“Knight Rider” FBI Agent’s Bisexuality May Be Dropped


When AfterEllen.com spoke further with the producers about whether Rivai is still bisexual, Thompson said: "I’m trying to make a show that’s about this team; I don’t know what she is. When I saw the two-hour … I went, what did that scene mean? Does that mean she’s gay or does it mean she’s bisexual? She picked this chick up or — I didn’t understand what it meant, personally."

When this reporter said that the scene seemed fairly clear, Thompson elaborated: "It was very suggestive, yes. But I still went, does that mean she’s gay and picks up people just as a whim because she’s an FBI agent? So she’s not afraid that they’re gonna rip her off because she has a gun? I’m like, what did that mean? She flashes the badge and the gun — like what does that mean? She flashed the badge and the gun to get the chick in bed? I mean … if you’re gonna do it, you should do it. That’s my opinion. It shouldn’t be suggestive, it should be just period."

In contrast, Dave Bartis, who did work on the two-hour movie, was not confused about what the scene meant. "That was my preference," he said when asked whether Rivai is bisexual, "because I thought that was very interesting. It left a lot of story lines open, a lot of possibility. So we were careful not to say one way or another."

Thompson seemed unhappy with the way Rivai’s sexuality was raised in the movie. "I didn’t understand it on a number of levels," he said of the sexually suggestive scene, "’cause there was no payoff. It didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t see her — I didn’t see anybody talk about it, you know, and to me, if you’re gonna do something, you should do it and make it a part of the thing."

Asked if the scene was handled in a salacious way, Bartis answered frankly: "We’re doing a show that’s kind of salacious. Our show is supposed to be kind of sexy, and you’re also seeing Mike in bed with a girl who almost has no clothes on, and another girl comes in the room, so is that any more remarkable?" He was referring to a scene in the two-hour movie that strongly suggests Mike was involved in a threesome.

"I wanted to have skin in the show," Bartis said. "I wanted to have a sexy show. Sexy guys, sexy girls, fast cars. It’s pretty fun."

Bartis’ desire to produce a sexy show may be limited by the fact that Knight Rider will air at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights. Thompson cited that time slot as a reason for why he wasn’t sure whether Rivai’s character could remain bisexual. "We’re also an 8 o’clock show," he said, "and I don’t know what they’re going to let us do. I get nailed on everything in standards-and-practice world."

He skirted the question of why a bisexual character would need to engage in explicit sexual activity on the air, but Poitier clearly connected on-screen sexual activity with the character’s sexual orientation. "I think because we’re on at 8 o’clock, it’s a little bit more family hour, maybe there will be less that they can show," she said.

She explained: "I don’t know if they could the show the way that we did in the movie, like the girl you saw naked from the back and side; it was … explicit that they just had sex or whatever. I don’t know what the rules are in terms of the 8 p.m. hour. From what I’ve been told, it’s different. I know only because they’ve talked about Justin and Deanna’s sex scenes and what they can and cannot do. … I don’t know if they’ll be able to go as far as they would have been had we done a sequel to the movie or had we been at 10 p.m."

Asked if producers were de-gaying Poitier’s character, Bartis said: "That’s not the case. … I want to introduce characters that are not remarkable in their sexuality. It’s not remarked upon, it’s a fact of life, as Syd said about her character, her generation … and I want to see that reflected in television the way it is for her generation."

In response to the same question, Thompson said that de-gaying her was "not my intention at all," but then he added, "I have no intention of anything; I haven’t thought that far ahead."

Both Thompson and Bartis are credited as executive producers on Knight Rider, but Thompson was presented by NBC as the show’s head writer. Time will only tell whose vision for Carrie Rivai will make it onto television this fall.

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