The recent circulation of Christian Bale’s meltdown on the set of “Terminator: Salvation” reminded me of an infamous recording that threatened the career of another lauded actor. No, I’m not referring to Michael Richards’ racist tirade or David Hasselhoff’s burger incident. Neither of those celebrities’ careers could sink any lower.
Alec Baldwin, however, was hit with a harsh blow when a rather nasty voice mail left for his daughter hit the internet. Radio stations picked it up, and of course the gossip news programs ran it into the ground. Calling his daughter a “thoughtless little pig” is quite possibly the cruelest yet most hilarious bit to come out of Hollywood in years.
But despite such negative publicity, Baldwin’s career has only gone up since that incident. The “30 Rock” star has even repackaged himself as a comic powerhouse and culture aficionado. Turner Classic Movies announced last week that Baldwin will co-host its TV program “The Essentials” opposite Robert Osborne. And if TCM wasn’t high-brow enough, he is now the voice of the New York Philharmonic.
From the classic turn in “Beetlejuice” to his legendary role in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Baldwin never ceases to entertain. Most weeks his performance in “30 Rock” rivals the best of television comics, proving that talent might be the only remedy for bad PR.
Hollywood seems to have forgiven Baldwin, or quite possibly forgotten the whole incident, as he was bestowed with multiple awards this past year including a SAG statue and Golden Globe.
Mickey Rourke is another bad guy recently turned golden boy after picking up one award after another for his performance in “The Wrestler.” Unlike Baldwin, however, Rourke might have waited too long to beg forgiveness from Hollywood, as the Motion Picture Academy snubbed him at the Oscars.
As Max Bialystock says, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” But don’t wait too long to do so, otherwise an already fickle industry might write you off for good. Baldwin’s career has remained consistently strong, despite a few clunkers along the way… “The Cat in the Hat.” Rourke, Richards and Hasselhoff haven’t been as fortunate over the years, and their ability to overcome nasty PR reflects that.
One actor that should take note from Baldwin is the troubled Joaquin Phoenix. The jury is still out on his recent Unabomber makeover and that horribly awkward appearance on David Letterman. But he’s running the risk of taking this joke too far and getting a boot in the rear from showbiz. Phoneix might be talented, but unless he is willing to take it to Andy Kaufman type lengths, it will not end with applause.
So while Baldwin considers adding PR consultant to his resume, I’ll wait with anticipation to hear his TCM musings on such classics as “Rocky,” “Ben-Hur” and “Cat Ballou.”
Published on TheWrap.com March 10, 2009.