Baldwin hopes to break mould
NEW YORK — When his new talk show premieres Sunday night, 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 U.S. 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 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 this Sunday. The one-hour show will feature two interviews, with Taraji P. Henson as the other guest.
Baldwin plans to pick up where he left off with his WNYC podcast Here’s the Thing, employing his unfiltered, provocative interview style. Baldwin said the long-form format allows him to take a “deep dive” into the issues with each subject.
“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.”
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,” he 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 Baldwin is polarizing, but also pointed out that some viewers who don’t agree with Baldwin will also tune in, much like Howard Stern found his ratings were higher thanks to people who didn’t like him.