The following article was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal's TV Week, the week Knight Rider 2000 premired on NBC.
Hasselhoff, KITT roaring back on screen
'Knight Rider' star lobbied for TV Movie
By Jay Bobbin
Tribune Media Services
Many critics bashed them, but that didn't harm their popularity... so David Hasselhoff
and the smartest car on Earth are "Knight"-riding again.
Sunday's new NBC movie
"Knight Rider 2000" revisits territory already familiar to fans of the 1982-86 adventure
show, but with a few new twists.
As the title implies, the saga now takes a futuristic
slant by resuming 14 years after the end of the original program -- which continues to
perfrom well in syndicated repeats in many markets -- as the since retired Michael Knight (Hasselhoff) is called back to
duty by his ex-boss Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare, also reprising his role) to infiltrate and destroy a ring of black-market
weapon suppliers operating in an era when handguns have been outlawed.
To assist him in the mission, he is given an updated
version of the intelligent talking automobile know as KITT (with "St. Elsewhere" Emmy winner William Daniles again providing
the voice_. He also gets another new partner, a former policewoman named Shawn (played by Susan Norman, of last fall's
short-lived "Parenthood" series) who happens to have one of KITT's microchips implanted in her brain, necessitated by
emergency surgery after she was critically wounded on her previous job.
Since the supposed end of "Knight Rider," the
charismatic Hasselhoff returned to weekly work in the lifeguard drama "Baywatch" (in which he will resurface this fall, with
new episodes in first-run syndication), and he also has established himself as a major singing star overseas.
Indeed he reflects, "I had been out traveling thr world, pursuing music and other things, and I saw that 'Knight Rider' was
still incredibly popular. The biggest questions I usually was asked were, 'Why are you so tall?' and 'Why aren't there more
episodes of that show?' I kept coming back and telling my managers and agents we really ought to do some more, and they
would but calls into the powers that be, who would say there was no interest.
"I never let it die, though, and I finally ran into (exiting NBC executive) Brandon Tartikoff at the mall. I told him that
I had Universal (the studio behind the show) on the rops, and that I thought the timing was really good to bring 'Knight
Rider' back as a TV nove. His wife turned to him and said, 'Oh Brandon, that's a great idea!' Then he turned to me and
said 'That's a great idea!'
The phone rang three or four days later, and Universal said 'Let's do it.'"
That sequence of events occurred a year ago, virtually simultaneous with NBC's cancellation of "Baywatch," but the "Knight
Rider" revival almost collapsed as quickly as it was approved.
"They hired a writer who wrote a script," Hasselhoff recalls, "and we were about 10 days away from starting production, then
they suddenly threw away the script and the whole thing died. I went off to Europe for a big (music) tour and had a baby
girl, and I never thought about (the movie), because I was more interested in being a father.
"Well, after she got on her feet, I started thinking about 'Knight Rider' again."
As it turned out, Universal already had another script in development, but Hasselhoff's participation meant having to
abandon his original hope of producing the project as well as starring in it.
"That kind of broke my heart," he concedes, "but as long as it got done, that was the most important thing."
Still, the new venture reflects the actor's desire to update the concept in a "more adult" manner, since he says Michael
"is basically burned out on saving the world, and he wants to save himself.
"It's sort of nebulous as to why he left the Knight Foundation, but he finds all that is left of the original KITT (which
was a sleek black Trans Am) is the voice box, so he puts it in his '57 Chevy. That's kind of cute, but eventually, it's
put into the body of a Stealth that becomes the new 'Knight Rider' car.
"It's very high-tech and science-fiction-oriented, but I knew I had to play Michael the same way, including the banter
that goes on between him and KITT."
Knight also looks the same, despite the advance in his age, calendar-wise, but Hasselhoff attributes that to the extensive
plastic surgery to the character underwent in the pilot episode nine years ago.
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