Baywatch star David Hasselhoff used to get bent out of shape about the jokes Jay Leno and David Letterman make about his unlikely status as a pop-music Uberstar in Europe. But these days Hasselhoff is singing a different tune. ''It's free advertising,'' he says from Hong Kong, where he's putting in an appearance for the opening of Planet Hollywood. ''I say, keep it coming. I love it.''
One of Germany's top recording acts for a decade, the American-born Hasselhoff has yet to translate his musical success Stateside. He's trying to change that by crooning his way through David Hasselhoff & His Baywatch Friends. The live, 90-minute pay-per-view special features his fellow lifeguards from the globally popular syndicated series, Pamela Anderson and David Charvet, as guests at a male/female bathing-suit beauty contest. Winners get a guest part on Baywatch, natch.
He'll also be joined by Marla Maples Trump for a country duet. (Nepotism alert: The event originates from Atlantic City's Trump Castle.) Contrary to press reports, Trump says her hubby doesn't mind her working. ''He's okay with it,'' she jokes. ''Just as long as I have dinner ready by seven!''
Mounting this special has cost Hasselhoff $500,000, so he doubts it will generate a Trumplike fortune. He's already a wealthy man as an executive producer of Baywatch, which is about to launch an as-yet-untitled spin-off. ''This isn't about making money,'' he explains. ''I just want people to know I can sing.''
And Hasselhoff has a firm sense of his target crowd. ''I see myself doing the stuff that Michael Bolton does, or country pop. I'm not looking for the Guns N' Roses audience,'' he says. ''Then again, they're probably not looking for me, either.''