Saturday, March 21, 2009

Will the real Ken Levine please stand up?

I’m the other Ken Levine.

There’s the Ken Levine who is a big video game designer. He’s a giant in the industry. I probably get twenty people a day logging on here thinking I’m him. Sorry. I’m not. I don’t even own a video game.

Then, according to imdb, I was the location manager on JURASSIC PARK and FLIPPER. I don’t know who that Ken Levine was but I still get Christmas cards from dolphins.

I mention all of this to set the record straight because there is a Ken Levine impostor. I know what you’re thinking – why would anyone in their right mind want to impersonate me?

Because there was a jingle.

In the early 80’s I was pulling a weekend shift as a disc jockey on KFI Los Angeles. (CHEERS had just started and who knew if it was going to last?) The station commissioned a new jingle package and one sang “Ken Levine KFI 6-40”. Next to an Emmy there is no greater honor than having your own jock jingle.

A few years after I left they hired a new guy and since they already had this nifty paid-for jingle they insisted he use the name Ken Levine.

So now I’m getting people saying they heard me on the radio. I listened to him and well, he was me with a lobotomy. I called the station manager to protest. He said, “Tough shit. Call the union” and hung up on me. Nice.

I then did call the union. That station would be sorry they ever messed with me! The AFTRA official told me there was nothing they could do. What?? As a radio performer the only thing you have to identify yourself is your name. He shrugged. I said you can’t register with SAG as Paul Newman. You can’t join the WGA as Neil Simon. Still, they were powerless. Talk about a toothless union.

For the next year I had to endure friends saying, “I heard you on KFI. What happened? You used to be funny.”

And then a few years later the station went to a talk format and I did a couple of fill-in shifts. They wondered if maybe I shouldn’t use another name because they recently had a guy named Ken Levine.

WTF!!?

I managed to keep the name and if anyone else tries to use it I will cause a shock wave. Wait a minute, that’s one of the games created by the other me. Jesus, now even I’m confused.

26 comments:

Harold X said...

It's a different thing with d.j.s, sort of. For a long time, there were morning guys named "Morgan" in many markets -- maybe there still are. And there's the Johnny Rabbitt/Jimmy Rabbitt game (a GM renamed Dale Payne "Jimmy" because Johnny R was a big deal at the time. Clear Channel -- or whatever they're calling themselves now -- has several stations using the "Kiss" moniker.

There may be a lot of guys legitimately named "Levine" in show business -- do you think? -- but how many of them pronounce it to rhyme with "divine."

ritigner: what comes after "readinger"

A, Buck Short said...

Word is the guy planned on using Brad Levine, but it sounded too Jewish. This is very confusing. In your last post, you said you were going under the name Tad Passiveagressive. What is that, Greek? Sorry that's all I got.

Anonymous said...

Bio Shock was awesome, man!

Anonymous said...

at least you're the guy getting compliments for some cool games; imagine what the other guy has to go through with people coming up to him saying "I loved you work on [shitty sitcom]!'". that's gotta suck

Anonymous said...

Ken, I love your wirting style! You're so funny. Originally found your blog because I'm such a nut about M*A*S*H----but have continued being a reader because of the way you tell a story. I can't believe they wanted you to use a DIFFERENT name after forcing the other guy to take the JINGLE name! If a man doesn't have his name, what's he got? ....I mean, aside from his SSN and his character?

Parantar said...

that was awesome!

Emily said...

WIRT ME BABY...

Sebastian said...

What's funny is that there isn't even a diambiguation on Wikipedia for Ken Levine but rather a "if you were looking for the guy who did TV shows, click here, otherwise Ken Levine did these computer games:
Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock 2, Tribes: Vengeance, Freedom Force, its sequel Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich, SWAT 4 and BioShock."

:-)

I love how you are listed as a "one or two time writer" in the Simpson's author block :-D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Levine_(TV_personality)

Anonymous said...

KUZZ decided to keep the name of the over-night DJ the same when they hired females. My only distinction is that I am the original Misty Dawn! LOL!

Stuff said...

Hey Ken,

I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm from Boston so I'm a huge baseball fan (Go Sox!) I also love tv/movies and grew up on shows likes Cheers and the Simpsons.

I work in education full time, but I'm also an aspiring writer. I'd love to see what you think of my writing. Here's an old post, but it follows my experience while I was in LA. Thanks! -Paul

http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/09/15-seconds-of-fame.html

Neil said...

Here's an invterview with you, the other, erm, wait anyway here's an invterview with your name!

Eduardo said...

When I discovered your blog, I thought you were the TV Writer AND the video game guy. Your individual resume's are impressive enough, but I thought there was some kind of creative God who wrote MASH, Cheers, and System Shock.

I got some pretty weird looks when I wondered to my friends how you manage to broadcast baseball games while Bioshock was in final production.

Mary Stella said...

I thought repeated names were pretty common in radio. Aren't there a dozen Rick O'Sheas? There used to be two Shadow Stevens (one spelled Shadoe, but who sees spelling on radio).

At least you didn't lose your name, Ken. Today's Miami Herald ran a big story on famed astrologer to the Latin world Walter Mercado who apparently signed away his own name to a promoter and now has to go to court to get back usage.

John said...

Hey, at least they didn't make you go by the on-air name "Mr. KFI".

AlaskaRay said...

>>I managed to keep the name and if anyone else tries to use it I will cause a shock wave. Wait a minute, that’s one of the games created by the other me. Jesus, now even I’m confused.<<

WOW! You wrote Shock Wave. I'm impressed. It's a great game.

At least no one is trying to steal my name.

Zorro Schwartz

Dave said...

Whoa, I had deja-vu there for a second, until I found this (you can run, but you can't hide from Google): http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2007/09/will-real-ken-levine-please-stand-up.html

KEN LEVINE said...

By now many longtime readers that on Sundays (usually low traffic days) I reprise posts from the archives usually from 18 months to 2 years ago. I've acquired a lot of new readers in that time and as NBC used to say about reruns "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you".

Meanwhile, I've been changing my posts on a daily basis for over three years now. I hope Dave doesn't feels cheated for the money he's paying to this blog.

Anonymous said...

someone fixed your imdb.

Anonymous said...

You think you've got problems???

Lee H. Oswald
Poughkeepsie, NY

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I'm always getting confused with
19th century British general Sir Robert Napier, even though we have different middle names.

I only used the name Ken Levine once. I was being arrested on a morals charged and just said the first thing that popped into my mind. Sorry if that messed up your security clearance, Ken.

Ben said...

What about Pol Neuman and Neal Symon?

ammilitr: failed measuring unit for military equipment in the proposed metric conversion.

A. Buck Short said...

The title of today’s post reminded me how much Ah pitty the foos who are too young to miss that zany Bud Collyer.

jbryant said...

In related news, Steve McQueen has a new movie out. It's called "Hunger," and he directed it. I guess all he's too decomposed to get work in front of the camera these days, but it's good to see he's still able to make a "living."

Anonymous said...

I always mistake the video game guy for you (and wonder why your going to be at PAX..)

Dave Mackey said...

There are some really corny fake names in radio - jock Rusty Potts (think potentiometers), newsman Rip Reed, and at least a half dozen ski condition reporters named Brandy St. Bernard or Brandy Alexander. There are probably a half a dozen Johnny Darks out there, including one who worked for WNBC and another who is currently pulling a weekend shift on my local oldies station.

It makes me glad (a) I'm not in radio any more, and (b) I always insisted on using my real name on air... and my real name is Dan Ingram. ;)

Mattt Enss said...

Part of the problem is that Ken Levine, the game designer, is originally a writer who worked in Hollywood (I don't know any details about what he wrote/worked on back then), so when I first found your blog I still thought you might be the same person.