Knight Rider writer and co-executive producer Matt Pyken is this week’s contributor to NBC’s Knight Writers Blog. The focus is last night’s Las Vegas-set Knight of the Zodiac, and there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes trivia!
The first problem the production team encountered with this episode was the location. “It’s 300 miles from us here in LA, and not a great town for shooting a TV series,” he says. “If that seems counter-intuitive, think about it. Shooting inside a casino is a big deal. Security is all over the crew, and if you want to simulate a casino heist, forget it. When there’s real money around, the real guys with the real guns tend to get nervous. Then there’s the disruption factor; Las Vegas casinos make more in a day than we could ever pay for a location fee, so they’re not particularly keen on 200 members of a TV crew settling in for a few days.
“Enter the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. These nice folks just happened to build a huge Vegas-style hotel and casino 90 miles east of Los Angeles on the edge of the desert near Palm Springs. We took our entire crew of 200, put them up for three days in the hotel, ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch and shot this episode of Knight Rider everywhere from the casino to the pool to one of the cabana-style suites. It was awesome and it looks exactly like Las Vegas.”
So, all of the driving scenes of Mike and K.I.T.T. in Vegas were special effects, a technique the show has utilised from the get-go. “Without getting too technical, our visual effects wizards composite Kitt in with real footage of Las Vegas -– footage we were able to get from the series Las Vegas, a show Gary Scott Thompson created and I wrote on for five years,” Pyken reveals. Surprisingly, the special effects team that works on the driving scenes is actually located in South Africa!
This episode seems to have been a lot of fun for all involved. Courtney Flynn, Billy’s love interest in this episode, was named after Courtney Flynn, who works on the show. Another lucky member of the crew hit a $4000 dollar slot jackpot!