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. Tim Dean says:

    Homophobe.

  2. Donald says:

    For a guy who threw around a bunch of threatening gay pejoratives on twitter, he seems like a strange pick for a Democratic politician…

  3. Tony Jordan says:

    I wouldn’t consider voting for Baldwin.

  4. Just what we need. Another pigheaded politician who offers his way or the highway. Color me sooooo excited!

  5. Owec Bowen! We can use him!

  6. Will R says:

    Just remember if you vote for this lunatic you can’t say you didn’t know what he was like.

  7. Yukiko says:

    And I thought the Capital Credit Card commercials were a travesty. When I saw he might run for office I threw up in my throat a little. But, if his msnbc debut is anything like the time he subbed on a radio talk show we won’t even know if he’s on the air. I don’t remember which show it was and all I heard was a 3 minute unedited sound byte of him repeating over and over this name and that the lines were open.

  8. Will R says:

    Ah, just what we need. Another wannabe politician with no self-control and given to angry tirades. What a great day for Amerika. Yawn.

  9. He might make a good dog catcher …

  10. Vipeguy46 says:

    Wow….Hope Capital One Cancels his advertising!
    At least I know what show I won’t be watch late night!
    Late night show will all be dead when Leno’s leaves!

  11. Bob_L says:

    I quit reading this joke when I got to “…beloved…”

  12. GFM2013 says:

    Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    (ROFL)

    Ahem. Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

  13. FoundingFather's Apprentice says:

    Oh please, make it stop! He’s a middling actor at best since his Hunt For Red October role (an eon ago!), best suited to goofing around at his own expense on-screen (I do like his comedic work). But, please don’t let him become another comedian-come-Senator – don’t we have enough poorly informed busybody control-freak fools looking for a job in Washington already?

  14. ross says:

    NOTE TO SELF : Do not ever vote for Baldwin.

    • Yukiko says:

      Ross, you have to remind yourself not to vote for him? Shouldn’t that be something ingrained into you psyche? It should be right up there with don’t steal, commit murder and never tell your wife she looks fat in those slacks.

  15. Selena says:

    Just goes to show you can make all the politically incorrect, racial, homophobic rants you’d like, and you’ll be forgiven, as long as you’re a lib………

  16. Wild Bill says:

    His “serious” side is deranged just like the tabloid side.

  17. S.S. McDonald says:

    “Illustrious Career”??? Baldwin is a zero! Only those with an IQ at or below the local school-zone speed limit sign would voluntarily cast their ballot for Baldwin.

  18. Jane Douglas says:

    Just what we need-another angry, self absorbed politician.

  19. Addison says:

    I’m sure the both people who watch MSNBC will vote for Alec

  20. Harry says:

    Ah yes, another insecure court jester, just what the country needs for a politician. Maybe he can run for dog catcher in Detroit,,,

  21. Tom P says:

    Sure I’ll watch it. I’ll watch it just to see who his sponsors are. The I’ll notify them that I will spread the word to boycott their products.

  22. Help!! says:

    Lord save us from Alec Baldwin! If he runs in NY, he’ll win! We’ll have Franken/Baldwin in 2020, and that will truly be the end.

  23. zekethewonderdog says:

    Gosh, I hope it is as good as his radio show was! I think all two listeners called in his debut.

  24. Joe Lucido says:

    It will be interesting to see if his ratings will be as big as his head is. Not a chance.

  25. joex51 says:

    Alec Baldwin is the joke even the liberals won’t touch him with a 10 foot pole, with all of his anti-Homosexual hate speech, how the world needs capitalism, not to mention his tendencies towards violence, they are almost as bad as Weiner’s tendencies to expose himself to woman he is not married to…

  26. Hugh Jashole says:

    The guy can read a script, but he sure is an idiot when it comes to speaking and politics!

  27. jj christie says:

    God help us all.

  28. Jerry Frey says:

    Just what the country needs, another entertainer who thinks he’s a politician.

    http://napoleonlive.info/politics/gridlock-corruption-bureaucracy-politics/

  29. Jack Inmanz says:

    Look. I like Alec Baldwin. I think he’s funny when the script calls for it and maybe scary when the script calls for it. But I don’t think we need another attention craving actor for a politician.

  30. The King of the Penthouse Revolutionaries will only get ratings traction if he shows up drunk and starts ranting….otherwise the show is a stillborn.

  31. Mike Janz says:

    Alec Baldwin is just the type of bully we need in the government.
    He has absolutely no tact and he only knows how to deal with people by threatening and verbally abusing people.
    Yeah he’ll make a fine democrat polititician.

  32. BigR2 says:

    Alec Baldwin while being a train wreck of epic proportions as a human being, is one fine actor. I enjoyed his performance as “The Shadow” and in that turkey “Rock of Ages”. And he seems to have a rapport with children which would work to his advantage in Washington D.C.. But a politician???? Don’t think so.

  33. ShannonP says:

    Please NNNNOOOOO he is the last person who should get in to politics. He has NO idea what is going on in the world! He has no idea what it would be like to live as an average American citizen if his life depended on it!!! NO ONE from hollyweird should get into politics!!!!

  34. Jerry Adler says:

    Baldwin getting into politics will be more fun than watching Anthony(Carlos Danger)Weiner crash and burn with his giant ego and short fuse personality. If Baldwin can’t handle a paparazzi question on the street how is he going to handle a political opponent shredding him on TV ?

  35. Kevin Fodor says:

    I predict a total ratings disaster here of Piers Morgan scale.

    • p3orion says:

      “Ratings disaster” is a pretty relative term at MSNBC. If he still has three dozen viewers (after people stop tuning in just to see the train wreck) it’ll be a miracle. Then again, three dozen viewers would make it one of their highest-rated shows.

  36. Hey, if Al Franken could do it, why not this creep? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. This country deserves what it gets when we elect people like this.

  37. Jon says:

    He would make a great democrat . They always want to know what’s in your wallet.

  38. Alex Baldwin will become an elected official right after the country votes in an Olbermann administration.

    • p3orion says:

      No, he probably COULD win in New York. Never mind that he’s completely unfit for office, lacking the experience, intelligence, character, or temperament for any government position; they love people like that in New York (that’s why obama carried the state so easily.) Any place that will even let Anthony Weiner on a ballot will elect a loser like Baldwin.

  39. LoLo says:

    He could not make a pimple on the rear end of a Leader.

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