Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock star, Saturday Night Live recidivist, Dadaist tweeter, published author, classical music enthusiast, former heartthrob and current public radio host – can add one more line to his CV this week.
The curiously resilient actor allegedly assaulted a New York Daily News photographer outside Manhattan's city clerk's office Tuesday. The incident is the focus of a criminal investigation.
The man so notoriously outspoken that the New York Post once routinely referred to him as the Bloviator was obtaining a marriage license with his yoga-teacher fiancée Hilaria Thomas when cameraman Marcus Santos attempted to take his picture.
"He comes after me, starts shoving and punching me," Santos told the Daily News. "One time, right in the chin. And then he started shoving me, and pushing me. Then he goes the other way."
This is not a new Alec Baldwin. Today the actor is best known – and beloved – for his hilarious work on the Tina Fey sitcom 30 Rock as Jack Donaghy, the ruthless and clueless vice-president of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming.
But Donaghy recalls an earlier version of the actor who made more headlines in the late 90s for his off-screen behavior.
A former soap opera star with the looks and bravado of a young Marlon Brando, Baldwin enjoyed leading man status through the 80s and early 90s with turns in Glengarry Glen Ross, Beetlejuice and Malice. By the end of the decade, however, he had become better known for his bad temper and bad decisions (he turned down offers to star in the Fugitive and the sequel to Hunt for Red October).
He also developed a habit of mouthing off on political issues – he held, and vocalized, opinions on everything from animal rights to campaign-finance reform to government support of the arts. Baldwin enraged the right for suggesting Henry Hyde be stoned for his role in the impeachment of President Clinton.
During that era he also had frequent entertaining run-ins with Fox News, which famously culminated with the actor calling Sean Hannity "a no-talent whore".
At the same time, he was going through a messy divorce from Kim Basinger, whom he had met in 1990 on the set of the Marrying Man. Their acrimonious custody battle over their daughter Ireland reached a fevered pitch when a voicemail leaked in which Baldwin called the then 11-year-old girl a "rude, thoughtless little pig" and her mother "a thoughtless pain in the ass".
The ensuing public outcry reportedly drove him to thoughts of suicide. But ever the survivor, Baldwin used the incident to produce some good: after apologizing for the voicemail he co-wrote Promise to Ourselves in 2008, a serious and moving book about fatherhood and his struggle to remain part of his daughter's life.
And then there was Twitter.
Baldwin is something of a performance artist on the microblogging platform. In December of last year he sulked publicly and in real time to his half-million followers that he was being mistreated on a flight.
The problem? A flight attendant had ordered him to turn off Words With Friends, a game he was playing on his phone. Baldwin asserted, perhaps reasonably, that the plane wasn't even moving yet. American Airlines responded swiftly to the incident but Baldwin shortly thereafter tweeted that he wanted everyone to unfollow him. Then he quit the service.
For a month.
He had been back in his full Twitter groove for months by the time of his run-in with the Daily News photographer this week. Baldwin tweeted about it with the hashtag "allpaparazzishouldbewaterboarded".
The mild irony here is that Baldwin had written in his Huffington Post blog that the Words With Friends incident of last December reaffirmed to him that "you've got to fly overseas today in order to bring back what has been thrown overboard by US carriers in terms of common sense, style and service."
Sounds like a certain paparazzi-bashing someone is due for a trip abroad.
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