When a slice of entertainment takes over the American zeitgeist, a lot of people probably assume oodles of strategic planning went on behind the scenes in order to ensure a certain level of quality and popularity. But quite often, success falls into place quite randomly, as the story goes with Alec Baldwin's transition into Donald Trump for Saturday Night Live. Baldwin originally turned the offer down, it seems, since he was set to star in an indie movie with Woody Harrelson and others. Perhaps thankfully, the film's producers never actually raised the money. Here's how Baldwin put it.
So we have an escrow account. They don't put the money in escrow. Lorne calls me. 'You wanna play Trump? Come on this season. Just play Trump. It'll be like Tina with Palin.' And I go, 'Ah, I don't wanna fuckin' play Trump. Who the fuck wants to do that?' The escrow doesn't hit again. We give them a grace week, and then we're going, 'Oh, I'm not doing the movie. You don't have the money.' I'm not doing it. They want me to pretend they have the money, and I've been down that road before. And I call up Lorne and I go, 'I'm Trump. I'm ready. Let's go.'
Alec Baldwin's story, which he told on The Howard Stern Show, is proof enough that just about anything can happen at any given moment in Hollywood. And by that token, it could have just as easily been too late for Baldwin to get back to Lorne Michaels, as someone else could have been called up to the plate to take on the impression. Granted, whoever that person was likely wouldn't have taken over pop culture in the same way Baldwin did. (I mean, just look at what happened to the last person to play Trump on SNL before Baldwin.) It's admittedly kind of fun to think about then getting Larry David to do it.
But even though it feels wrong to cheer on the lack of success for any movie that would have starred Woody Harrelson, there's absolutely a positive side to the unnamed feature not being able to raise enough money to go into production. It's possible that more people are watching and paying attention to Alec Baldwin now than they have in ages, and it's easily provable that Saturday Night Live is experiencing a ratings boom that doesn't come around all that often, especially in today's DVR-friendly climate.
It's only been seven months or so since Alec Baldwin first donned the blonde wig, but it feels like much longer, considering all of the eyeballs that the impression has pulled in. Most notably, of course, were the eyeballs of Donald Trump himself, who spent his pre-inauguration months (and some time after that) railing on Baldwin and SNL on Twitter. Which obviously just made the cast and crew go harder on highlighting the ridiculousness of it all, while also inspiring some other magical cameos, with Melissa McCarthy's bubbly take on Sean Spicer as the standout.
While it's entirely up in the air whether or not Baldwin will continue to play Donald Trump when next fall rolls around, you can catch the final coast-to-coast episodes of Saturday Night Live Season 42 on Saturdays on NBC. To see everything else that's heading to the small screen in the coming months, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.