TV star Erik Estrada to host new renovation series shooting in Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Erik Estrada skyrocketed to fame on board a motorcycle emblazoned with the logo of the California Highway Patrol. The television series CHiPs ran for six seasons (1977-83) on NBC, and made Estrada a household name playing Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. Estrada’s acting career now spans nearly five decades, and his newest project called Divine Renovation will shoot in and around Wilmington later this year.
The premise behind Divine Renovation adds a spiritual element to the familiar genre of home renovation/restoration shows. Monty Hobbs, the creator and one of the series’ producers, is a Wilmington native and veteran of local TV and film projects. He is part of the production company called Heartlight Entertainment, along with Valerie Smaldone and Matthieu Chazareix, that is producing Divine Renovation.
“We wanted to come in and look at the small things that we all take for granted, for his instance, an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) commode,” Hobbs said about the effort. “Some people would take that for granted. We found people that really need help, and what we did with the spiritual element is, we reached out the local churches and we said, ‘Hey, guys, we’re not asking you to redo this whole home. We’re asking, would you come out and help celebrate this? Help take care of the small issues, and at the same time, maybe bring a cake, maybe bring some lemonade, maybe bring a pie just to show that there is support?’ Because our goal is, when we leave, we’re only there for one or two days, that church and that community is there forever.”
Hobbs said the team behind Divine Renovation worked with local non-profit organizations to identify individuals in southeastern North Carolina in need of assistance. Those groups included Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Welcome Home Angel, Family Promise and Coastal Buds.
“They helped inform us of people they had on their list that really needed something,” Hobbs said. “We really zeroed in on five people who we feel that we could not only help in a short amount of time, but when we leave, there’s still resources (to assist them).”
Hobbs said he has stayed in contact with Estrada since the two worked together on a project several years ago in New Jersey. The Harlem, New York native has stayed busy since CHiPs, appearing in films, television shows and doing character voiceovers. Hobbs says the veteran actor jumped at the chance to host the faith-based Divine Renovation series.
“As (Erik) is getting up there later in life, he’s like most of us, he wants to do something meaningful,” Hobbs said. “When I told him the premise of the show, that there was a lot of heart, there was more heart than there was motive in this show, he said this is something that he really wants to gravitate towards. It wasn’t even a question of budget concerns. It wasn’t even a question of timing. He said, ‘Monty if you need me, I’m there!’ That right there let me know that we’re onto something good.”
The schedule calls for Estrada and crew members to shoot in the Wilmington area in late September and early October, then go into post-production for an air date in early 2023.
“Our goal is to have it ready in January, around the 15th,” Hobbs said. “You’ll probably see this on The Dove (television network), you’ll probably see this on every paid platform also. Right now, we do have two networks that, it will kind of be up for bid. Our goal is for a Season 2 that’s even bigger than this one.”
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