The League canceled its New York Comic-Con panel this year so star Steve Rannazzisi would not be subjected to questions from angry New Yorkers, during the open mic portion of the fun, as to why he’d lied about being in one of the World Trade Center towers at the time of the terrorist attack, the comic told Howard Stern today.
About a month ago, FX Networks was left scrambling to figure out how to handle the next episode of The League after the New York Times reported Rannazzisi had made up his account of being in one of the towers hit by hijacked commercials planes, killing thousands. His detailed fictitious recollection of his harrowing experience on the 54th floor of the south tower as the first plane struck – a tall tale he stuck with for 14 years – made for a great backstory and helped catapult his career.
FX expressed its disappointment with the comic, but went forward with its scheduled telecast of Episode 2 on the seventh season of FXX’s The League. Comedy Central likewise went ahead with a Rannazzisi special scheduled to air that weekend. Only Buffalo Wild Wings, which had featured the comic in an ad campaign, dropped him.
When asked by Stern today whether he’d lost any other gigs in wake of the lie being exposed, Rannazzisi said, “This week was supposed to do a panel at Comic-Con in New York for The League. We’ve done it for the past couple years. But we figured an open microphone with 4,000 people being able to ask whatever question they wanted to probably wasn’t the best situation.”
“Because it could cause turn into a let’s bash Steve kind of thing?” asked Stern.
“Someone could just get up there and start talking about how they lost someone, and I’m the worst person in the world,” Rannazzisi said. “And they would have a justifiable reason to stand there, and I would have to take that. But that’s not what that’s for,” he added.
Rannazzisi said he wanted to appear on Stern’s radio program to apologize to people who had actually lost a loved one in that attack, because Stern is “identified” with New York and “a hero of mine.”
“I don’t dare go to the phones to see how people are feeling,” Stern said later in the interview. “You might get the shit beaten out of you. … I’m looking at the phones and there are still people that want to scream at you. … People are angry. I’m angry too. I mean this is such a horrible thing that happened in our history and to lie about it seems so f*cking wrong.”
But, Stern later gave Rannazzisi points for coming on his show. “The thing that bothered me about Brian Williams – I don’t think Brian Williams has ever admitted to himself that he ever did something wrong. I think today you said, ‘Hey, I did something really f*cking horrible and made up the whole f*cking lie. You came clean about it. There’s something healthy about that.”
Plus, Stern noted brightly, of Rannazzisi’s situation: “It’s got to be depressing as f*cking hell.”
Here is the full interview: