'The League' Star Steve Rannazzisi Admits to Lying About Sept. 11 Attacks Story
The comedian has often recounted how the World Trade Center attacks propelled him to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy, leaving his job at Merrill Lynch (on the south tower's 54th floor) behind: "I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams."
Steve Rannazzisi has previously, and repeatedly, narrowed down his personal and professional success to an important day in national history: Sept. 11, 2001.
In various interviews, the comedian and star of FX's The League — whose second Comedy Central stand-up special Breaking Dad airs Saturday — has recounted how the World Trade Center attacks propelled him to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy, leaving his account manager post at Merrill Lynch (on the 54th floor of the south tower) behind. Additionally, these retellings (which took place only during interviews and never during Comedy Central programming) have also included the assertion that his girlfriend worked in the south tower's 24th floor, but never made it to work that day.
"We decided that we were moving," he said on Pauly Shore & Friends in 2009. "We were like: 'You know what? I am going to do what I want to do now.' I wasn’t doing a lot of comedy. I wasn’t doing lot of acting, what I went to school for." And in an interview with Marc Maron (embedded below), he said after recounting the experience in very intricate detail, "I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams."
However, according to The New York Times, Rannazzisi has admitted that the account was false, after facing evidence that questioned his anecdotes.
"As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough," he said in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter and on Twitter. "I was not at the Trade Center on that day. I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry."
The now-comedian — previously of Ashton Kutcher's prank show Punk'd as well as Big Day and Samantha Who? — had worked in Midtown that day (not for Merrill Lynch, which has never employed Rannazzisi or had offices in the towers), and his girlfriend was set to temp in the nearby World Financial Center that day. The two both did move to Los Angeles shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. (His website credits also falsely claim that he studied theater and film at the State University of New York at Purchase, though he actually majored in communications at SUNY Oneonta. His publicist told The Times this was an oversight.)
"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?" he continued in his statement. "It is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them — and the people that love me — that I ask for forgiveness."
"It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones," he concluded. "The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake."
FX Networks told THR in a statement, "We are disappointed to learn that Steve Rannazzisi lied about being in the World Trade Center on 9/11. It is upsetting that he would fabricate a story about having survived that horrible tragedy. It is also unfortunate that he did not admit to the truth sooner. That said we believe Steve is sincere in his apology and will do everything he can to make amends moving forward."
Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement, "Upon careful review, we have decided to discontinue airing our current television commercials featuring Steve Rannazzisi." The comedian was the face of the company in a new ad campaign at the time.
Comedy Central said in a statement to THR, "We just learned about this last night. We are very disappointed to hear about Steve's misrepresentations and are currently determining how we will move forward."
THR has reached out to FXX for further comment. Listen to one of Rannazzisi's retellings of the day below.
Sept. 18, 6 a.m. Updated with new statement from Buffalo Wild Wings.