Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox Land in Planet Hollywood
Road Report by Ron Albanese (aka “Grossie”)
“CHiPs” Online correspondant
The restaurant was crowded–inside and outside. Diners, “CHiPs” fans, and press people were all milling about, craning their necks in attempts to get a good view onto 57th Street. Word had leaked out (I don’t know how, what with posters and a capable publicity person present) that Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox would shortly be riding into town (or at least about 5,000 feet) and stopping in at Planet Hollywood to promote the “CHiPs ’99” reunion movie.
After the two actors posed on their bikes for the dozen or so reporters, photographers, and lucky attendees armed with instamatics, Erik looks to his fellow “officer” and says, “Okay, let’s go eat,” and the two go inside — in unison!
After being shimmied into a private room, the two soon come onto the main restaurant floor and pretty much look as though they exited a time machine. Both are convivial and do their best to talk up their cause, laugh at special guest emcee Danny Bonaduce, and accommodate fans.
I have always admired “CHiPs” from afar; during it’s initial network run I may have preferred more “mature” works such as The Dukes of Hazard, but when channel surfing (which was much harder with a cord) I always would give pause to the men in khaki whenever they graced my Magnavox’s screen.
But back to the future’s past… When Erik Estrada offered a sample of his upcoming chips (the food kind), a melee resulted overrunning Ponch and Jon with a ton of fans and press. After it cleared, the two were as calm and approachable as could be. Just for the record, Erik was definitely the star of the show.
The publicity person accosted me and asked if I had wanted to speak with Erik. Uh oh. I didn’t intend to and had assumed that I would go to the event, take a couple of shots, pause while smiling as credits rolled over my face, then head home. But, being an opportunist, I said, “Sure.” What follows are the results of an on-the-spot interview with Erik Estrada by someone who only became a serious fan of “CHiPs” last March, and can’t even pronounce the name of the soap opera he was in.
Ron: So tell me, the old adage about never forgetting to ride bikes, does it apply to motorcycles?
Erik (While signing ten autographs a minute): Yeah. You never forget.
Ron: How many stunts did you do yourself for “CHiPs ’99”?
Erik: In this one, I get to do a wheelie on my own. Hang from a helicopter…
Ron: So, small things?
Erik: Easy stuff. The real stuff we leave to the big guys. If I were to get hurt, or if Larry were to get hurt, it would cause problems with production.
Ron: Was this the first time you have seen some of the original cast in fifteen years?
Erik: Larry and I always stayed in touch. Robert Pine I see at the gym. We all live in the same town. Brodie, Paul Linke
[Writer’s note: little did he know that “Grossie” is my nickname…]
Ron: If there is a new series, will you be a part of it?
Erik: I don’t think it will become a new series, on account of the fact that it’s very difficult show to do, a very expensive show to do. And, we’re out of freeways! I think a series of movies would be better.
Ron: Did you ever imagine that “CHiPs” would endure?
Erik: I never thought about it. I was just happy to have a steady job.
Ron: One more question… Did you actually like season six?
Erik: Yes. It was all right. It was good.
So there you have it. As you can probably tell, I was fumbling for questions. Afterward, I couldn’t believe I forgot to talk about “Mitchell and Woods”, and Rudy Vallee, etc. with Ponch! Oh well….
Thanks to Ron Albanese for providing the report and pictures.
Pictures and text ©1998, Ron Albanese