Ken is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker and has an enormous history writing, directing and producing educational films and commercials. Since first appearing as a newscaster in 1992 on Fox News and NBC he has also enjoyed a side career as a journalist both in front of the camera, behind the microphone and through the various newspapers and magazines he’s written for over the course of his professional career. He is also the founder and Creative Director of Six Shooter, a marketing and branding boutique agency that has created global marketing campaigns since the mid-1990s. And in 2011, he released his first book entitled The Way of the Nerd: Practical Advice for Impractical People.
After graduating Syracuse University Ken returned to Chicago to pursue a career in special effects. At that time the city was ripe with feature film shoots, television series and commercials. He immediately landed a job as a practical special effects artist for a series of Kraft commercials and then a campaign for Tylenol where he became an local industry legend when he sliced a grape and filled it with mustard; tossed it into a slingshot and fired away at a stunt car window to simulate bugs hitting a windshield. Six months after graduating college, he was awarded a position in the feature film department of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios. A year later he became a creative assistant to legendary director, John Hughes (Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Home Alone). It was at Hughes’ promoting that Ken launched his own production/marketing company. The company quickly built a reputation globally as a producer of educational films and teaching materials as well as television specials and advocacy videos. It also offered complete marketing and branding packages.
In 1993, at the end of filming a children’s film for PBS entitled, There’s No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, which took home three regional Emmy Awards, he relocated to Portland, Oregon and began producing and directing for a variety of local companies including Nike, Adidas, Wieden+Kennedy and the legendary stop-motion animation house, Will Vinton Studios. A year later he began writing, directing, producing and editing network specials for A&E Television. In the years that followed he created films for networks around the world from the History Channel to the BBC; TF-1 in France to Globo in Brazil. After a string of successful network television specials and documentaries, and after receiving top honors at festivals around the world for his work in educational programing, in 1998 Ken landed a unique opportunity to write and direct a series of investigative documentary films through Rhino Records and Warner Brothers. The films included the Barry Levinson produced, UFOs, JFK & ELVIS: The Movie; Playground After Midnight (which aired on BET); and the last filmed appearance of George Plimpton in the feature documentary The Grecian Urn.
A series of television specials and pilots came next, including a travel adventure/cooking show called Guerrilla Gourmet that Ken photographed and directed on location with the Kuna Indian tribe in the San Blas Island Chains of Panama and Columbia.
In the early 2000s he began accepting offers to create marketing and branding campaigns outside of film production, as well as live event creation and productions for companies like Microsoft and Playstation. He produced events at festivals like Coachella in California and VooDoo Fest in Louisiana. And in 2003 he accepted the challenge of turning a unique event space/restaurant/theater into an iconic Hollywood hotspot. The venue was Cinespace which, among its many contributions to pop culture, launched and co-developed Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak universe.
After Cinespace, Ken was offered the chance to rebrand the global clothing and lifestyle company Von Dutch Originals. During his tenure at Von Dutch, he created an artist in residency program that grew into an international support system called Planet illogical. Pi was involved with a series of high profile occurrences in the mid 2000s including the Obama Hope Campaign; the Paul McCartney 2009 tour; the launch of the feature documentary about The Who; and hundreds of other unique and celebrated projects.
He left Planet illogica six months after helping create the international OneZ trend in apparel, to tour on behalf of his first book, 2011's The Way of the Nerd: Practical Advice for Impractical People. And a year later, he recorded his first full album under his stage name, Jack Dempsey.
Though the years that followed saw him putting more of his focus on to his music and book projects, he continued building the marketing end of his company. Among the highlights of that period was Gamma Labs, Snake & Mongoose, Badcock Apparel and Thistle Hill Organic Wine in Australia.
During the early 1990s he also became an on-air reporter for Fox News and NBC News; an overnight talk show host for WLS Radio out of Chicago; a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a cub reporter and photographer for the New Times Newspapers.
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