Comedian Steve Rannazzisi, star of “The League,” and a one-hour special on Comedy Central, confessed Tuesday that his story about escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 was a lie.
Rannazzisi, 37, has attributed much of his career success over the years to his decision to flee New York after 9/11, describing how he worked for Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane hit the north tower, according to The New York Times.
“I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place,” the comedian said in a 2009 interview.
Moments before the second plane hit his building, Rannazzisi was able to flee to the streets below, unharmed, he said.
He soon realized life was too valuable to keep putting his Hollywood dreams on the back burner, and picked up and moved to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, now wife.
“I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams,” Rannazzisi said.
It all sounded like such a harrowing tale, until this week, when Rannazzisi was confronted with evidence he had actually been working in Midtown on Sept. 11, 2001, not for Merrill Lynch, which has no record of his employment.
Moreover, Merrill Lynch did not have an office in either tower, The Times reports.
In a statement provided by the comedian’s publicist Tuesday, Rannazzisi was forced to acknowledge his story was fabricated.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” said Rannazzisi in the statement. “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?
It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones.
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.
All I can ask is for forgiveness.
Interviews from the decade following the Sept. 11 attacks, however, show Rannazzisi was still reliving his life-changing experience, and in great detail as recently as 2011.