By macleans.ca - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
NEW YORK: Actor Alec Baldwin has had another unfortunate run-in with the media.
NEW YORK: Actor Alec Baldwin has had another unfortunate run-in with the media.
After the incident on Monday involving both a New York Post photographer and reporter, the photographer and Baldwin, 54, went to the police to file harassment charges against the other.
The subsequent New York Post article, called ‘Alec fast & slur-ious’, reports that Baldwin “called a black Post photographer a racial epithet, a “crackhead” and a “drug dealer” during a confrontation on an East Village street yesterday morning, prompting police to intervene.”
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, July 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
Oliver Stone and Woody Allen, two of America’s most durable auteurs, hail from opposite ends of American cinema. Stone makes heavyweight (and sometimes heavy-handed) studio pictures that use visceral images to punch home blunt convictions about power and money; Allen tosses off bantam-weight indie comedies about love and angst, harnessing high-pedigree actors, and (lately) European financing and locations. Stone has a taste for muscular melodramas powered by dark conspiratorial forces; Allen spins conspiracies of the neurotic imagination into breezy confections of romance and farce. Stone is known to bully his actors and his audience; Allen is notorious for ignoring both.
Their new movies offer wildly different escapades into foreign worlds. Turbo-charged with sex, drugs and violence, Stone’s Savages takes us into the cloak-and-doobie intrigue of high-living California pot growers who go to war against a Mexican cartel. Allen’s To Rome with Love is a whimsical omnibus of unconnected stories set against postcard vistas of the Eternal City. Each movie is stylishly entertaining in its own right, but neither is convincing. Savages slip-slides into soap opera, and To Rome With Love surrenders to aimless farce.
Adapted from Don Winslow’s best-selling novel, Savages is a lusty joyride that feels more like a movie by Michael Mann or Quentin Tarantino than a typical Oliver Stone extravaganza. Sure, the gusto with which Stone embraces sex, drugs and rock’n'roll is reminiscent of Natural Born Killers—and reminds us this is the guy who wrote Brian De Palma’s Scarface—but the buzz feels bogus and the grit doesn’t ring true. Although Stone had a hand in the screenplay, Winslow adapted his own novel. Like the book, which reads like a movie, it portrays the marijuana biz, and the cartels, with a speedball change-up of authentic detail and pulp fantasy. Savages is Oliver Stone’s California vacation. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, July 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
The neurotic New Yorker travels out of his time zone and enjoys new-found success
Another year, another holiday picture from Woody Allen. To Rome With Love, the 42nd movie he has directed, arrives with the reassuring predictability of a postcard sent from an old relative on an annual cruise. But it also features Allen’s first screen appearance since Scoop (2006) in a hammy supporting role as Jerry, a retired opera director visiting his daughter in Italy. Like an old rocker playing his hits, Woody indulges in a septuagenarian send-up of his classic nebbish persona. We ﬁrst see him as an apoplectic, white-knuckled flyer, bracing himself for imminent death as his flight to Rome hits a spot of turbulence. These days, however, that image could not be further from the truth. After shooting eight movies in Europe, the artist formerly known as Manhattan’s neurotic agoraphobe is now the happy tourist auteur.
Allen’s role as a filmmaker-in-exile was born of necessity. As U.S. financing for his films dried up, he found fresh patronage from producers in Europe, where his films consistently do better than in North America. Leaving New York to film in foreign capitals has boosted Woody’s career like a hit of Viagra. Match Point (2005), the first of three movies filmed in London, was his biggest success in two decades; the director, usually his own worst critic, called it his best movie. Since then, he scored a bull’s eye with Vicky Cristina Barcelona, matching Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem as ﬁery Latin lovers. And last year’s Oscar-winning reverie, Midnight in Paris, became his top-grossing film, displacing Hannah and Her Sisters with a worldwide take of $150 million.
Allen, 76, may have made his name with misanthropic wit, but his recent work is suffused with romance and whimsy. He’s developed a formula: young Americans visiting a European city fall in and out of love, tumbling through rabbit-hole intrigues with the locals, while the ultimate object of desire is the city itself, lushly photographed from all its best angles. Each movie becomes a valentine to its charismatic location, and to the passing parade of talent that catches the director’s eye—from Scarlett Johansson to Canadians Ellen Page and Alison Pill, who both star in To Rome With Love. “There’s a whole new generation that’s discovered Woody Allen,” says Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, his U.S. distributor. “Now it’s not just the older Jewish Upper West Side audience. A month into the release of Midnight in Paris, it was a teenage and twentysomething date movie.”
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 6:57 AM - 0 Comments
Movies are taken super-seriously in Cannes. But there’s more to Cannes than movies. Sure, its red staircase is world cinema’s high altar, where auteurs are treated like stars and stars are treated like gods. But Cannes is also Hollywood’s royal court on the Riviera, a circus of deals and drinks and absurdly fancy dinners–a gilded bubble where the film industry’s delusions of grandeur actually seem to hold up. In Los Angeles, Hollywood doesn’t really exist. It’s just a myth, and a tawdry tourist district in L.A. America’s acme of Hollywood glamour is the Oscars, which is basically a TV show. But Cannes is a movie, a location epic in a fairy-tale setting with a cast of thousands—from the crazy French film fans who jam the Croisette to the festival’s horde of 4,000 journalists. That’s why the stars love to come here. Cannes is the Magic Kingdom where the Hollywood dream is briefly made flesh.
The movie industry’s usual hierarchy is inverted. While high-pedigree art takes pride of place in the festival’s competition, the big studios serve up the sideshow—with movies premiering safely out of competition (Madagascar 3) and publicity stunts for blockbusters. On opening day, a mob of photographers paid homage to The Dictator‘s General Aladeen (aka Sacha Baron Cohen) as he fell off the back of a camel at the entrance of the Carlton Hotel, flanked by two machine-gun-toting babes. Meanwhile, just a block away Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine and Isla Fisher tub-thumped for the animated blockbuster Rise of the Guardians, along with director Peter Ramsey and DreamWorks boss Jeffrey Katzenberg. The movie doesn’t open until Nov. 22, but it’s never too early to jump-start the hype. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen, Nicholas Kohler, Jason Kirby and Nancy MacDonald - Monday, July 4, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
Michelle Obama visits Soweto, the world’s richest divorcée goes broke, and tennis’s grunting gals get called out
Hollywood’s high rollers
His day job is playing such film roles as Spiderman and Nick Carraway, in the upcoming Great Gatsby adaptation. But incredible as it may seem, Tobey Maguire’s hobby—high-stakes poker—may be even more lucrative than the silver screen. Maguire’s winnings, which could amount to as much as $30 to $40 million over three years, came to light in a lawsuit filed against the 35-year-old actor by a group of investors attempting to recoup money lost to Brad Ruderman, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for operating a $5.2-million Ponzi scheme. Ruderman lost much of the money playing Texas Hold ’em, including over $300,000 to Maguire, in an exclusive poker ring that drew players like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Now, Ruderman’s investors want some of that cash. DiCaprio, Affleck and Damon aren’t being sued, though. “Matt never won,” a whistle-blower said.
One for the lads
As contingencies go, this one was a doozy. David Hart, a 23-year-old Royal Marine killed by a bomb blast in Afghanistan last year, earmarked $160,000 from his life insurance policy for an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for his best friends and their girlfriends—32 people in all. “In a letter, David said he had had a great life and had no regrets about anything,” one friend told a reporter. “He said, ‘Go and have a good time and spend all this money.’ ” He left a second portion to his family, and the rest to charity. Hart, who died a day short of his 24th birthday, had always dreamed of a Vegas weekend. When his pals return to England they will continue training for a 275-km bike ride to raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust.
Stick with a bike
The 911 call to police in Caseville, Mich., went something like this: “Believe it or not, I just passed about a five-, six-year-old flying down the road with a red Pontiac Sunbird.” Actually, Chief Jamie Learman discovered that the driver, who stood on the floorboard of his stepfather’s car to see over the steering wheel, was a pyjama-clad seven-year-old. He hit speeds of 80 kph during a 32-km drive across Huron County, north of Detroit. Police gingerly boxed him in, stopping him without incident. “He was crying, and just kept saying he wanted to go to his dad’s,” Learman said. “That was pretty much it: he just wanted to go to his dad’s.”
Quit that racquet!
There are tasks where a grunt or two are justified. Piano moving or childbirth come to mind. But tennis? It’s all a bit much, says Ian Richie, head of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. “Whether you are watching it on TV or here, people don’t particularly like it,” he told Britain’s Telegraph, with precisely the sort of understatement he’d like to see on Wimbledon’s grass courts. Jimmy Connors was a pioneering grunter back in the 1970s. Women then took it up with great enthusiasm. Maria Sharapova was recorded at 105 decibels in 2009—as loud as a car horn from three feet. Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito and Serena Williams have also employed the tactic as a weapon of mass distraction. Richie has made his concerns known, but certain fans find the sound effects appealing. Former Wimbledon Champ Michael Stich accuses the women of trying to “sell sex.”
Think a weakness for sexy social networking, à la Anthony Weiner, is a purely American failing? Turns out the language of <3 knows no borders. Xie Zhiqiang, a health bureau official in the Chinese city of Liyang, set up an account with Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China, early this year believing it was a private chat tool. “Please marry me if there is a second life, so that we can live in romance until we are 100 years old,” he wrote to a married woman on the site before the pair were able to follow through on a planned tryst. Xie learned of the mistake after a reporter called about the exchange. “How can you view our messages on Weibo? It is impossible, isn’t it?” He has since been suspended from his job.
For more than a half-decade, she has been the face of Canadian women’s soccer—though perhaps never more so than now. Christine Sinclair wrote herself into the country’s sports lore for refusing to leave the field after her nose was broken in the opening game of the women’s World Cup at Berlin’s Olympiastadion. “You can’t play on,” Canada’s team doctor, Pietro Braina told her, trying to corral her onto the bench. But the Canadian captain turned, teary-eyed to Italian-born coach Carolina Morace who shrugged, palms up, and nodded to the field. Sinclair, of course, went on to score Canada’s lone goal, on a beautifully executed free kick in the dying minutes of the gutsy 2-1 loss—the first goal the two-time defending champion Germans have allowed since 2003. Sinclair, after having her nose resculpted by a German doctor, took to Twitter to opine on the new appendage: “amazing,” she wrote—joking, of course.
How to lose a billion dollars
It takes a lot to go from “the wealthiest divorcée in history” to bust in two decades—a lot of waste, that is. Patricia Kluge landed a $1-billion settlement when she split from media mogul John Kluge in 1990, only to blow the lot on parties for royalty, a 120-hectare estate in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains and a private winery. Kluge and her third husband, William Moses, have racked up $46 million in debt and ﬁled for bankruptcy last week. Her antiques, and her personal jewellery collection have already been auctioned off, and the Kluge winery was sold at auction—to none other than Donald Trump, her old friend, for $6.2 million. But Kluge isn’t the only one exiting the billionaire club. Research in Motion’s co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis lost their status after a sharp drop in RIM’s share price cut their personal net worth to around $800 million each, down from $1.8 billion in March.
The Doc returns
After 12 years on the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, star pitcher Roy Halladay is set, this week, to make his long-awaited return to the mound at Rogers Centre, where he earned both a reputation and a nickname. The two-time Cy Young winner, Toronto’s first pick at the ’95 draft, was set to pitch against the Jays last year, but security concerns around the G20 summit forced the series to be shifted to Philadelphia instead. “Doc,” as he’s known around the league, was calm before the game: “I feel like it’s any other start.”
Tears of joy
“Alec! Now we can get married!” Steve Martin tweeted to his Oscar co-host, after New York legalized gay marriage in the state. “Ok,” Alec Baldwin responded, “but if you play that efﬁng banjo after eleven o’clock…” Lady Gaga, meanwhile, was a bit more emotional: “I can’t stop crying,” said the staunch gay-rights activist. “We did it kids. The revolution is ours to fight.”
Life out of office
It was a good week for Gordon Campbell, who is off to London as Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K.; the plum posting comes with a chauffeur, a chef and an official residence in swank Mayfair. In London, the former B.C. premier, who always resisted the temptation to bash the feds, will further hone his diplomatic skills among royals and the global elite. Gilles Duceppe, an Ottawa basher par excellence, had a big week too, granting his first televised interview since the Bloc’s stunning collapse in the last federal election. Unless Quebecers choose sovereignty, they’ll be “eating gumbo” in 50 years, he told Radio-Canada. He went on to hint at a return to politics, likely at the helm of the PQ, which appears to be imploding, a mere two months after the Bloc. He may well return to helm a sovereignist party, but the better question may be whether anyone will still be interested in the idea.
No medal for the penguin?
Dozer, a three-year-old goldendoodle from Fulton, Md., now merits his own runner’s page on the Maryland Half Marathon website, after escaping his masters Sunday and running the race. He crossed the finish line at the 2:12:24 mark, limping and exhausted, and received a medal from organizers after they discovered he was running solo. Truth is, Dozer probably slipped into the run several miles into the event. Far more impressive is the emperor penguin who swam an astonishing 4,000 km from Antarctica to New Zealand. Happy Feet, as he was nicknamed, was operated on at the Wellington Zoo to remove the stick and pebbles he’d eaten on Peka Peka beach. A committee has been struck to decide whether he should be returned home.
Building ships, and political futures
After a week in Ottawa spent championing the province’s bid for part of an estimated $35 billion in federal shipbuilding contracts, B.C. premier Christy Clark returned home to announce a major investment in a new marine trade training facility on Vancouver Island, sweetening the pot. If successful, the contract, which could create thousands of new jobs and raise millions in spinoffs, could also help Clark in a possible fall election, which could come as early as September.
Returning the warm embrace
Michelle Obama was hailed as a queen in her first solo trip to Africa this week. There, the U.S. First Lady spoke passionately to students, danced with African youth, met with Nelson Mandela and even squeezed in a dinner with her gal-pal Oprah Winfrey, a queen in her own right.
By Brian D. Johnson - Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 7:09 PM - 23 Comments
7:08 p.m. Let the Games begin. As in Vancouver, we’re rooting for the Canadians. Which means King of the World (aka James Cameron), Jason Reitman and Ivan Reitman (director and producer of Up in the Air). And the two men behind District 9, writer-director Neill Blomkamp and co-writer Terri Tatchell.
Watching Ben Mulroney on the red carpet. Mo’Nique has just called him “brother.” Ben, you can take that to the bank. Jason Reitman has his soundbite down to a weary koan. On Up In the Air: “It’s a movie about family and it was made by a family.”
James Cameron talking to Ben about his rival, and ex-wife: “Kathryn has done a number of small films. She doesn’t play the Hollywood game.” And on the results tonight: “The tea leaves tell me that it’s going her way.”
7:13 pm: Barbara Walters’ Special. Her last special. OMG. Mo’Nique has just finished talking about the frictional specifics of being abused by her brother, and now she’s leaving Barbara Walters slack jawed by talking about how sex outside of her marriage is not a deal breaker. Next the camera moves in for a close-up of her hairy legs, as she delivers defence thereof.
7: 32 pm: We’re flicking between Barbara Wawa and Ben collaring Hollywood royalty. Ben asks George Clooney whether he gets more mileage out of an Oscar or being People’s Sexiest Man Alive. George says being sexy goes further. Ben, morphing into crazed fan, lunges at Meryl Streep as she sashays by, and she pats his microphone maternally. Media version of an air kiss. Or a polite way of saying, “Get lost.”
7:57 pm: This live blog, by the way, is coming to you from Helga Stephenson’s annual Oscar party. Helga is a former director of TIFF, chair of the recent Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and a global among cinephiles. Her annual Oscar soiree is always a blast. But I feel like a freak: typing at a party while watching television is perverse. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 12:12 PM - 4 Comments
For BDJ’s live blog of the Oscars, go to LIVE BLOG….
Oscar Sunday! I know it’s not as big as Super Bowl Sunday. And after the Winter Olympics, it’s pretty hard to get into the mood for another Epic TV Event, especially one with no sports—only opening and closing ceremonies. But with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin at the helm (will the opening monologue become an opening dialogue?), tonight’s show should be good for a few laughs. Anticipating the Oscars, of course, is always more exciting than enduring them. But given the David-and-Goliath duel between Avatar and Hurt Locker, and their ex-spouse directors, there’s a nifty element of drama. And if we’re lucky, there may even be the odd wardrobe malfunction. I’ll be live-blogging the Oscars tonight, starting at 7 p.m. So for those of you who get a charge of multitasking—surfing the web while watching TV, tweeting, and shoveling nachos—consider this an opportunity. I thought of live-blogging the show from home, but that that seemed too depressing and studious. So to raise the bar, so to speak, I’ll be typing from a crowded Oscar party, trying not to spill my drink on my laptop, while abstaining from that ongoing war between those who want to talk at the screen and those who want to watch in reverent silence, afraid they’ll miss something.
For the record, I’m about to trot out my predictions. But don’t consider this a cheat sheet for your Oscar party pool, because I’m not going to weigh in on the marginal categories (none of us have a clue, really). And I have never won an Oscar pool in my life. However, I will predict that, at some point in the evening, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will wear 3-glasses and speak Na’vi. Jeff Bridges will not wear a conventional tuxedo. Mo’Nique will give an inspirational acceptance speech that will make make us wonder what drug she’s on and where can we get some? Jim Cameron will still have the same bad non-haircut. There will be a photo opportunity in which he kisses his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow. On the red carpet, Brangelina will deserve an honorary Oscar for Performance by a Pretend Couple. And the person who receives the Oscar for best documentary short will give the longest and most tedious speech.
As for the awards, here are my votes on who will win, and should win, the major categories:
Because there are 10 nominees this year, and there’s a wacky new preferential voting system that allows second and third choices to vault into the running on ballots whose first choices have been eliminated (you still with me?), anything could happen. I think Avatar will win—and should win, not because it’s a perfect film, but because it’s a humongous accomplishment, and it has brought magic back to the tired world of Hollywood spectacle. But I wouldn’t want to put money on this one. Hurt Locker ‘s slingshot has momentum and may well carry the day.
Kathryn Bigelow will win for Hurt Locker for the same reason that Avatar should win Best Picture: she’s making history, and Oscar loves history. Bigelow won who the Directors Guild prize, a reliable bellwether, and if she wins tonight she’ll become the first female director to win an Oscar. Continue…
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
The year’s winners
From afar, the six-foot-five sprinter towers above his rivals as though his real trick is to cheat perspective—he looms larger because he’s already closer to the finish. At 23 he has won 25 consecutive races in two years. In August at the Berlin world championships he broke his own records in the 100- and 200-m races, a repeat of his dual golds at the Beijing Games; his part in winning a third for Jamaica in the 4 x 100-m sprint relay made it a hat trick.
Surely, when Stephen Harper crooned a little Ringo this fall, he was channelling the spirit of a frumpy Scottish lady—too old and too unkissed to be called a lass—whose appearance on Britain’s Got Talent cast us all in the role of hidden understudy or unpolished diva, capable of reducing a mob to tears. Boyle’s careening rise, with its uncertain makeovers and tantrums, has yet to eclipse that first magic shock.
Partway through the second period of game seven, Crosby finds himself crumpled against the boards after a hit from Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. In pain, he hobbles into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ dressing room, but is back before the night’s done to lift the Stanley Cup above his head—at 21 the youngest NHL captain ever to do so, and just four years after arriving as the No. 1 selection in the draft. Nuff said.
Despite its oddly adult opening sequence—which follows Carl and Ellie Fredricksen from kiddie courtship to dotage and on to death—the animated film Up did gangbusters at the box office, making it Pixar’s 10th consecutive film to break US$100 million. Off-screen, too, it was good to be a geezer. The over-60 set learned it needn’t worry about H1N1 due to a youthful exposure to something similar. Paul Anka awoke at 68 to hear This is It, a tune he’d written with Michael Jackson years ago, on the radio, and earned a mint for his troubles. Willard Boyle of Halifax won a Nobel for physics at 85, for work put to bed 40 years ago, and McGill neuroscientist Brenda Milner a $1-million prize for her work on memory—at 91. Dame Vera Lynn, whose WWII anthem We’ll Meet Again we know from Dr. Strangelove, hit No. 1 in the U.K. with a greatest hits CD.
It wasn’t just that his new CD, Crazy Love, shot to No. 1 within days of its release; at 34, Bublé suddenly seemed comfortable being Bublé. The crooner had tired of being the big-band throwback mums and daughters love: the squeaky-clean routine didn’t fit with a lady-killer who likes a drink and may well Bublé your joint (to coin a phrase). He admits to the illicit fun-making now, and fans seem to love him no less.
Japan’s Democratic party
After nearly 54 years of rule by the Liberal Democratic Party, the notoriously cautious Japanese voter decided in August to try something different and cast a ballot for the Democratic party. The landslide made Yukio Hatoyama PM, a moment Barack Obama recently called a “political earthquake,” even if it did little to fix a Japanese economy still burdened by a recession that took hold in the 1990s.
In the early 1970s, Bette Midler emerged from the bathhouses of New York with a stage show in which the outrageous costumes and setpieces were as important as the music. Strip away Midler’s irony and sense of fun and you get Gaga, a 23-year-old Yonkers gal who’s sold over four million copies of her debut, The Fame, and 20 million digital singles. If she wears bits of fly screen on her fingernails, she still sounds refreshingly expert singing solo from behind a piano.
At 37, he’s a little longue dans le dent to be up for his second straight MVP nod. Quarterback Calvillo, a 14-year CFL vet, was also among nine Montreal Alouettes named to the league’s all-star squad, and his 26 touchdown passes were tops. In July he let fly the 335th scoring pass of his career, shifting him into second. He came in third in passing and only tossed out six interceptions in 550 attempts.
Even as cost-cutting continues to gut investigative journalism, Jerry Mitchell, a reporter with the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., is a wonderful anomaly. Over 20 years, his work to probe civil-rights era killings has put four Klansmen in prison, including Byron De La Beckwith, convicted in the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers. This fall he won a US$500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”; he plans to continue his reporting.
In a series of Vanity Fair photographs featuring Hamm with his so-beautiful-it-hurts Mad Men co-star January Jones, Annie Leibovitz presented a fairy-tale creature whose veins run with ink from the Harlequin presses. But it was his turn on 30 Rock as Tina Fey’s fling, Dr. Drew Baird, that convinced the hitherto unimpressed. That self-deprecating take on a man so handsome he’s oblivious to his shortcomings led to one of two Emmy nominations—the other was for Mad Men.
The social networking site Facebook changed the way it handles personal data provided by users all over the world, in part due to a report issued by federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart blasting Facebook for violating Canadian privacy law. Among other things, it will make it clearer how to delete accounts and to choose what personal info is sent to third parties.
Though released late last year, Beyoncé’s video for Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), settled into being the secret heart of 2009. It was the one Kanye West felt should have won over Taylor Swift’s You Belong to Me. It became the subject of countless YouTube homages, creating the first dance craze of the 21st century. Greeting Beyoncé in January, Barack Obama flapped his hand in glorious Ring on It mimicry. With the grace of a balletic giraffe, Beyoncé demonstrated her infinite self-possession.
In flowing golden robes and trademark sunglasses, flanked by seven “traditional kings of Africa,” Gadhafi arrived in Addis Ababa in February to assume the leadership of the African Union. His ascendency was not without controversy. Gadhafi waited until 2003 to renounce terrorism and appeared to want the leadership merely to help propel Libya from the shadows of international isolation. Next stop . . . Mugabe?
Who said there are no second acts in American lives? F. Scott, meet Alec Baldwin, the leading man-turned-celebrity-divorcé-turned-awful-voice-mail-dad, whose role on 30 Rock spawned a comeback. This year he’s earned an Emmy, starred alongside Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated as a man cheating on a trophy wife with his aging ex, and was named co-host (with Steve Martin) of the 2010 Oscars. Alec, grab that winning streak and start marketing Schweddy Balls—now.
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:06 PM - 2 Comments
The Oscars really are on a retro kick. First they reinstate the old practice of having 10 Best Picture nominees, and now they’re going to have more than one host for the first time in years. If the team of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin works out well for them, who knows? We might see them go back to having three or more hosts like they’ve had some years. The last time they didn’t use one single host was 1987, when the show was hosted by Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, and Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan. It was a different time.
Part of the theory behind this is that one person who might not be strong enough to carry the show as a host might do well when teamed up with someone else. Martin did all right as a solo host, but even then he had exhausted much of his cool cred, and now he is solidly established as a star of terrible movies. He seems to be most effective when paired up with someone good, and Baldwin is certainly good; also, being on 30 Rock, Baldwin may be a bigger name than Martin for a younger audience.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 0 Comments
The star of ‘30 Rock’ has turned that infamous phone call into an opportunity to create a kinder, gentler image
Alec Baldwin is the world’s most adorable selfish monomaniac—at least on television. Off-screen, he’s saner but less lovable, and he’s hoping to change that. Last year, it looked like his less-than-beloved off-screen persona might overshadow his onscreen career in a Michael Richards type of way: everybody with an Internet connection or a radio heard the instantly legendary tape of a voice mail he left for his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, in which he called her “a rude, thoughtless little pig” for not answering his phone calls. Instead, he’s a newly successful actor who just won an Emmy for 30 Rock, a show whose low ratings haven’t stopped it from being picked up for a third season (premiering on Oct. 30). He’s even turned pig-gate into an opportunity to create a kinder, gentler public image: he gave a humble and uncontroversial Emmy acceptance speech, a New Yorker profile tried to make us sympathize with the pressure he’s been under, and he has a new book out, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce, in which he shares his pain over his much-publicized custody battle with Ireland’s mother, actress and former Batman girlfriend Kim Basinger. The book’s villains include Basinger, a female judge (“with her customary lack of insight into parental alienation”), a female lawyer (“dressed in a garish, Dolly Levi hat”), a female therapist (“like most of the other drones inside the system”), plus the people from TMZ.com who posted that voice-mail message in the first place. On television, in movies, in magazines, and now in books, Alec Baldwin wants us to know that he rants and raves because he has a heart of gold, just like that guy he plays on TV.
We’re all so used to the image of Alec Baldwin as a big, intense, growly voiced man saying horrible things at top speed that it’s almost shocking to remember how many years he spent as a more or less conventional leading man. He was the first person to play Tom Clancy’s all-American hero Jack Ryan (in The Hunt for Red October). But when it came time to make the next Jack Ryan movie, Patriot Games, the part was recast with Harrison Ford. Baldwin claimed that this was because he chose to do a Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire instead, but since the studio only got Baldwin in the first place after Ford turned them down, they probably weren’t too depressed. After that, he seemed to squander his early promise by starring in movies like The Shadow, about a nearly forgotten radio character whose main ability was to make himself invisible (because nothing makes a star like not being seen), or his self-directed remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster with Jennifer Love Hewitt as the devil; Hewitt called him “the best director I’ve ever worked with,” and she works with luminaries of the cinematic art every single week on Ghost Whisperer. But the movie wasn’t released until three years after it was made. By the early part of this decade, Baldwin was known not so much as an actor as part of an acting family; he and his brothers, Stephen, Daniel and William, were like taller versions of the Estevez brothers. Yes, he had that one scene in Glengarry Glen Ross, giving a motivational pep talk that consisted entirely of threats, insults and swear words. But that was only one scene. As an actor, he was that guy who did the one good scene, made a lot of flop movies and hosted Saturday Night Live almost as often as Tom Hanks. But that was before Jack Donaghy.