Alec Baldwin is wonderful at a lot of things. With his commanding voice and icy presence, he can steal a scene like few men in Hollywood. Beyond that, he’s also arguably the single greatest host in the history of Saturday Night Live and sometimes maintains the most entertaining account on all of Twitter. The man has a lot of clear and definable skills, but unlike someone like George Clooney, he has some clear limitations too.
For years, movie executives tried to make Baldwin a leading man in big budget films. That plan never worked. For years, the actor has been vowing to stop fighting with the paparazzi. That has also failed. And now, his MSNBC show that seemed like such a promising idea is likely headed for a retool or eventual cancellation after the newest chunk of numbers saw the program hit some record lows.
In theory, finding a good talk show host should be far simpler than finding a star in just about any other field. You just need someone with charisma who has enough juice to bring in eyeballs and has enough to say to carry guests who aren’t always great conversationalists. Unfortunately, the truth in practice is far different. It really doesn’t matter how famous the host might be. What viewers are looking for is the right balance between humor and discussion and most importantly, a product that has a nice flow to it.
Up Late With Alec Baldwin hasn’t yet been able to find its groove and because of his personal problems, it's shutting down for the next two weeks. If it doesn’t get it together quickly, it could find itself on the cutting room floor, and Baldwin could find common ground with the talented men and women on this list who have a lot of skills but could never truly find comfortable ground as a talk show host.
John McEnroeWhat He’s Good At: playing tennis, being a tennis analyst, giving interviews, making pop culture appearances as himself and yelling at line judges.
Why His Talk Show Didn’t Work: Thanks to some appearances guest hosting The Late Show With David Letterman, his work as a commentator on tennis matches and his explosive personality, CNBC decided to give the tennis legend his own show back in 2004. It actually produced some interesting moments during its six months or so on the air, but McEnroe never seemed completely comfortable during interviews. Following a few attempts to retool and a disastrous 0.0 rating on two separate occasions, the network pulled the plug.
New Format Recommendation: McEnroe should stick to being the analyst during tennis matches. He’s an A+ at that, but if he were to get his own show again, I would recommend it take an Anthony Bourdaine No Reservations type format. The former professional athlete is great at interacting with the public, and he’s always good for a few blow-ups. Setting him loose on the streets to go have fun would make for a very entertaining program.