Same Names and the City: Dan Abrams, Bill Keller, David Chang (Not the Ones You Think!) Mess With Celebs’ Personal Brands

Which Dan Abrams is this? (Getty Images)

Which Dan Abrams is this? (Getty Images)

“Dan Abrams and I emailed a bit about possibly trading our Twitter handles,” said Dan Abrams, a writer/producer in New York, of an exchange with the ABC News analyst three years ago. “I probably would have—he was like, I’ll take you out to dinner. I wasn’t at a point where my name was a brand.” The more famous Mr. Abrams, whose Twitter account is @danielabrams, let the matter drop, which the less famous Mr. Abrams estimates he regrets. He wouldn’t make the switch now, though: “I’m making that transition from being behind the scenes to being, like, a person.”

In the age of personal branding, sharing a name with a famous person can be a boon. (Witness the upcoming summer reality show Same Name, in which civilians meet their celebrity namesakes.) Mr. Abrams takes pride in his un-Google-ability: “People can’t come across some stupid show I did. If my name was Rizzo Gulati, they might see something I’d done and not want to hire me.” Mr. Abrams hasn’t reaped the social benefits of sharing an identity, but the New York film critic David Edelstein gets invitations directed to the real-estate developer David Edelstein: “Recently, I received at my home an embossed patron invitation to some BAM gathering at a fancy Upper East Side residence,” Mr. Edelstein said via email. “I called BAM and they were horrified that the likes of me could almost have shown up at some hedge fund manager’s townhouse.”

Of course, the truly powerful need not be aware of their shared-name cohort. Bill Keller of The New York Times shares an identity with an evangelist—the second result on a Google of “Bill Keller” is for “Bill Keller Ministries” at LivePrayer.com. “Amazingly, given my evangelical charisma and general piety, I’ve never gotten one of his messages,” said the Times Magazine columnist via email. Perhaps the best coping mechanism is to come up with a canny, repeatable line. Could the high-society DJ David Chang be the same guy who makes our ramen? No, he told The Observer: “I mix beats, not meats!”

ddaddario@observer.com :: @DPD_