of a lucky kid who managed to spin a throwaway sitcom part into the quintessential scene-whore Hollywood power trip, think again. Valderrama realizes it's all about the work:
He says he expects the Highway Patrol cop story to be something so explosive that it will propel him to above-the-title status for good. "It's one of those things where [I'm like], 'OK, this is a different time now,' " said the actor, who will play Ponch and start shooting in the spring. "For me the challenge is ... how does a sidekick for eight years on a sitcom go from that to a leading man?"
We'll refrain from offering the easy answer (Everyone together now: "He doesn't!" Feel better?) and instead focus on the fact that while Valderrama may be ready for his leap to the big screen, audiences very well may not be, especially when they realize they are in for a straight up, 100-minute, darkened-theater dose of giant Valderrama, minus the trusty Wilmer-filtering devices of remote controls and regular commercial breaks.