It's been almost 30 years since David Hasselhoff became a household name with the success of the '80s action series "Knight Rider" on NBC. Since then, he's gone on to headline the international success "Baywatch," have a huge singing career in Europe, become one of the judges on NBC's hit "America's Got Talent" and had the dubious honor of being the first dancer eliminated on the just-ended season of "Dancing With The Stars." And then, of course, there are the tabloids, where "The Hoff" has regularly appeared for years but the most notable instance being the infamous video that was leaked in 2007 featuring him in a drunken stupor.
It's because of all the ups and downs in his long career that the entertainer realized it was time to set the record straight on everything about him and that arrives this weekend in the form of "The Hasselhoffs." In the A&E reality series, Hasselhoff guides his two daughters, Haley and Taylor Ann, through the rough terrain of show business and also lets cameras in on their life together as a close-knit family. Our Jim Halterman rang up Hasselhoff in New York City, where he was promoting the new show on the New York-based talk shows to find out more about the new series.
Jim Halterman: How did the show come about in the first place?
David Hasselhoff: I was doing a show called "Tales of the Hoff" and it was kind of like "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Ryan Seacrest and I went into business together and it was over at E! I couldn't really do a reality show because of "America's Got Talent" and then E! didn't want to do anything scripted. A&E called and said they wanted to do a show. I was more interested in doing scripted, they said they weren't interested in that but then I said, "What if I was to do a show about me being a single dad raising two kids and living a life where sometimes it's unfair about the press but also about being honest with myself and my kids as well as helping them pursue their music and follow their journey being my daughters?"
JH: Did you think about how this show would be perceived in comparison to other reality shows like "Keeping Up With The Kardashians?"
DH: The first episode is very heartwarming and tells a story of what the show is about. How we're a loving a family and how we get through life together with all the tabloids. It was an opportunity to have a half-hour commercial for who we are and not, "This is who we are because you read about it in a magazine." It was an opportunity to come clean and talk about what it's like being David Hasselhoff and the business. It's not like the Kardashians or Ozzy Osbourne. It's not over the top television. It's not like who's dating who and who's going out so in a way we thought maybe it was too soft but in the end we worked really hard at presenting a television show that I felt was not going down to reality but coming up to visiting a family that is successful in show business and wants to continue to be successful in show business. I didn't want this to hurt my acting or singing career and I don't think it will. I think whether it lasts 10 more episodes or no more episodes, we did it, we're there and in the end I'm happy with the progression of my daughters and why we did it was to exploit their music and say 'Hey, how can I help my daughters?'
JH: In the show, we see you give a lot of advice to the girls but have they helped you in return?
DH: These girls have really helped me. We're honest with each other; we're fiercely loyal to each other. What can I do as David Hasselhoff to bring awareness to the fact that they have great hearts and that they want to be in show business. They don't want to be famous; they don't care about that at all. They've seen what fame can bring but they want to be successful and they want to perform. We went from seeing them doing their scales and the hard realities of how hard work it takes and then, as you'll see in the last episode of the season, performing in front of 10,000 people. They were gaining the respect of the audience and gaining my respect because I kind of threw them out to the wolves. But they've found the same thing I found. They found happiness and passion and a sense of confidence onstage. Sometimes for us it's like pulling strings. It's easier to perform and be onstage than dealing with daily life! You get an honest reaction on stage from people. If you're good you're good, if you're not, you're not.
JH: You've been in front of the cameras for so long but how did your daughters deal with it in shooting the show?
DH: Because they were growing up on the set of "Baywatch" when they were little kids they were so used to it; like falling off a log. It was all kind of therapeutic. We forgot that the cameras were there and our emotions were overflowing. It was actually kind of cool. It was a way to let our emotions go. There was the stuff I was going through and then for Taylor to really leave school. I love school and I didn't want her to leave school and I loved going to visit her and being the King of the Universe. Then Haley got the lead in this [ABC Family] series called "Huge" and what it meant for her. In a way, these are all fantastic home movies so that's kind of where we're at with the show.
JH: Do you see the girls as having thick skin since they've seen you go through so much?
DH: Yeah, they've got thick skin because they've had to live with being my daughters. Most of their friends are incredibly supportive of me, as well. They have pretty thick skin. They've had to. There are a lot of times when they want me to sue every newspaper because they know what they say is not true. I just say 'You can't sue them all, honey. You just have to move on.'
JH: What else do we see on the show? Do we get into your "Dancing With the Stars" experience?
DH: It goes as far as the Comedy Central roast and all the behind-the-scenes of that, my feelings about putting it all out on the table and let's get it over it and let's make the jokes once and for all and move on. I got "Dancing With The Stars" immediately after the show ended so we don't get to that. So now it's what's next for "The Hasselhoffs." If it continues, it's about what's the next level. It's kind of like Entourage meets Fame.
JH: Do we get to see any romance in the show or does it stay focused on your respective careers?
DH: That's all around the show. It's kind of like floating around and we don't really hit it over the head because it's more about our relationship. The romance and the dating and stuff are not really inherent in the show as much as it is our relationship as a family.
JH: Do you think one of the keys to your career longevity is because you can laugh at yourself a little bit?
DH: I think the key to my longevity is that the only person that can really bring me down totally is me. I've done a good job of that and I'm really good at getting back up. I love a challenge and I think what's really kept me going all these years is the public. When I go outside, people yell "Yo, Knight Rider! We love you, man, no matter what they say!" All over the world, I get total complete positive reaction from people and very rarely do I get anything that is negative. No matter what's been printed about me and the ups and downs I still seem to come out on top. "Dancing With the Stars," even though I was voted off first, got their highest ratings in a long time. "America's Got Talent" was number one. I have a new album in Germany and I'm going to the Berlin Wall on New Year's Eve and will be singing "Looking for Freedom." I think "The Hasselhoffs" is really just about a normal family who happens to be in show business. Like they say, "You put on a good show, you get great business. You put on a bad show and they give you the business."
"The Hasselhoffs" premieres on Sunday night at 10:00/9:00c on A&E.