When subtlety pays off

Hasselhoff shifts show to Hawaii

HONOLULU — “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff said he might have left the 9-year-old series if the drama had not recently relocated to Hawaii.

And since the show — now called “Baywatch Hawaii” — has settled in the Aloha state for at least two seasons, Hasselhoff said he’s committed to the show for “at least” the next two years and not the one season he had been originally bound to.

“Baywatch” was set to move from Los Angeles to Australia until Hawaii mounted an aggressive campaign for the show that included nearly $3 million in incentives from the state.

“But I was holding a nice little card, and that card said they can’t sell the show without me,” Hasselhoff said during a visit to Honolulu last week. “I played that card in subtle ways and the bottom line was I wanted the show in Hawaii.”

Hasselhoff said he will appear in only 14-17 of “Baywatch’s” 22-episode season this year and is looking for another actor eventually to take over the show’s lead.

Hasselhoff, co-producer of the show with Greg Bonann, said “Baywatch Hawaii” will have a stronger emphasis on stories with “depth of heart, humor and action.” And using “real” actors also will be a priority, he said.

“For the longest time we’d get bodies. Some of the bodies learned how to act and some of the bodies never learned how to act. We were always after the look and thought the acting would come along, but some people never really got it,” he said.

Another reason Hasselhoff didn’t walk away from “Baywatch” was financial security.

“Let’s say I quit ‘Baywatch’ to do another series and it bombs. What then?” he said. “It happened to Ted Danson; it happened to Tom Selleck. What I learned is that you never walk away from a winner.”

Hasselhoff also hopes to open the first “Baywatch”-themed restaurant and retail outlet in Honolulu, which had been slated for Florida.