Friday, March 27, 2009

Knight Rider Festival: The stars, part 2

Though the Hoff couldn't make it to the first-ever Knight Rider Festival in Las Vegas last weekend, there was a Michael Knight in attendance. It was the new Michael Knight, Mr. Justin Bruening, a former soaps hunk who held quite the nice court as he signed the original screen-used KITT car also in attendance at the festival, above, on Vegas' glorious Fremont Street.

Catherine Hickland shares a laugh with a festival attendee while signing autographs at the event. She's joined here by seasoned stuntman Jack Gill, who also served as a stunt driver on our beloved "The Dukes of Hazzard." During the Q&A session that preceded this autograph time, Gill talked about his work on the '80s "Knight Rider."

“From my standpoint, the car came apart every time I hit the ground," Gill said. "You’ve got to figure, I’m dropping out of the air 30 feet. It was one piece, but the front end was bent up three feet, and I was kinda half-semi-unconscious inside of it, trying to get my bearings. I mean, they were all really hard landings, but I still wanted to do it every week, because we were always breaking new ground. The best part about the car was that, with the character you can say, let’s drop over two buildings, or jump between two buildings, or jump across Main Street. There are all kinds of things you can think up, that in a normal series, you have to try and find a way to make it relevant. In ‘Knight Rider,’ because the car could do anything, you could actually come up with anything you wanted.

"The only thing I can say, though, is that when we did go into super pursuit mode, I all of a sudden got like 19,000 switches inside this thing that I had to push on and push off. I’m saying which one is this, which one is that, and people are screaming at me on the radio. Things are popping out on the hood and popping up in the back. It made things a little more difficult, but it did make the series a lot more interesting because it gave it a different look.”

As April the mechanic in the show's second season, Rebecca Holden had the task of keeping KITT in great working condition while Michael Knight was out and about making a difference. “I had done a lot of shows for Universal and for NBC," Holden said, "and so when they called me about doing this show as April, I was thrilled and delighted, because it was such a hit show, and David Hasselhoff, as you all know, is such a fantastic guy, along with Edward Mulhare.

"It was such a wonderful cast to become a part of. There was such a camaraderie between everyone. Although we didn’t see Bill Daniels a lot, ‘cause he had the cushiest job in television, I think. He came in about a half an hour each week just to do all the lines for KITT. He was a wonderful guy. I think he made KITT come alive, and had the personality that he did, that we were able to react off of. We actually on the set, just had a script girl reading his lines, but we could just imagine his voice and what he would do with the character. So we had a lot of fun. It was a great, great feeling of bonding between that group.

"But I have to tell you, it was such a pleasure to play the role of April. She was a smart, and in a time of television when there was a lot of 'T&A,' she was smart, she was intelligent, she had integrity. She invented a lot of the things for KITT to do, to assist Michael and Edward in their fight for truth, justice and the American way. So she was a great role model for girls, and I still hear that a lot from fans that write in. What has been so nice to me is that we’ve kept this friendship with the fans for so many years. Even on my website, I get letters from all over the world. Yesterday it was Croatia. And last night it was so much fun meeting so many of you. Some of you are from Hungary, and Germany, and England, and Brazil, and all over the world. But you’ve taken this show into your hearts and embraced it. It has meant something to all of you. It’s just so gratifying and heartwarming to us, and I can’t thank you enough. Because you really are the ones that are responsible for making this show the success it became.”

Michael Scheffe, who has an impressive resume in visual effects in the acting industry, designed the KITT car for the original "Knight Rider" show. Here, he signs the dashboard brought cross-country from Detroit by BRB's buds. That dashboard, complete with working KITT lights, sure got a whole lot more valuable last weekend!

It was a fun time, all in all, and the BRBTV News Blog rounds out this week's coverage of the event with the note from the festival site ... "we will see you in 2010!"

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
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