By Steve C, theTVaddict.com Special West Coast Correspondent
It was a terribly cold California morning the day of the Knight Rider Press/Media event on the back-lot area of NBC studios just outside of the Jay Leno studios. All the outlets of TV, Print and Internet huddled together for warmth, steadily eating pastries for nourishment and chugging hot coffee to keep warm as we waited around. But it wasn’t long before an announcers voice prepared us for the event we’d all gathered to cover. And suddenly the cold was a thing of the past as our bodies filled with adrenaline and warmth as our blood was racing in anticipation, for we were about to get a look at the all new Knight Industries 3000 and meet the cast of this 2-hour movie event.
A roar of engines ignited behind a closed gate at the end of the lot as 3 versions of KITT prepared to roll out. Gone is the classic Pontiac T-Top Trans Am we fell in love with in 1982, this was the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT5500KR. The 1st to pull up was the “Remote KITT” a totally 2-person operated remote-controlled car, which until the show airs we won’t see what we’ve been told is a vehicle that can change shape and color. It roared out, no driver, pulled to a stop and the door opened up. Cool!!! Next was the “Stock KITT” car, the hero car in its natural state, it pulled up with bunch of passengers inside which a few minutes later we discovered was the cast of the show. Just as the hero car slowed to a halt the 3rd vehicle sped out, this was what was referred to as the “Attack KITT”, it quickly was enveloped in a cloud of smoke as it began burning rubber by spinning and doing donuts. Once it pulled ahead and parked, the on-lookers and fellow media attendees all applauded. The cast was then introduced, they exited the Hero KITT and the interviews began.
Now some devotees of the original super car crime fighting drama hold some hard-core attachments to a show that spanned over a good part of the 1980’s. There was a dynamic between the futuristic talking Knight 2000 and it’s Captain Kirk’ish debonair ladies man; Michael Knight that has yet to be matched between a human and a computerized counterpart. So how will this new 2-hour movie event with potential to be a whole new series take to a generation who may never have seen the original series in anything but occasional reruns, or to the generation who last saw KITT race across their TV screen in 1986? As a die-hard fan of the classic show I was honored to be present today to witness the re-birth of the franchise and do truly wish it can garner the speed and recognition it’s creators hope it to achieve. In this incarnation we’re apparently now flash-fowarding 20+ years and seeing a whole new generation of characters including Michael Knight’s son and a newly designed KITT. The cast seemed to be quite laid-back and excited to meet and greet the media, and I was bursting with anticipation to meet them, so began my interview…
TheTVaddict.com: Knight Rider man…how does it feel to be stepping into the shoes of such a legendary show?
Justin Bruening (Mike Tracer): Well they are big shoes to fill actually, so I don’t think it’s sunk in yet
Now you seem to be embodying the look of Michael Knight here today w/ the red shirt, leather jacket, is this an outfit your character inherits from his father?
Actually its funny when I went in for the 1st audition I wore this same exact outfit, all stuff from my closet, the maroon shirt, the jacket and jeans, I mean this is a show I watched as a kid and I watched the whole 1st season again before auditioning to get ready. So I saw his outfit and thought, hey, I can pull that together. Anyway, I eventually got the gig and when I showed up to shoot they hand me this outfit for the show I’m like…but I wore this, I own this (laffs)
Ok so the cars obviously updated to match the times, but taking a look inside it today, it seems like it’s missing all the futuristic feel the old Knight Rider Trans-Am had. Nowhere does it seem to have all the lights and gadgets and high-tech feel the original KITT had, so are you feeling like you’re in KITT still…
Well yeah because it really is high tech but its able to disguise itself in the same sense that it morphs into a really bad-ass attack car. And the key thing I was told is that everything in this car is movable, so its like drawers pull out, shelves and stuff…
Kind of like the old Super Pursuit Mode Kitt had?
Yeah, yeah, yeah exactly, so I know they don’t have the light on this one (the HERO driving vehicle) but they do on the attack car
So now who’s doing the voice for the car, is it William Daniels again?
No, its actually Will Arnett which is really cool, I’m a fan of his…
And how is it working w/ the beautiful Deanna Russo?
Oh she’s a sweetheart; she really is fun to work with…
So far what’s the most memorable experience of your shooting this pilot?
Well we have one car that’s remote control so there’s a guy just sitting somewhere w/ a little radio remote control…so just sitting in the car when you have absolutely no control, because the doors even open and close by themselves…so I’d have to say the most exciting part about it was sitting in the car and the door slams shut and that realization that I AM NOT DRIVING THIS CAR, it was really like…ok, I’m really in KITT.