After getting fired from KSN just before Christmas – and after the week-long whirlwind that turned him into an international viral video star quieted down – former anchor Justin Kraemer found himself with a lot of … free time.
He filled it producing and starring in a video that poked fun at his own predicament, and now that’s gone viral, too.
The video, all three minutes and 45 seconds of it, is posted on YouTube under the title “Lemonade: The Kansas Anchorman Tribute.” Since Kraemer posted it last week, it’s been viewed nearly 22,000 times and has been featured by some of the same international publications that originally joined in the coverage of his on-air expletive, including the London Daily Mail.
To review, Kraemer and his co-anchors had just wrapped up the Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 p.m. newscast. As the closing credits ran, Kraemer could be heard muttering, “Let’s get the (expletive) out of here.” The following Monday, Kraemer was fired from KSN, but the incident had made international news.
Websites around the country and the world linked to a clip on YouTube posted by a viewer minutes after the broadcast. Stories about the incident appeared on the Huffington Post, Gawker, the London Daily Mail and the New York Daily News. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel joked about it on his network show, too. As recently as Monday of last week, the clip was still living. The “Ellen” show featured it in a collection of TV news bloopers.
Many of those covering the incident compared Kraemer to Ron Burgundy, the fictional newscaster played by Will Ferrell in the “Anchorman” films. In the first film from 2004, Ferrell famously signs off his newscast with the same expletive, then goes on a downward spiral after getting fired.
The comparison served as an inspiration for Kraemer and a friend, video producer Shawn Rhodes. They decided, he said, to turn Kraemer’s lemons into lemonade.
“While I do remain very apologetic that this entire thing happened, at this point a lot of people are having fun with it,” Kraemer said. “I figured we’d have fun, too. I got a few of my friends together and decided to make the thing. I’m still not sure it was the smartest thing to do, but a lot of people seem to think it’s pretty funny.”
The video is a near line-by-line re-creation of the Burgundy meltdown. Kraemer takes the Burgundy role, and his friends, including popular local comedians Bucky Walters, Ted Woodward and Kevin Connelly of “Gridiron” fame, take the other parts. The clip starts with a re-enactment of the fateful KSN newscast, then portrays the firing, an angry mob gathered to protest Kraemer’s potty mouth, then an unshaven Kraemer roaming the streets of Wichita, chugging a gallon of milk and being snubbed by his former co-workers, portrayed in the video by real-life KSN veterans Anita Cochran, Anthony Powell and Mark Bogner.
Kraemer was able to gather about 50 people outside Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to film his mob scene on a frigid Saturday afternoon, he said. And he also was able to use his broadcast connections to persuade famous broadcaster and former Wichitan Bill Kurtis to voice a line for the video.
“I still can’t believe Bill Kurtis was kind enough to help us out with this extraordinarily silly project,” Kraemer said. “He e-mailed me three different takes for us to use, and I really did possibly listen to him saying my name 50 times in a row.”
Kraemer, who also lost a job opportunity in Colorado Springs after his infamy spread, said he is hesitant to talk about what else he’s been up to since the incident. He has some prospects, he said, but he’s in no hurry to leave Wichita and is taking his time to choose the right opportunity.
The past month has been the most surreal of his life, he said, but it’s also restored his faith in the kindness of strangers, who continue to contact him daily offering support.
“What I have found amazing about this situation is that it really demonstrated, more than anything, that in this state and in this country, we believe in giving people second chances,” he said. “People who don’t know anything about the story have been coming to my defense because it’s ingrained in the fabric of this nation to forgive and to give second chances. And I thought that was kind of beautiful.”