Wave rider

Orig­i­nal Bay­watch TV star David Has­sel­hoff is soak­ing in the re­newed in­ter­est.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By STEVEN ZEITCHIK

DAVID Has­sel­hoff wasn’t ac­tively stalk­ing Zac Efron on the way to the beach­side port-a-potty. But now that they were both there he fig­ured, well, why not make the most of it?

“You’ve gotta check out Hoff The Record!” Has­sel­hoff said about his lit­tle-known mock­u­men­tary sit­com as the two stood on the sand out­side the bath­room at the Bay­watch

pre­miere on a re­cent Satur­day night in Florida.

“Oh, you were able to make it?” Efron said, sound­ing con­vinc­ing in his in­ter­est.

“We made it! In Eng­land. We have two sea­sons al­ready. Come over to my house! I’ll show it to you!”

“OK!” Efron said.

“It’s my best work. You’ll love it,” Has­sel­hoff as­sured him of the com­edy se­ries about the ac­tor’s post­prime-time life in which he plays a ver­sion of him­self. “Do you have my num­ber?” He pulled out a phone and im­plored Efron to do the same. “Let me give you my num­ber. Here, take my num­ber,” he re­peated.

To say David Has­sel­hoff is en­joy­ing a mo­ment toy­ing with his im­age is to im­ply there was a time he wasn’t do­ing that. In the 16 years since he left be­hind Mitch Buchan­non, the all-Amer­i­can life­guard char­ac­ter of the Bay­watch

fran­chise, Has­sel­hoff has played him­self – or an out­sized sim­u­lacrum known as “The Hoff” – more times than you can count, though he cer­tainly could.

“There was SpongeBob and Dodgeball, and (the par­ody mu­sic video) True Sur­vivor. And, oh, yeah, the Swedish talk show,” he said, be­gin­ning a list that also in­cludes an A&E se­ries, a Jamie Kennedy se­ries, an­other par­ody mu­sic video, a Fin­nish talk show, an up­com­ing indie movie ti­tled Killing Has­sel­hoff and of course, Hoff The Record.

Even Has­sel­hoff’s most in­fa­mous mo­ment – that footage of him crawl­ing in a drunken stu­por to­ward a cheese­had burger – the feel of a vi­ral-video char­ac­ter about it.

Butafew months shy of his 65th birth­day, the ac­tor who first be­came ubiq­ui­tous as Knight Rider’s

Michael Knight, has been giv­ing it al­labitofa turbo boost. Mil­lions this spring have been see­ing the Hoff in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 ,in which he plays the dis­til­la­tion of ego (lit­er­ally) in a late-movie cameo.

Some­what fewer peo­ple, to his cha­grin, have been watch­ing Hoff The Record. A sec­ond sea­son was re­leased last year – it can be found on Net­flix if you know where to look – and he ner­vously awaits word of a third-sea­son pickup.

Now, as a new Bay­watch film ar­rives in the­atres af­ter a long South Florida shoot, the Hoff strikes again: He has a scene play­ing “the Men­tor,” a nod to his orig­i­nal Mitch, guid­ing the new Mitch, played by Dwayne John­son.

In the Es­calade on the way to the pre­miere, Has­sel­hoff polled other pas­sen­gers on how to han­dle the ques­tion of the Bay­watch film. In 1991, Has­sel­hoff backed a new ver­sion of the life­guard se­ries with his own money when the se­ries was can­celled af­ter a dis­mal de­but sea­son on NBC. The re­vived pro­gramme would turn into a global phe­nom­e­non and help cre­ate a mar­ket for so-called first-run syn­di­ca­tion.

Af­ter all that, Has­sel­hoff is irked that the mak­ers of the movie, di­rected by Seth Gor­don, didn’t so­licit much of his in­put. (“It’s a dou­ble-edged sword, be­ing here,” he’d said ear­lier in the day.) He wanted to know how to deal with the sub­ject grace­fully and turned for guid­ance to a re­porter in the car versed in the art of the ac­tor sound bite.

Maybe, “It’s a new cre­ation but the DNA of the orig­i­nal is still in there,” the re­porter said.

He pon­dered that idea. “The DNA, that’s not bad.” Then he thought about it for an­other minute. “But would the Hoff say that?”

Has­sel­hoff be­gan strate­gis­ing var­i­ous ways to work in Hoff The Record on the car­pet – how, when play­ing a char­ac­ter based on your­self, do you tout a show in which you’re play­ing a char­ac­ter based on your­self?

Af­ter all, there’s a beauty to sourc­ing your pub­lic im­age to a meta char­ac­ter: noth­ing ever fails. Even when a quip doesn’t land, you’re not mak­ing a bad joke; you’re sim­ply com­ment­ing on the idea of your­self mak­ing a bad joke.

But where does the Hoff end and David be­gin? “To be hon­est, I don’t know, “he said.

The car was pop­u­lated by Has­sel­hoff’s small en­tourage: His fi­ancee, Hay­ley Roberts, a 37-yearold Brit; his long-time pub­li­cist, an old-school New York char­ac­ter named Judy Katz; and Katz’s adult son, who serves as a kind of ad­vance man for Has­sel­hoff’s pub­lic­ity ap­pear­ances.

They be­gan talk­ing about a pre­ferred topic: why the new movie was rated R. The con­ver­sa­tion then turned to some of the orig­i­nal show’s pro­duc­ers, whom Has­sel­hoff had once clashed with and now hoped to avoid on this evening. “You’ll have to steer me around that,” he said qui­etly to Katz. She nod­ded.

The car crept along a main drag in South Beach. Soon crowds out­side the pre­miere came into view – 1,000 fans at least.

“What’s the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion here?” Has­sel­hoff said to no one in par­tic­u­lar. “I’m go­ing to get an­ni­hi­lated.” It seemed like nar­cis­sism, but his con­cern was quickly val­i­dated: Get­ting out of the car and mak­ing his way down the 90-m car­pet ex­ten­sion to­ward the be­gin­ning of the press line, Has­sel­hoff was bom­barded by a mil­i­tary-grade ca­coph­ony. Shrieks mixed with chants, “Mitch, “Mitch” ... “Michael, Michael” ... “Hoff, Hoff.”

A few se­cu­rity guards came to meet the Hoff posse, but they pro­vided thin cover. Has­sel­hoff slowed pe­ri­od­i­cally and slapped some palms, signed some mem­o­ra­bilia and posed for self­ies, of­ten us­ing his re­li­able two-handed gun salute. One per­son did call out “Cheese­burger.” He pre­tended not to hear. Though the video still sticks in Has­sel­hoff’s craw, he has a ra­tio­nale for why he had made peace with it. “The other day I talked to Hulk Hogan and he said some­thing smart. He said, ‘David, they want us be­cause we sell tick­ets.’ And that’s it. We help the me­dia make money. We sell tick­ets.”

The press line, on a board­walk, was seem­ingly end­less. Ei­ther be­cause of in­nate charisma or his gen­eral habit of re­peat­ing the same sto­ries as if he were telling them for the first time, Has­sel­hoff worked it ex­pertly.

Two ideas were nearly con­stant: One was that he had joined the new film re­luc­tantly. “My daugh­ters said to me, ‘Dad, you can sit here and whine or you could get out there and make a dif­fer­ence,’” a point that be­fud­dled some re­porters be­cause they weren’t aware he had been an­noyed in the first place.

The other was about Hoff The Record. “You’ve got to see it,” he said, en­thu­si­as­ti­cally and in­sis­tently to one re­porter. He would echo the mes­sage down the line. “It’s re­ally some­thing for ev­ery­one. It shows the be­hind-the-scenes.” Few re­porters picked up on it.

Up the car­pet John­son was giv­ing a rather gen­er­ous as­ses­sof ment the di­dou-talk-to-the­o­rig­i­nal-cast ques­tion. “He was so en­cour­ag­ing, so wel­com­ing to me, which I so ap­pre­ci­ated,” the ac­tor said of Has­sel­hoff to one re­porter. (Has­sel­hoff said he and John­son didn’t speak be­fore pro­duc­tion.) John­son and his posse passed Has­sel­hoff just af­ter the lat­ter had fin­ished an in­ter­view. Has­sel­hoff called out to him.

“Mitch!” John­son said, com­ing back and giv­ing a bro hug for the cam­eras as they popped off.

“Mitch!” Has­sel­hoff replied with a sar­cas­tic edge, mak­ing clear who he thought the real Mitch was.

They had a con­ver­sa­tion about act­ing.

“I’m a peo­ple per­son,” John­son said.

“I’m a peo­ple per­son too,” Has­sel­hoff said.

“We’re the same,” John­son said. Pamela Anderson was nearby, but she and Has­sel­hoff didn’t see each other. One of the show’s pro­duc­ers, though, did ap­pear. Has­sel­hoff gave a per­func­tory hello and moved on, ex­chang­ing a know­ing glance with Katz.

Some­one noted Has­sel­hoff’s mous­tache; he said he had it be­cause “my peo­ple wouldn’t let me wear my red trunks” to the pre­miere.

Some­one else asked Has­sel­hoff about get­ting ripped. Ap­par­ently he was worried about the movie be­cause he was in poorer shape the day he shot than he is now. “I’m feel­ing good,” he said to a re­porter who’d asked him whether he’s a “lower body guy or an up­per body guy.” That’s a good ques­tion, he said, then went into a hum­ble­brag of sorts that he used through­out the car­pet: “No one is in good shape when stand­ing next to the Rock.”

A re­porter com­pli­mented him on all his re­cent work.

“May has been a good month for the Hoff,” he said.

The car­pet was end­ing and the cast was pre­par­ing to ride to the theatre about 15 min­utes away. As Has­sel­hoff and his posse ex­ited via a back path to a wait­ing car, he saw fans wait­ing for him and crossed the sand for more self­ies and two-handed gun salutes. He had logged two hours of press and fan time – much longer, by many mul­ti­ples, than his few mo­ments in the film.

Has­sel­hoff and his posse piled back in the Es­calade. As the car snaked to the theatre, he re­peated the bath­room story sev­eral times, in each telling em­bel­lish­ing Efron’s ea­ger­ness and down­play­ing his own a lit­tle more. “Zac wanted to see the show. He was re­ally ex­cited. He was ask­ing if he could come over to watch it,” he was say­ing by the third re­count­ing.

A mo­ment later, Has­sel­hoff chas­tised him­self for miss­ing a car­pet op­por­tu­nity. “I only got in a men­tion of the show about 10 times. I was so over­whelmed at the be­gin­ning I for­got about it.”

He turned to a re­porter. “Write what­ever you want. Just make sure you men­tion Hoff The Record .”– Los An­ge­les Times/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Has­sel­hoff has acted in at least two hit TV se­ries in­clud­ing

Has­sel­hoff (left), the orig­i­nal Mitch of Bay­watch, with John­son (cen­tre) the new Mitch in the film ver­sion, and Efron. — TNS

Knight Rider and Bay­watch. — Hand­out

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