Knight Rider is Back!


It was my first introduction to Hasselhoff – yes, the David Hasselhoff. I sat down in my living room at 5 years old and watched “Knight Rider.” Now, I have to tell you, I didn’t understand a single thing about the show, other than there was a really kick-ass car that talked. Oh, and David Hasselhoff was the star.

Fast forward 25 years and we’ve got a brand new KITT car and a brand new television series on NBC. “Knight Rider” is back, and on February 17, 2008 the new series will kick-off with a 2-hour movie event.

Today, we got the first look at the three KITT cars they’ll be using for the flick (and hopefully series one day if the writers strike doesn’t continue – sorry, different topic.) In the original series, it was the T-Top Pontiac Trans Am. In 2007, it’s an updated Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR. And not only that, there’s three different cars playing the part.

Today, at the NBC Studios in Burbank — between the studio for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Access Hollywood” — the new cars were unveiled with a pseudo demonstration with one of the stunt cars. They even gave KITT his own parking spot next to Jay Leno – I guess he won’t be using that for a while.

The first car shown was a remote car – no driver! Some really cool stuff! There are two people who control it by a remote control; the thing just moves on its own, opens the doors on its own, drives from side to side. See, as a kid, you always wonder about how the car drove by itself – now I know.

Anyway, the other two cars aren’t by remote; they’re real cars, including the stunt car. The last car had the cast of the movie there – Justin Bruening (Mike Traceur), Deanna Russo (Sarah Graiman), Bruce Davison (Charles Graiman), and Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Carrie Ruvai).

This “Knight Rider” is a sequel to the original series, which Justin says is definitely a plus for the storyline. “Being a fan of the show, I was very excited about; I didn’t want them to mess with [it] – you don’t mess with ‘the original’ anything, it’s never really as good. I love the fact that it just continues the story, and there’s a huge gap, so within this show, we can go backwards, forwards. We can do anything because there are huge gaps in there to fill in.”

Justin’s character of Mike Traceur is the son of Michael Knight, but “I clearly don’t know that right away,” he says. “He’s the reluctant hero, an ex-Army Ranger that obviously in the end becomes a hero even though he doesn’t want to be. With the writers strike, I haven’t gotten a new episode so I don’t know if he likes being a hero, but whatever, we’ll find out.”

Deanna plays the daughter of Charles Graiman, the inventor of KITT. She told about the bonding time she had getting to know how the real KITT moves. “We were doing some pretty crazy stunts up in Newhall on this crazy, windy mountain road; it was pretty exciting. I was actually in the passenger seat, and nobody was behind the wheel. They have this amazing rig, a stunt driver locked down to the top of the car on the roof. He’s a very talented because at no point did I feel that my life was in danger. Well, ok, I gotta say, I’ll be honest with you, the very, very first time I rode in KITT as a passenger, even though I was in the driver’s seat, I wasn’t in control of the car, it was a little scary. It kind of felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but real. After that first exciting thing, now it just feels like a roller coaster; it’s a really cool job. I’m so glad you guys got to check out some of these things because we’ve been really excited to share it and talk about it.”

It was Sydney who just put it bluntly of how awesome this show is really going to be. “It’s cool, I think it’s a real true kind of staying true to the original idea of the show. There’s just cooler stuff we can do, and it’s even more kind of weirdly relevant today, because it’s actually believable that you can have a car that talks and does all this stuff and that it actually happens. The car itself is super cool and you guys saw the attack mode version, when it came in and popped those crazy 360s or whatever. Just the car itself is really the coolest thing I’ve seen so far. Certainly there’s going to be some interesting stuff that the car does in the movie. And now I think it’s even more, for the kids that didn’t grow up in the ’80s and didn’t see [the original] ‘Knight Rider,’ I think it’s something they can totally identify with and it’s not so foreign.”

The Hoff makes a small cameo in this movie to pass the torch to Justin. It was a surreal experience for him getting on set and seeing the real Michael Knight. “It’s definitely one of the highlights of my life, something I can tell my grandkids. It’s a lot to process all at once I have to say. It still hasn’t sunk that – I don’t even tell people what I do because it sounds ridiculous. When I told my friends when I found out, I didn’t tell them. They would call and say, ‘What have you been up to? You been filming anything?’ ‘Yeah, I got a job. I’m Knight Rider!?’ (in a questioning manner). I don’t know any other way to say it than that. And obviously, they’re all really excited ’cause we watched it growing up.”

The question you’re all wondering – who is voicing KITT? The answer: Will Arnett! Sorry all you William Daniels fans out there, he’s not back.

But with Will Arnett as the voice, you know there’s going to be some of that good humor thrown in. “We all joke around on set with funny things that KITT might say,” noted Deanna. “Will Arnett is a brand-new addition to the show, and we’re so excited to have him on board. When I first heard talks of him being on it, I was just clamoring with joy. I’m a huge fan of ‘Arrested Development’! His voice alone is very memorable, so I think he’s a perfect fit for KITT. I’m just really excited to hear what he does with it; there are so many choice one could make.”

One thing’s for sure, “Knight Rider” is back and better than ever! Stay tuned for more from the cast of the NBC movie when it premieres February 17th.