"Were you surprised?" asks host Tom Bergeron moments after the show. "I was really surprised. I thought he'd go at least three or four weeks." The "he" in question is David Hasselhoff, the first star bounced from the new season of Dancing With the Stars.
But Hasselhoff knew he was in trouble long before he earned that dismal 15 points from the judges Monday night, tied for the bottom of the leader board with Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and comic Margaret Cho. Hasselhoff was worried about his ability to move even before he started rehearsing. "I'm falling apart because I'm 58," he said. "I'm worried about my joints holding up. They're complaining all the time, since jumping in and out of a black car [Knight Rider] and running down the sand [Baywatch]. My knees were always going, 'This is not what you are supposed to be doing.' Even the knee doctor said, 'If you didn't run down the beach for 11 years and jump in and out of that car, you'd be fine.' I actually called a doctor and said, 'Hey, guess what? I'm doing Dancing With the Stars. And he hung up! And then his secretary called back and said, 'The doctor says send Mr. Hasselhoff in to see me because he's going to need me.'"
But there was more at play here than mere physical discomfort: Hasselhoff wasn't sure he wanted to do the show at all. "I came into this a bit reluctantly because I was doing my tour in Europe, and doing a tour in America, and things were sort of falling into place," he says. "People are seeing that I can really sing, and really put on a good show. The audiences are coming around."
His pro partner, Dancing champ Kym Johnson, says she enjoyed teaching him but added, diplomatically, "Getting him focused sometimes was a challenge."
So there was no shock or disappointment on Hasselhoff's face when the axe fell, and not much reaction from the studio audience. "I knew going into this how much work it was going to take," he says, shrugging. "So it's just another journey, another challenge. It's been a great ride."