David Hasselhoff Panel at Birmingham Memorabilia

Star of Knight Rider and Baywatch, David Hasselhoff was at the NEC in Birmingham for Memorabilia. A tour de force of energy, he was happy to talk and pose for pictures with the fans and managed to make a largely quiet crowd laugh and cheer during the panel. “I’m having a blast actually talking to the fans,” he said. After grilling host Stuart Claw with an assortment of questions (“Did Baywatch influence you a little on a sexual level?”), instead of sitting down on the stage he choose to mingle with the attendees.

During the panel he talked about the development of the Knight Rider movie, staring in pantomime, his musical inspirations and the M4 motorway.

“Okay guys, got any questions for me?” he said while standing in the middle amongst the attendees, one of whom took a quick picture, promoting David to say, “That’ll be £25! Okay, take another one!”

“Woah, there’s more people back here,” he said, noticing a big crowd standing just outside the main stage. “Hello folks! How are you? Everything okay?”

“We just flew in from Buenos Aires for you guys,” said The Hoff. “27 hours it took us… and the last three hours were on the M4! What the hell is that? You need more lanes! I’m serious! The cars go really fast and then they stop… for like no reason. It took us four hours from London yesterday, but it’s worth it.” 

“It’s actually a fantastic convention,” said David of Memorabilia. “I just saw Caroline Munro from Starcrash – the worst movie ever made!” He then added, “Actually the worst movie ever made was made by me, called Piranha 3DD. It’s a good movie though!”

The first question from the audience had David being asked what he thought of Howard Stern taking over on America’s Got Talent? “I’ve met Howard Stern several times and he’s really funny,” said David. “He’s kinda like Keith Lemon – Leigh Francis – a very kind, cool gentleman, with a lovely wife, and same as Howard Stern when you meet him off camera. He’s really a whole different guy. But you get him on the radio and – woo hoo – he just goes for it! I like guys who go for it because it’s a part of entertainment. It’s not the shock or anything, it’s just to entertain.” He also spoke of his time doing Britain’s Got Talent saying, “I loved doing Britain’s Got Talent… though I didn’t understand a word you guys said! Especially in Scotland! You guys don’t even understand each other!”

When asked what was happening with the rumoured Knight Rider film, David said, “Knight Rider is in development with The Weinstein Company. So it’s in the hands of them and they’ll probably muck it up, unless I get involved! To be perfectly honest, I’m twisting them to try and make it into something that is retro to the past but still cool with the future.” He also mentioned that a Baywatch movie is in development with director Ivan Reitman.

He then revealed what happened with the new Knight Rider TV series. “I was the one who brought the new Knight Rider to NBC and they said, ‘We love it, it’s a great show! But you’re not going to be in it and we’re going to change the KITT car’s voice,’ which was a mistake, because there’s so many people around the world that love Knight Rider and if it’s not broke you don’t fix it.”

He went on to talk about the popularity of the original Knight Rider TV series, saying, “The thing with Knight Rider was that one man could make a difference. Life for me is kind of what you make it, and you could make a difference. Knight Rider made a difference in many, many, many lives, all over the world. People come up [to me] and say the same story. ‘I watch it with my dad,’ or ‘I watched it in Iran on satellite,’ or ‘I watched it in East Germany when the Berlin Wall was up – we used trash can tops.’ They would use trash can tops so satellite signals could come in. The show was about saving lives. KITT was programmed never to take a life. How cool is that? It’s ridiculous what’s on television right now; it’s all about death, destruction and who killed who.”

He was then asked about how it feels knowing that the franchises he’s been involved in are still relevant today. “I just feel honoured and blessed,” said David. “The shows are about being positive. I’ve been negative in my life and all it does is get you in trouble. It attracts stuff to you that’s not cool. I love to do shows that make people happy.” He then recounted what happened when he asked a little girl why she liked Baywatch. “She said ‘I like it because the girls are really good looking, the guys are good looking, there’s a lot of action and there’s the sun and there’s danger, but then it turns out okay.’ I said, ‘There’s a perfect answer.’ That’s what life should be about; life should be about an adventure. You gotta go for it, you gotta take chances.”

Asked on how he got the part on Knight Rider, The Hoff told the story of how he was noticed during a convention in Las Vegas. “I was on a soap opera, The Young and the Restless, and Brandon Tartikoff, who was the new head of programming on NBC, he saw all these old ladies leave their slot machines and come over to me. He said, ‘If that man can bring old ladies away from slot machines then he’s going to be popular.’ So he tested me for Knight Rider. I went in and blew the audition, I was completely nervous. They said, ‘You were really good, but we want to test you again.’ The nerves took over, so the next day I read a book called The Power of Your Subconscious mind. I still have it! It’s an amazing book. It’s about programming yourself, believing in yourself and imaging what you want. So I imagined that I was the Knight Rider! I put on my [answerphone], ‘Hi, it’s Michael Knight. Sorry I can’t come to the phone, I’m out with my car KITT.’ And that was before the show. I had everyone call me Michael Knight for two weeks. I went in and auditioned; I was very nervous again, I said ‘I need five minutes’, I walked outside, gave myself a pep talk, I went in and said, ‘I am the Knight Rider.’ They rolled the cameras and I got it. It became a show that we’re still talking about 30 years later.”

He went on to promote the family pantomime Peter Pan at the Opera House in Manchester, in which he plays Hoff the Hook. “We did it in Bristol last year and broke the 100 year attendance record. It’s a good show, it’s fantastic for the kids, the effects are amazing and I sing Jump in My Car. I sing Hooked on a Feeling, Looking for Some Hoff Stuff. It’s pretty funny! Tam Ryan is my co-star. He’s a local comic from Manchester. I’ll be there from December 9th to January 13th.

He then revealed that from January next year he will be going on tour with his show, An Evening With David Hasselhoff. “It involves me singing stuff that I’ve done on Broadway and the West End. I’m going on tour in Australia, Germany and Switzerland. I’m actually developing a musical for the West End, based on my life. How weird is that?”

David was finally asked what inspires him musically? “All music inspires me,” he said. “I love everything. My daughters are into techno pop and they turn me on to David Guetta and DJ Afrojack. I thought, ‘This is the craziest music ever, I love it.’ But I love Broadway, I love Tony Bennett. My favourite singer in the world was a dear friend who passed away, Sammy Davis Jr., who was kind of my mentor and I just loved the stuff that he did.”

Before making his way back to signing he left with an air of optimism. “I go where the opportunity comes. We make the best of every situation. 27 hours to get here, but you know… Red Bull’s a good thing!”

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