WASHINGTON — Alec Baldwin’s recent televised rant against House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., has angered members of Congress, and they are calling MPAA prexy Jack Valenti to complain.
During an appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Baldwin said that in other countries Hyde and his family would be stoned to death. Hyde chairs the committee that voted to send articles of impeachment against President Clinton to the House of Representatives.
Valenti said Thursday that he would be calling Baldwin or “writing him a note” in which he would suggest “to my dismay and sorrow” that Baldwin’s comments were “over the top.” Valenti also said that Baldwin’s rant was “so off base as to boggle the mind.”
Lisa Kasteler, who represents Baldwin, said the actor was just joking around: “It was a parody. It was a parody on the hysteria in this country coming from right-wing fanatics.” The agent added, “I’m not sure why Valenti thinks he needs to get involved.”
But irate members of Congress called Valenti to say the actor’s statements were irresponsible. Those statements included Baldwin responding to roars from the “Late Night” audience by shouting: “We would stone (Hyde) to death, and we would go to their homes, and we’d kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families,” exclaimed Baldwin, according to a transcript printed in the New York Post.
Baldwin has written a letter to Hyde and his family, apologizing for his statements.
Valenti said members of Congress “on both sides of the aisle think (Hyde) is the finest man to have mediating a dispute.”
In addition to his duties as the House impeachment topper, Hyde also oversees several issues of great importance to Hollywood, including copyrights and royalty fees.
When asked if members of Congress have called to complain about Baldwin’s statement, Valenti said, “I’ve heard from a few people.”
Valenti also said he has received at least one call from a member of Congress, “friendly to Hollywood” who complained about an anti-impeachment rally in Los Angeles on Wednesday that was attended by Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson and other celebrities. During the rally, Streisand criticized the Republican Congress for its attacks on Clinton and the current effort to impeach him.
In reference to the rally, Valenti said that he is a strong supporter of the First Amendment and would not criticize anyone’s decision to exercise the right to free speech.