Years before he became an E! News TV personality and a prolific author, Ken Baker grappled with a problem. He didn't even know what it was, until he was 27 and diagnosed by a doctor.
Baker had barely gone through puberty.
Unknown to him, the Hamburg native had a benign brain tumor pressing on his pituitary gland. The tumor was inhibiting the flow of testosterone into his body and thus Baker never finished puberty. Medication and surgery corrected the problem, and Baker's body caught up — by going through puberty in a single month, at age 27.
Baker, a former Buffalo News intern and Frontier High School graduate, wrote a book about the experience. "Man Made" was published 15 years ago, and after more than a decade in the filmmaking development process, is now a movie. "The Late Bloomer" is a comedic take-off on Baker's story, directed by Kevin Pollak and starring Johnny Simmons, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons.
The movie, which is rated R, will premiere in Buffalo at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.). Tickets are $9.50. That will be followed by a book signing with Baker, whose "Man Made" memoir has been lightly updated and re-released as "The Late Bloomer."
This may be the rare chance to see the movie in Buffalo on the big screen — it's been released in a limited number of theaters and is also available on digital demand.
"The Buffalo premiere is something very special to me," Baker said. "It will be a chance to gather together a lot of family and friends – as well as supportive fans – in one place. It's also special because it is the only movie-related event where I will also be signing books for everyone, plus doing a Q&A session with fans who can ask me anything. Literally, they can ask about my book, the movie, or even Kim Kardashian. It will be a lively, no-holds-barred discussion!"
Heading into the re-release of the book and the premiere of the movie last month, Baker was nervous. When he wrote the original manuscript, he was in late 20s and not yet a television personality. Now he's famous, healthy and the married father of a 13-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. Having his deeply revealing book back on shelves, and seeing his life played out in a romantic comedy, made him doubly excited and nervous.
But Baker says it's worked out well.
"The Hollywood premiere was a very special moment," he said. "I have covered hundreds of events like that for my job, but this was the first time I got to be on the other side of the velvet rope and it was very neat. The public has been very sensitive to me and very respectful. I think that being so open about my health crisis and then being willing to let people laugh along with me is very disarming for people, and it's just been a very positive experience."