Everybody knows David Hasselhoff, right?
You know the high-voltage-power technician and landscaper from Lake Jackson, Texas?
It's nothing new for someone who shares a famous name to take a lot of ribbing, but the not-so-famous one gets to meet his or her celebrity counterpart when the unscripted CBS series "Same Name" premieres Sunday, July 24. In the opener, "Baywatch" and "Knight Rider" icon Hasselhoff samples the world of electrical worker Hasselhoff, and vice versa.
"I didn't know anything about another David Hasselhoff in America, so when they called me about this, I went, 'Hmm, that's interesting,' " the actor says. "Then they said, 'Well, his father is David Hasselhoff Sr.' I found it really intriguing, and because Hasselhoffs by nature are outgoing and personable, I said, 'Bring it on!' "
However, the other David Hasselhoff didn't embrace the "Same Name" idea quite as readily. "I was real hesitant," he admits. "I am a normal guy that never wanted to be on TV." Ultimately, though, he agreed to do the show because he was "excited about getting to actually meet the guy (who played) all of the characters that I got my nicknames from.
"I was probably 8 or 9 when I first heard of 'Knight Rider.' I was playing football, and I made a tackle. Over the loudspeaker, they announced, 'Nice stop by David "Knight Rider" Hasselhoff!' I wasn't sure what 'Knight Rider' was, though; I was a little young for that show. The worst was boot camp. The last thing you wanted was to stand out, and how do you not stand out with the same name as (the actor who played 'Baywatch' character) Mitch Buchannon?"
"America's Got Talent" alum Hasselhoff says he found the same-named technician "just a real stand-up guy, someone that you and I would hang out with. And someone who had a big misconception of Hollywood. He apologized to me at least four times. The last time on the telephone, he said, 'We all think of celebrities a certain way, and I just never knew you were ' And I said, 'A nice guy?' And he said, 'Yeah!' "
Indeed, Texas resident Hasselhoff allows that he thought the actor would be "pretentious, arrogant and snooty. After living in his shoes and seeing firsthand who he really is, I was ashamed of myself for stereotyping him."
Temporarily living in those shoes involved "citizen" Hasselhoff being led through a concert crowd in Switzerland by celebrity Hasselhoff, who says he wanted to give the Texan a taste of his extra European fame as a music star.
"I said, 'We've got 6,000 people here tonight, and they are crazy. I'm gonna walk this guy from the back of the theater to the front, and I know we're not gonna make it.' But I wanted to show him what it's like when you are riding the wave and you're in the middle of it all, and how exciting and electric and dangerous and passionate and wild it is.
"This guy went onstage with me, and he froze," performer Hasselhoff adds. "I had the words to 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' right in front of him, because everybody knows that song, and he couldn't sing."
Maybe that isn't such a surprise, considering what Texas' David Hasselhoff recalls having endured en route to the stage. "I actually caught an elbow to the side of the head from some guy trying to grab the Hoff," he says. "It was almost like being in a stampede of people. I had the Hoff pushing me forward and the crowd pushing me back, and from side to side, at the same time."
Since "Same Name" has each of the same-named people experiencing the other's life, the famous Hasselhoff also did some of the electrical work normally handled by the other. "I went into these 135,000-volt circuit breakers," the "Hoff" reports. "It was hotter than hot in there, and there was oil maybe as thick as two inches. It was like cleaning off a jar of Vaseline all day long."
Power worker Hasselhoff knows the potential perils of that occupation all too well, but he maintains, "I never worried about the Hoff doing my job. He is Michael Knight! Plus, he was going to be working with my dad. My dad has kept me alive and made sure I did the job the way I did when I first started in this business, so the Hoff was in good hands."
Other personalities getting the "Same Name" treatment in coming weeks -- along with similarly named folks -- include boxer Mike Tyson, New Orleans Saints player Reggie Bush and comedian Kathy Griffin. The results for them could be more than a matter of making a television series episode, if they echo what "Same Name" has yielded for both David Hasselhoffs.
"What we took from the experience," actor Hasselhoff reflects, "is that we're really the same, with the same values and the same morals. It's about what's in a name, and the name Hasselhoff means compassion and mutual respect. When we left each other, there was genuine emotion on both sides. I must have met, like, 85 Hasselhoffs!"
At least one of them also is retaining special memories, since the other David Hasselhoff says he treasures "the opportunity to make a new friend. I know that sounds cheesy, but who wouldn't want to make friends with a famous person they share the same name with? The Hoff has called a few times to check on the family and see how everybody was doing which I never expected to happen."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun