Alec Baldwin and MSNBC have agreed to part ways on his short-lived interview show “Up Late” following a controversy that erupted over the actor’s use of an anti-gay slur in an encounter with a photographer.
Sources close to the situation insist that Baldwin was not fired from the NBCU news cabler, but that the sides “mutually” agreed to end the show in light of the dust-up. An MSNBC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to queries seeking comment. MSNBC had suspended the program for two weeks, which meant it should have returned to the schedule this Friday at 10 p.m.
The New York Post was first to report Baldwin’s exit from the cabler.
The imbroglio centered on a remark the actor was overheard making when warding off photographers he felt were getting too close to his family after his appearance in a particularly sensitive court case involving a woman accused of stalking him. Baldwin later apologized for the remark on Twitter and on MSNBC’s website.
Baldwin’s program featured guests in one-on-one conversation with the actor, who has a long relationship with NBCUniversal via his tenure on “30 Rock,” which aired on the NBC broadcast network, and as a host multiple times on “Saturday Night Live.” The show’s premiere featured an hourlong interview with Bill de Blasio, just days before he was elected mayor of New York City.
While announcement of the program on MSNBC raised some eyebrows – Baldwin is not a journalist, and his support for liberal causes is well known – its ratings were not stellar. The most recent episode, broadcast November 8, reached 395,000 viewers overall, according to Nielsen data. Among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic preferred by advertisers in news programming, 101,000 tuned in. In contrast, the premiere of “Up Late” attracted 654,000 viewers overall and 172,000 between the ages of 25 to 54.
Prior to launching “Up Late,” MSNBC was running documentary-style programming under the rubric “MSNBC Investigates.”
The suspension does not mark the first time MSNBC has taken one of its personalities off the air. In 2010, MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann, then its best-known anchor, after discovering he had made political donations to three Democratic congressional candidates – an act that was said to be in violation of NBC News ethics policies. In the end, the suspension lasted just a handful of days.