Alec Baldwin Preps for Second Act as Politician with MSNBC Show

Commentary: TV gig is just the actor's way of getting a tabloid-wary public to see his serious side

His new MSNBC show may seem like just another gig in the illustrious career of Alec Baldwin, but this one could be a step toward the role of a lifetime: politician.

When “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” premieres Friday at 10 p.m., it will provide a very different showcase for a left-leaning actor who has publicly and repeatedly made clear he harbors ambitions far from Hollywood.

But while he’s declared no such intentions in the lead-up to his latest incarnation as cable-news talking head, “Up Late” would provide the perfect vehicle to transition him to politics. It’s a variation on a career move more often employed within politics, which has seen everyone from Pat Buchanan to Eliot Spitzer use TV as a platform preceding a candidacy of some kind.

While celebrities going as far back as Ronald Reagan have made such mid-life switch without a stint at a network news division, Baldwin is best making such a pit stop. As beloved as he is, the actor needs a forum that can put some distance between the Twitter-era tabloid tempest he’s become and the man he needs to be.

Which is what makes “Up Late” such a brilliant move for MSNBC: Given Baldwin has proven himself to be constitutionally incapable of staying out of trouble for too long, his consistent controversies will provide free publicity for a program that people will tune into just to see if he explodes on air, too.

Baldwin simply can’t contain himself. Just last week he directed a torrent of barbed tweets at fellow MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough, only to delete them shortly afterward.

If MSNBC chief Phil Griffin thought Keith Olbermann was a handful, what will he think of Baldwin? In addition to their penchant for liberal viewpoints, Baldwin has something else in common with the ESPN anchor: a reputation for irascibility and ill-advised public comments that can give employers’ heartburn. Griffin may want to hold onto any leftover antacids or pain relievers used to get through the Olbermann era.

And it wasn’t too long ago the “30 Rock” star used Twitter to issue a string of homophobic insults to British reporter George Stark, who suggested his wife was tweeting while in attendance at the funeral of James Gandolfini. Baldwin later explained that calling the reporter a “queen” and suggesting he would enjoy his foot in his rectum were not intended to allude to his sexual orientation.

The actor is no stranger to this kind of controversy when you think back to everything from his verbal fisticuffs with flight attendants who suggest he put his smartphone away to a voicemail putdown directed at his own daughter.

Amazingly, Baldwin has deflected all of this with a Teflon touch. But were he in the thick of an election, it would be a whole different story. So what better way for Baldwin to cast himself in the mold of a politician than to surround himself with the real thing.

As recently as January 2012, Baldwin spoke at length with CNN’s Piers Morgan about his political ambitions, going as far as to size up the opportunities to run for various offices in his native New York in the coming years. He’s made similar statements going back years.

Maybe that’s all just delusional ramblings that are standard for the narcissism necessary to succeed in Hollywood. And maybe “Up Late” should be dismissed as just another side project for a guy who moonlights almost as much as champion dilettante James Franco. But don’t be surprised when Baldwin gives up his day once he sees an opening to higher office.

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  1. sharinlite says:

    Why does Variety, one of the rate sites, think they would edit comments? Moderate? O.K., but no freedom of speech for us but only for Variety?

  2. sharinlite says:

    Just what America needs now, another joker in DC! Let’s just throw the bums out and start overf!!

  3. If the premise of the article is true, then his show should be called ‘Crash and Burn’.

  4. kc says:

    judging by the comments already, Ms. Baldwin doesn’t have a chance

  5. hdevo says:

    You got to be kidding me, he is a loose cannon

  6. WARREN NEUMANN says:

    I had a chuckle when you called Baldwin “beloved”. What planet are you from. He’s a pig!

  7. Rick Marschall says:

    Ronald Reagan made hundreds of political speeches before actually “entering politics,” that is, electoral campaigns. And before he ran for president in 1980, he was doing daily random commentary (editorials) for hundreds of AM radio stations, for several years. The closest thing to today’s talking-head cable news webs. Your article might also at least have mentioned the fact that Baldwin would actually have to tend to constituent concerns, potholes and welfare checks, and not just spout off. Elected office would be a joke. He’d be likely to throttle some constituent who annoyed him…

  8. butch Grant says:

    remember when he was pretty and talented? not just old drunk and bitter

  9. Tina Delgado says:

    Al Franken won by filing a series of post election lawsuits

  10. Tina Delgado says:

    His leftist lunacy should be funny though

  11. Flippy says:

    I think we saw his “serious side” when he called his daughter a “pig”

  12. playnicenow says:

    His young wife is Spanish-American. Youth and Spanish-speakers…two demographics he needs to win votes. And the soccer moms, he’s a new dad. Check.

  13. JJBarkley says:

    Baldwin is such a sick joke. Anyone with even one brain wouldn’t vote for that violent creep.

  14. Brad says:

    Who will be next? Pee Wee Herman? Maybe they can recruit that guy who played Al Bundy, he certainly has the skills.

  15. James Carson says:

    Minnesota elected Al Franken to the US Senate, and he made his pile by slinging insults. Why not Baldwin?

  16. Rico says:

    How will we know when Baldwin is acting and when he’s being a politician?

  17. Mike says:

    Baldwin running for political office…. Now that’s funny!

  18. potvin99 says:

    He’s just the kind of narcissistic ignoramus TV needs more of.

  19. They should team him up with Katie Couric so he can take out his pent up misogyny and shout “your a stupid little pig!” at her. That would be worth watching.

  20. JBee says:

    “As beloved as he is”? Are you kidding? According to whom? Your such a sycophant Wallenstein.

  21. Darrel says:

    So the gay bashing, photog attacking, who demeans and chastises his own daughter is getting a new gig? I cut up my Capital One cards due to this freakish nasty twit. Tell us what advertisers are backing this moron, so we can boycott their products.

  22. Mike says:

    Whatever he’s selling, I’m not buying. Worthless POS.

  23. With his temper—this’ll be fun.

  24. Larry Fyne says:

    This manic in politics shows it can’t get much worse.

  25. Dick Mullis says:

    It would be nice to see an obituary or that he is leaving for Russia.

  26. McBob79 says:

    No chance unless he runs in Minnesota or NY. I don’t even think Californians are stupid enough to elect this joker.

  27. cristo says:

    Andrew, you’re a comedy writer.

  28. skyway2ls says:

    Oh, Jesus Christ! That’s just what we need – another politician with absolutely no impulse control.

  29. Checkmate King Two says:

    If he wants to show us his “serious side”, perhaps he could replay that phone message in which he verbally abused his “pig” of a little girl.
    Or maybe he could do a reprise of those homophobic slurs he hurled.
    No, wait…how about a feature on “How to Make Up Your Own Rules When You’re Flying on a Commercial Airliner”?
    And when this ill-fated joke of a program holds its finale (which shouldn’t be but a few months), his last episode could be “How to Physically Bully a Paparazzi Who’s Smaller Than You Are.”
    Another self-important Hollywood gasbagger with delusions of greatness.
    You gotta wonder what kind of network would even consider providing this guy with a forum, but then again, this IS MSNBC, the same folks who bring us Sharpton, “Who?Ray”, and O’Donnell.
    This program will do wonders for their already-embarrassing audience numbers.

  30. Bruce Hood says:

    He will be the perfect politician…He already works for Capital One Credit Cards

  31. Dick Tracy says:

    Yuk-yuk. He’s no Arnie or Ronny.

  32. JF says:

    hahahahahahah! what a joke!

  33. Ranger450 says:

    Baldwin is a psycho. He is dangerous.

  34. Dave-0 says:

    I thought he left for Canada in 2000. What? He stayed here? Bummer.

  35. Tx Son says:

    Acting upon your final suggestion will certainly accomplish your prior suggestion.

  36. odinsacolyte says:

    Why do celebrities think they have a brain? Not a politician but he played one on TV. Come on!
    This is why we have a Constitutional crisis and a government that have made itself invalid by breaking the contract it made between itself and the citizens (the U.S. Constitution). Time to tear it down and build again. This time we apply term limits and intense salary limits. Take the money away and the crook won’t want to play. Perhaps every citizen should be obliged to spend x amount of time serving in government (a government draft). It would certainly educate everybody. Lord know what we have now under a tyranny of law is not going to work much longer. Limited government is the best government. Almost as good as no government at all (I wish). OH, and ban all lawyers from government.

    • Tx Son says:

      Restructuring and reducing the Federal government to that which the founding fathers established would solve most of the problems arising from our current bloated, overreaching Federal bureaucracy.

  37. Rick Z says:

    Alec Baldwin and Anthony Weiner — perfect together.

    Didn’t Alec promise to leave the US for Canada if George W. Bush won the Presidential election.
    Get packing, Allie-boy, Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200. Do not let the door hit your ass on the way out.

  38. Harry Balls says:

    Baldwin is a narcissistic bully.

  39. Eagle0541 says:

    Oh boy, another Hollywood empty head. Doesn’t MSNBC already have the worst ratings?. Re-runs of I Love Lucy are more popular than the angry, never watched MSNBC line up. Laughing stock of cable news.

  40. George says:

    Fix his clock – don’t watch his TV, cancel your Capital One card, and just ignore whatever movies he is in.

  41. josetoyou says:

    God help us… We don’t need another incompetent numb-nut character in our government…

  42. hell, if al Sharpton can get a tv show with his record of inciting riots that caused deaths and constant stream of racist hate talk. why not a clown that insults his wife and daughter publicly. and don’t forget how he likes to beat up on reporters for the slightest reason

  43. DivaNYC says:

    According to a report this afternoon, Alec Baldwin shocked his dinner guests last night when he called his new baby a “dirty little whore.” Looks like he’s the perfect political candidate. http://goo.gl/BlFYFh

  44. Haywood_Jablomi says:

    Alex, you will need more than your 132 views to win an election.

  45. We don’t need another comedian in Washington, we already have plenty. None of them are very funny either.

  46. LOL says:

    Do you like hostile alcoholics that beat their wives?

    I know I do!

    That is why I am voting for Alec Baldwin in 2016.

    Will you?

  47. James Bernard says:

    WOW, just what we need, another emotionally charged overreactive Liberal actor in politics. MSNBC (mess NBC) ratings are “in the tank” already and with Baldwin added, could possibly reduce progamming
    to a 24 hour a day “test pattern”.

  48. Johnny says:

    Hahaaaa a real tough guy 5’11! He always picks fights with the 5 footer crowd. His middle name is Dick, appropriate wouldn’t you agree?

  49. Carlos Danger says:

    He hates gays, and given waht he said to his daughter he’s not wild about women either. Has a photographer problem as well. Oh well, he’s famous and cleans up nice, plus he’s liberal. He’ll make a fine vice president.

  50. Let him run and then let his opponent remind everyone what a loose cannon he is, not to mention a loser with an anger management issue. I’m sure whoever his opponent is, they will use all the videos, news articles and interviews to remind voters what a nut case he is. And on MSNBC, his ratings will be lower than Sharpton’s which will be good for Sharpton.

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