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The Story of Kramer vs. Kramer : He's the city councilman . . . or maybe the journalist . . . or the lawyer or TV executive. Or maybe he's all of the above--but not the same guy. Confused? So's he.


What's in a name?

In this case, a whole lot of confusion.

Last week, Jeff Kramer, the new Malibu city councilman, called me, Jeff Kramer, The Times' new Malibu reporter, to talk about this bizarre business of sharing the same name.

As it was, I was away from my desk having an identity crisis, but I got back to him in short order.

"Hi, Jeff," I said. "This is Jeff Kramer."

Per custom, we chuckled over what has turned into a tiresome irony, but this time Jeff was somewhat serious.

"This is really getting ridiculous," he said. "I was wondering if. . ."

Basically, Jeff was wondering if there wasn't some way that my stories in The Times could be accompanied by a disclaimer explaining that I am me and he is he and we are not together.

It didn't appear to be anything personal. After all, having the same name as a journalist isn't the worst thing in the world--a point Jeff acknowledged.

"If you were being indicted for some crime, I might feel more strongly about it," he admitted.

Still, Jeff felt strongly enough, and with good reason.

He's getting tired of explaining to people that he doesn't cover the same City Council on which he serves.

He's also tired of people commenting to him about my articles as if he wrote them--although he insisted most of the remarks tend toward the positive.

"You're getting good reviews," he told me. "It's not that people are complaining to me."

Actually, Jeff added, a lot of people seem to think Jeff must be some kind of Superman who, at age 41, manages to effortlessly juggle his Century City law practice and council responsibilities with his duties as a Times staff writer.

It would all be fairly amusing if it wasn't for the fact that Jeff has been through this before--many times.

For starters, he's not the only Jeff Kramer practicing law on the Westside. He frequently gets calls intended for attorney Jeffrey S. Kramer on Wilshire Boulevard. (Council member Kramer's middle initial is "W"; mine's "M.")

There's also another Jeff Kramer in Malibu--TV executive and former actor Jeffrey C. Kramer, whose acting credits include "Jaws" and "Jaws II."

Then there's the matter of Jeff's wife and his neighbor. Both are named Sherri Kramer, a discovery Jeff and his wife made when they started getting the other Sherri Kramer's florist bills.

"I have been plagued," Jeff said simply.

And so it has been, even as far back as high school, when one of Jeff's classmates, a Jeffrey Samuelson, was adopted and had his named changed to--surprise!--Jeffrey Kramer.

Naturally, the kid was one of the more notorious troublemakers in the school. "I got hauled into the principal's office one day for a series of misdeeds he had committed," Jeff recalled.

Years later, when Jeff moved to Los Angeles after graduating from law school, he found himself grappling with the apparent misconduct of yet another Jeff Kramer--this one most definitely not yours truly.

"I kept getting (calls from) women that were trying to track him down," Jeff said. "Some of them wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. . . . I think he must live a more exciting life than I do."

Perhaps more exciting, but no less confusing.

Which is why it's time to sort this out once and for all.

From now on I'll refer to Jeff in my stories as Councilman Jeff W. Kramer.

If that doesn't work, I might consider changing my byline from Jeff Kramer to Jeff M. Kramer or possibly to Jeffrey M. Kramer or maybe even to Jeffrey Michael Kramer, which--now that I think about it--has a faintly sophisticated, pretentious ring that might contrast nicely with my wardrobe.

What if people are still getting us confused after all that?

I guess I'll just move to Malibu and run for the City Council.

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