As chief news correspondent at E!, Ken Baker ’92 has spent plenty of time on Hollywood red carpets and amassed a star-studded contacts list in his phone. But what’s so great about him is that he still gets a kick out of his job. The day we spoke, Baker — whom I worked with at Us Weekly more than a decade ago — was scheduled to interview actress Shannen Doherty. “How fun is that?” he asked, adding that he’s glad his position is less managerial than it was when he arrived at E! seven years ago. “I don’t have to approve time cards or deal with people complaining,” he noted with a laugh. “I feel really lucky that I get to be a journalist.”
But then, who wouldn’t feel that way when your job takes you to Venice to cover George Clooney’s wedding, as he did last year? “It was one of the all-time best assignments ever — second only to covering Tom Cruise’s Roman wedding!” said Baker. “I was literally on a boat next to him as he ferried to his wedding.” In addition to covering major Hollywood news events, Baker also interviews celebrities, does pre- and post-awards show commentary, shoots E! News updates, and hosts the online pop culture news show Live From E!. He does only a bit of writing for TV and online, “but I like that because it leaves me a lot of mental space in my brain.”
And he needs it: Baker is also an author who’s written nine books, everything from memoirs to fiction. “Basically, at age 40, I became a young adult novelist!” he said, noting how his primary job feeds into his newer career. “The novels that I write are grounded in pop culture, so I’m constantly stimulated.” In the past three years, he’s released Fangirl, about a girl who falls for a pop star, and How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly In Love, about an obese teen who goes on a reality show so her family can win a cash prize. (“It’s also about learning to love yourself,” he added.) “Sometimes you can get to a deeper truth in fiction than in nonfiction. That’s what I like about it.”
Now he’s creating his own young adult series, Deadline Diaries, about a mystery-solving blogger. The first book, Finding Forever, will be published in September and focuses on Hollywood’s youth obsession.
“This is exactly what I should be doing,” said Baker, a geology major who has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and has worked for ABC News, local papers, People, and Us Weekly, with a break to play one season of minor league pro hockey. The former Raider goalie, who lives about 20 miles from L.A. in Hermosa Beach with his wife, Brooke, and their children, Chloe, 10, and Jackson, 12, is also a hockey dad who spends many of his off hours at the rink (his kids are also puck stoppers). He hits the ice weekly, too, sometimes alongside actor Cuba Gooding Jr., in a Hollywood league run by producer Jerry Bruckheimer. As Baker sees it, there’s a big connection between goaltending and writing: “They both force you to be in the moment.”
Of course, he’s also looking toward the future. His memoir Man Made, about the hormonal havoc a benign pituitary tumor wreaked on his body, is being turned into a romantic comedy starring Elijah Wood (new title: The Late Bloomer), and he’s also optioned the movie rights to Fangirl. “If all of these books can have a life of their own, that’d be really cool,” he said. “That’s the dream.”
— Joey Bartolomeo ’95