Comedian Steve Rannazzisi, who stars as Kevin on The League, has often cited his close encounter with death on Sept. 11, 2001 as his reason for quitting his job at Merrill Lynch and moving to Los Angeles to pursue comedy.
Except that story was a total lie.
The New York Times looked into Rannazzisi’s intricate account, in which he has described feeling “jostled” on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane hit the north tower, and has said he escaped the building minutes before the second plane crashed. He told an interviewer in 2009 that he has been haunted by dreams of that day.
But when the Times discovered the account was fake, he quickly backtracked in a released statement.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said. “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry. ... For many years, more than anything I have wished that, with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man. It only made me more ashamed. How could I tell my children to be honest when I hadn’t come clean about this?”
Rannazzisi also admitted he was working in Midtown Manhattan that day, and not for Merrill Lynch, which did not have offices in either tower and has no record of his employment.
News of Rannazzisi’s lie could jeopardize his standing with Buffalo Wild Wings, a sponsor that has featured Rannazzisi in an NFL-themed ad campaign.
“We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001,” Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement. “We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”
- Erin Flynn