Alec Baldwin wants to be left alone. He’s spent decades in the public eye, giving interviews, interacting with the press, and now, he just wants to go about the business of acting without a whole lot of fanfare. So, like any hyper-emotional, deeply bitter creative type, he recently decided to announce he was stepping away from public life by publishing a fascinating, extremely honest letter riddled with middle fingers at those who wronged him.
That letter ran today on Vulture, and it reads like the written embodiment of every single reason so many people love and hate the award winning actor. It’s pompous, funny, accusatory, mean-spirited, random, referential and aggressively honest. It’s a giant slice of Baldwin, and it takes no prisoners.
By the time it’s over, the letter namechecks more than a dozen people, and Baldwin makes it very clear how he feels about each. So, let’s touch on some of the highlights and talk about the five people he hit the hardest.
TMZ Editor In Chief Harvey LevinBackstory: Baldwin blames Levin for much of his current public perception problem. Last year, TMZ ran video it claimed showed the actor using a hompophobic slur against a reporter. Baldwin immediately denied it, claiming the muffled audio actually captured him saying “cocksucking fathead”. Either way, that issue is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to problems between the two men, the most pressing of which involves that vicious voicemail Baldwin left for his daughter that TMZ published.
Quote: “I get angry, and I’ve said all sorts of things in anger, but I’d never use that word. Levin has so little regard for the truth, which is odd, knowing he was once a legal correspondent for the CBS affiliate in L.A. He’s also the one who revealed the tape that my ex-wife’s lawyers provided of me yelling at my daughter seven years ago. Knowing that none of it would have transpired if I hadn’t left the message in the first place, I think he hurt my daughter more than anyone.”
Anderson CooperBackstory: Last year, a journalist claimed Baldwin’s wife Hilaria was tweeting during James Gandolfini’s funeral. Evidence later showed she wasn’t, and Baldwin went absolutely nuts on the reporter for saying it. In fact, he called him a ”toxic little queen” on Twitter, which didn’t sit too well with Anderson Cooper who had a field day about how the media jumps on noted Conservatives for homophobia but often gives Liberals a free pass. A few other members of the media argued the same thing, and that, coupled with other incidents, started a snowball effect that helped soil Baldwin’s reputation.
Quote: ”I flew to Hawaii recently to shoot a film, fresh on the heels of being labeled a homophobic bigot by Andrew Sullivan, Anderson Cooper, and others in the Gay Department of Justice. … (Much later in the same piece) In my rage, however, I called (a reporter) a “toxic little queen,” and, thus, Anderson Cooper, the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture, suggested I should be “vilified,” in his words.”
Shia LabeoufBackstory: LaBeouf and Baldwin worked on a Broadway play together entitled Orphans. In short, it did not go so well. The two men clashed at almost every turn, and eventually, Baldwin gave the “him or me” line to producers. They decided to go with the theater veteran and LaBeouf quickly left citing creative differences. Ben Foster, who gets a glowing review here, stepped in to try and save the day, but the troubled production didn’t last very long.
Quote: "There was friction between us from the beginning. LaBeouf seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes. When he came to rehearsal, he was told it was important to memorize his lines. He took that to heart and learned all his lines in advance, even emailing me videos in which he read aloud his lines from the entire play. To prove he had put in the time. (What else do you do in jail?) I, however, do not learn my lines in advance. So he began to sulk because he felt we were slowing him down. You could tell right away he loves to argue. And one day he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, 'You’re slowing me down, and you don’t know your lines. And if you don’t say your lines, I’m just going to keep saying my lines.'"
Rachel MaddowBackstory: Prior to taking his job at MSNBC, Baldwin apparently didn’t watch the cable news network very much, but he had a begrudging respect for Maddow and her abilities as a newswoman. Let the record show that shine has almost completely worn off. The former 30 Rock star is convinced she’s the one who pushed hardest for his firing, and after spending so much time with her, he now realizes she’s one giant “phony” who cares about news and justice a hell of a lot more on the air than off of it.
Quote: ”Another told me, regarding the “toxic little queen” comment, that Rachel Maddow was the prime mover in my firing, as she was aghast that I had been hired and viewed me as equivalent to Mel Gibson. Another source told me, “You know who’s going to get you fired, don’t you? Rachel. Phil (Griffin) will do whatever Rachel tells him to do.” I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.”
MSNBC President Phil GriffinBackstory: The Phil in question in the above paragraph is Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. He brought Baldwin in to convert his podcast into a television show and then apparently freaked out when he did exactly that, bitching and complaining about the guests while simultaneously saying the ratings would come. He suspended Baldwin following the homophobic controversy and allegedly told him he would be back on the air shortly when the bad vibes passed off. Then, out of nowhere, he fired Baldwin, leaving him in his current pissed off state.
Quote: “Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming—and couldn’t give a flying fuck about content. All he wanted to talk about was Giants tickets, Super Bowl tickets, restaurants, movies. The conversations about the set, about the physical production of the show, cameras, lighting—it seemed like he wanted to get those over with as quickly as possible. He didn’t care. He had four monitors on the wall. They were all on, muted. He never listened to them. He never watched them.”