Bald­win vows to break the talk show model

Khaleej Times - City Times - - HOLLYWOOD HUSTLE -

WHEN HIS NEW talk show pre­mieres tonight, don’t ex­pect Alec Bald­win to get overly po­lit­i­cal. The 60-year old ac­tor plans to leave that on the set of Satur­day Night Live

with his oc­ca­sional im­per­son­ations of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“The Trump thing is just silly. Noth­ing we do on SNL about Trump is go­ing to change any­body’s mind about any­thing,” Bald­win said. “There are peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton go­ing, ‘That Alec Bald­win, I hate him’... and there are oth­ers that say, ‘Thank you, for help­ing us process this.’”

That’s why he doesn’t see an up­side to be­ing overly po­lit­i­cal on the new The Alec Bald­win Show on ABC. The show fea­tures can­did one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions with celebri­ties and cul­tural icons. “If you have a very mus­cu­lar po­lit­i­cal opin­ion, it has its con­se­quences. I’m not afraid of that, and thank­fully I have other venues to ex­er­cise that. But this is not about that at all,” Bald­win said.

His guests are an­other story. The talk show de­buts with the po­lit­i­cally out­spo­ken Robert De Niro to­day. The hour show will fea­ture two in­ter­views, with Taraji P. Hen­son as the other guest.

Bald­win plans to pick up where Here’s the Thing - his pod­cast for WNYC - left off, em­ploy­ing his un­fil­tered, provoca­tive in­ter­view style. Bald­win said the long-form in­ter­view for­mat al­lows him to take a “deep dive” into the is­sues with each sub­ject. Plus, stay­ing in one place works great for his fam­ily life.

“It be­came harder and harder as I got older and trav­el­ling, I’ve got lit­tle kids and I don’t want to travel,” Bald­win said.

He also wanted to bring a fresh per­spec­tive to the talk­show for­mat af­ter be­ing on the other side of the couch for so long. While pro­mot­ing dif­fer­ent projects along the way, Bald­win re­called the lim­i­ta­tions of be­ing in­ter­viewed at jun­kets and talk-show spots. It’s some­thing he calls short and “very chore­ographed.”

“There wasn’t a spon­ta­neous breath to draw. They’ve worked out all the ques­tions in ad­vance. What you say is kind of a lit­tle script that they’ve drafted,” Bald­win said.

But he also found it hard to trust the in­ter­viewer in such a short time, so he un­der­stands the rea­sons many pub­lic fig­ures need to “play it safe.”

“Now you can say some­thing on a talk show and your ca­reer could be over. Or you can have real dam­age done. There’s a cau­tion peo­ple have to ex­er­cise now. You’d be naive not to,” Bald­win said. With the longer for­mat, he feels the sub­jects are more apt to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion.

Bald­win found him­self on the wrong side of the story af­ter a re­cent in­ter­view with the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter, say­ing that, “Ever since I played Trump, black peo­ple love me.” He faced a so­cial me­dia back­lash. Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer Ja­son Schrift re­al­izes that Bald­win is a po­lar­is­ing en­ter­tainer, but also pointed out that some view­ers who don’t agree with Bald­win will also tune in, much like Howard Stern found his rat­ing were higher thanks to peo­ple who didn’t like him. But Schrift also feels that some of Bald­win’s per­spec­tives can ap­peal to his de­trac­tors too.

“Even the right-wing peo­ple will be sur­prised by some of his con­ser­va­tive opin­ions about some things,” Schrift said.

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