"Lots of times I'm introduced as Jayne Kennedy's husband," says Leon Isaac Kennedy, who is Jayne Kennedy's husband.
"And that irritates me, because I've done so many things . . . But she's out in front of the camera, and she's a beautiful woman, so I live with it.
"I'm proud of her. I think this is an important statement for a married couple: We're a team no matter what."
The team will have its next huddle today in Detroit, where Leon, 30, will be promoting his new movie, "Penitentiary," and Jayne, 27, -- who replaced Phyllis George last year on CBS's "The NFL Today" -- will be doing a Thanksgiving football broadcast. "People ask when do we meet," says Kennedy. "I say, 'We meet when it is important. We meet at night.'"
In "Penitentiary," the former disc jockey at Washington's WOOK plays a prison boxer. "I literally fight my way out of prison," he says. "This is a realistic look at life in prison. The movie is so realistic that after you've seen it you won't even want to jaywalk."
Physically, Kennedy would be a natural for a movie about Sugar Ray Leonard. But the boxer he plays in "Penitentiary" is a light heavyweight. With all diplomacy, he is asked, Isn't that a few levels out of his class? Well, yes, says Kennedy, "but that's part of the story. He has to fight somebody that's like 50 pounds heavier than he is."
In a prison situation, he says, "you have to negotiate a lot of things. Somebody like me would have to negotiate to keep his manhood. You've got to bargain for dope. You've got to bargain for cigarettes. Everything.
"My character 'Too Sweet Gordone', is a mysterious person -- almost a Clint Eastwood type. But he's the type of person that every man would like to be like. If you were thrown into this kind of situation, you'd hope you could handle it the way he does."
Kennedy says he trained by doing 200 push-ups and 500 sit-ups each day, plus running seven miles. "I did the same things Carl Weathers did for 'Rocky,'" he says.
He says it is a role that called for the talents of three different performers -- "You needed Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali and Robert DeNiro."
Kennedy may sound like a cocky fellow. Compared to what his official press biography says about him, however, his own comments reek of humility. "Of all Hollywood's leading young men," proclaims the biography, "some would have been able to pull off the acting, and others the fighting [for 'Penitentiary'], but very few could have successfully blended the two, and have the toned, muscled body to match. . . . [Kennedy] has the looks, the charisma and the talent to go all the way."
Originally from Cleveland, he spent several years in Washington, doing triple duty as a Howard undergraduate -- majoring in speech and drama -- as a disc jockey known as "Leon the Lover," and as the host of "Teen-o-Rama" on Channel 14. Then he returned to Cleveland and met and married Jayne -- who had just become the first black woman to be crowned Miss Ohio.
The two moved to Los Angeles in 1971. While Jayne concentrated on acting, Leon branched out into writing and producing.
"I pushed her to be in front of the camera more," he says. "It didn't make any sense for two people to sit by the telephone waiting for a job. And I wasn't willing to starve to death while waiting for it to happen. That's why I was still working as a disc jockey."
Jayne Kennedy's career has taken off since her "NFL Today" job, but Leon's is not far behind. He has appeared in "CHiPs" and "Eischeid" on TV, a current movie called "Death Force" and the upcoming "The AllAmerican-Girl Robbery." He is also the co-author and co-producer of "My Buddy," a pilot for a possible series with Redd Foxx. His next project is a love story in which he will star with his wife.
They tend to each other's careers, says Kennedy. "In 'Penitentiary," she came down every day she was in town. She was like my third eye. She rehearsed me in scenes. By the same token, I'm the one who makes the deals for her. I'm the one that read that Phyllis George was leaving. I'm the one that said we should go after this.
"And every Sunday I tape her performance, and when she flies back I have a list of things that she did well and things she should do better."