Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Knight Rider Companion by Nick Nugent

Nick Nugent. The Knight Rider Companion. Los Angeles: Will Garris Publishing, 2008.

“Knight Rider” was created by Glen Larson, who had it is disputed had one remaining project for Universal after Universal allowed Larson to develop shows at 20th Century Fox. He created “Knight Rider” for Universal. The show featured a talking robotic car.

“Knight Rider” faced challenges. It’s Executive Producer had a heart attack and died while working. A new Executive Producer, Robert Foster, admits he wasn’t thrilled with the project and had to be asked three times before agreeing to take the position only through the first season. Working on the show made Foster desire to continue working n it. Ratings improved and the show lasted four years.

Tom Greene, a writer for the show, learned that Foster was very involved with the show. Foster provided him with 27 pages of notes to his first story idea. Greene notes the NBC TV network made more notes on “Knight Rider” than on any other show of which Greene is aware.

Among the NBC memos was concern that the male character and the car’s relationship had homosexual undertones. The bond between the driver and the care was key to the show’s success, according to Greene. He found it amusing that worried executives read more into that bond. In reply, the writers did write in some subtle gay references.

David Hasselhoff, the lead actor, felt so good about his audition that he was convinced he would get the role of Michael Knight. He immersed himself in the role.

William Daniels, the car’s voice, recorded his lines in a recording studio separately from the rest of the cast. He only saw David Hasselhoff at the Christmas parties. He did not take credit for the role because he wanted the car to have its own identity without a human attached to it. He also didn’t want people to connect his voice to his work on another TV series he was doing “St. Elsewhere”.

Robert Foster did not like the acting of Patricia McPherson. She claims Foster wanted his girlfriend in the role and then another actress. She was not asked back for the second season. Strong fan support brought her back in season three.

McPherson was replaced by Rebecca Holden as the car mechanic. She wanted to remain on the show yet she followed management’s advice to do other work and left at the end of the second season.

The show initially had three cars, one hero car and two stunt cars. The use of the cars was limited due to fear of ruining one. Eventually, Pontiac sold damaged cars to the show. The show had 18 cars. Polyurethane shells were placed over car frames to reduce denting. A driver viewing was drilled through the grills so it could be driven with the appearance of there being no driver. A $10,000 ramp allowed pushing air to increase the jump of a car while turbo boosting. A car was thus able to jump 140 feet at times where other car jumps were 90 feet or less.

Jack Gill, who did stunts, created a special harness with bungee cords that allowed him to make jumps while the cords prevent back injuries. Back injuries happened to other stunt people making similar jumps. Jack Gill has a titanium plate in his neck from all the whiplash from spine compressions from all his jumps.

12 cars were ruined by flooding when parking in a garage three floors before the street.

An underwater motorized platform allowed the appearance of a car floating on water.

Title music on TV shows usually lasts 30 seconds to one minute. The idea is that hearing the familiar music lets listeners realize a TV show they recognize and like is airing. The time of this music has changed in recent years. A theme has to be 15 seconds or less to be considered for an Emmy award.

Don Peake, the composer, would view an episode and write the background music in one week. The next morning (which was on Fridays) he would conduct an orchestra of 25 to 40 people. The music was recorded mono with no overdubs.

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