Tag Archives: Alec Baldwin

In 2016, politics dominated our pop culture and vice versa

Our politics is often reflected in our pop culture, and vice versa — especially in an election year. That relationship seemed closer than ever in 2016, when a TV personality was elected president, reality shows and beauty contests were referenced in presidential debates, and even a Broadway show ignited partisan sparring.

At times, it seemed like the election overshadowed everything, but of course there was more. The diversity issue again roiled Hollywood. The old-style musical made a glamorous comeback. One of Hollywood’s most scrutinized couples called it quits. And we said a series of painful goodbyes: to legendary rock stars, cinema and TV greats, and The Greatest himself. Our annual, highly selective journey down pop culture memory lane.


Ground Control to Major Tom: We shall miss you. The death of DAVID BOWIE casts a pall over the pop culture scene as the year begins. The elegant rock star succumbs to cancer — an illness he fought in secret — just a few days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final music video, “Lazarus,” which begins with the line: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”


A year after (hash)OscarsSoWhite in 2015, the Oscars are … (hash)SoWhiteAgain! For the second year, all 20 nominated actors are white. The lack of diversity leads to some sweeping membership changes at the Academy. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl halftime show is allegedly headlined by Coldplay. But it’s BEYONCE who rules with a commanding performance of her new song, “Formation,” proving that Queen Bey is still very much among our royalty.


The ROLLING STONES perform in Cuba, a once-unthinkable event that happens a week after President Obama visits the island nation. Speaking of Obama, he hosts a White House concert performance of “HAMILTON,” part of a remarkable 2016 for LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA and his rap-infused Broadway musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton. We say goodbye to GARRY SHANDLING.


HAMILTON wins the Pulitzer for drama (to add to a Grammy and, soon, 11 Tonys), and current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reverses a plan to bump Hamilton from the $10 bill after fans kick up a fuss — undoubtedly the first time a Broadway show influences currency policy. And April showers bring Purple Rain: Rock legend PRINCE dies a shocking death at 57 of an accidental opioid overdose, launching countless poignant tributes.


“It’s not over ‘til I say it’s over,” says BERNIE SANDERS to HILLARY CLINTON, of the fight for the Democratic nomination. Actually, that’s LARRY DAVID talking to KATE MCKINNON on “Saturday Night Live.” As MCKINNON hones her acclaimed, manically ambitious portrayal of Clinton — one of nine actresses to portray her in SNL history — DONALD TRUMP (in real life) clinches the Republican nomination. We’ll have to wait a few months to see who plays him on SNL….


The greatest is gone: MUHAMMAD ALI dies at 74 after a three-decade battle with Parkinson’s disease. It’s CLINTON’s turn to clinch her party’s nomination, becoming the first woman in U.S. history to lead a major party ticket. At the Tony awards, host JAMES CORDEN opens with a tribute to the Orlando nightclub shooting victims, and MIRANDA does the same with a tearful sonnet, declaring that “love is love is love is love.”


Hollywood always turns out for Democrats, and the Democratic National Convention is no exception. Performers include KATY PERRY, ALICIA KEYS, CAROLE KING, DEMI LOVATO, BOYZ II MEN and PAUL SIMON, among many others. In media news, ROGER AILES is out at Fox News Channel, following allegations of sexual harassment. And the retired JON STEWART — missed by many fans in an election year — returns to late night, bearded and in a bathrobe, for an appearance with STEPHEN COLBERT.


SCOTT BAIO is the biggest celebrity at the Republican National Convention. And some sports news: In Rio, MICHAEL PHELPS ends his historic Olympic career (or so he says) with a mind-boggling 23rd career gold. But the U.S. swim team’s achievements are overshadowed by RYAN LOCHTE’s drunken night and evolving explanation. Goodbye, Willy Wonka and Leo Bloom: Actor GENE WILDER — whose name could easily describe his famous eyes and untamed hair — dies at 83 of complications of Alzheimer’s.


The first CLINTON-TRUMP debate draws 84 million viewers, the most ever for a U.S. presidential matchup, and yields at least one catchy meme: The “Hillary Shimmy.” Clinton tries her hand at comedy with ZACH GALIFIANAKIS on “Between Two Ferns.” JIMMY FALLON famously musses TRUMP’s hair, and is criticized for the friendly encounter. Bye Bye, BRANGELINA: One of the most high-profile couplings in Hollywood is over.


Hello, NASTY WOMAN: Trump’s frustrated comment about Clinton in their third, extremely contentious debate becomes one of the more famous exchanges of the season, launching “nasty woman” merchandise like the “Madam President If You’re Nasty” T-shirt. We meet ALEC BALDWIN’S Trump on SNL. TRUMP — the real one — tweets: “Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks.” And the candidate’s “grab ‘em” comments on “Access Hollywood” emerge, sending his campaign into damage control.


Something happens in early November … what was it again? Meantime, let’s remember singer LEONARD COHEN, dead at 82. Many find themselves singing “Hallelujah,” his much-covered ballad — including a somber MCKINNON on “SNL,” a few days after the election. BALDWIN reprises Trump, the real TRUMP settles into meetings at Trump Tower, and his vice president-elect, MIKE PENCE, goes to HAMILTON, where the production appeals to him directly from the stage to work on behalf of all Americans. Pence says he doesn’t mind, but Trump tweets: “Apologize!”


It’s been quite a year for the musical, and not just on Broadway. “Hairspray Live!” continues the live TV musical fad. And movie audiences are enchanted by a candy-colored, old-fashioned musical ode to Tinseltown itself, “La La Land,” by young director DAMIEN CHAZELLE. Finally, for those craving a little consistency in this turbulent year, it’s perhaps nice to know that December arrives bearing the same Christmas gift as it did last year: A new “STAR WARS” movie.

Barbra Streisand enlists pal Melissa McCarthy, Anne Hathaway and others for Broadway album

Sometimes even Barbra Streisand needs a little help from her friends. The 74-year-old stage and screen legend decided early on that her 36th studio album would feature Broadway duets.

So she called on some of her friends and favorite actors, including Anne Hathaway, Daisy Ridley, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine and Bradley Cooper, to bring her vision to life.

The result, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, is a quirky mix of surprising and entertaining collaborations pulled from hit musicals like My Fair Lady and A Chorus Line, as well more obscure productions such as Evening Primrose and Smile.

Despite the group effort, the album is still authentically Streisand.

“Records I have control over,” said Streisand, who was hands-on with every aspect, from song conception to directing each performance.

“That’s what I cared about as a young performer as well. I didn’t know about what salary it was,” she recalled. “I cared about creative control. That nobody can tell me what to sing or force me to sing or album cover design or anything that had to do with my creativity. It had to feel right to me.”

In a recent interview at the oceanside Malibu, California, studio where she recorded Encore, Streisand delved into her directing process with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.



Streisand admitted that some stars took a little persuading. Alec Baldwin, for example, feared he didn’t have the vocal chops.

“And I said, ‘You’re a personality and it’s perfect for the song,” she said of her early conversations with the 30 Rock actor. “Will you try with me? Because if it’s really terrible we won’t use it. Will you experiment with me? Will you play with me?”

Luckily he agreed and the outcome is the cheeky, romantic duet, “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened,” from Stephen Sondheim’s lesser-known musical, Road Show.

“It’s hard work getting the notes right for people who are not singers, but I know they can act their way through it. They’ll get it and that’s the fun of doing this kind of project,” Streisand said.



Streisand wanted a new twist on the classic “Anything You Can Do,” from Broadway’s Annie Get Your Gun.

So the Funny Girl star tapped fellow funny lady Melissa McCarthy to reimagine the song as comedic banter between showbiz frenemies.

“When I approached Melissa, the first thing she said to me was ‘I can’t sing you know’ and so she’s a little bit tone deaf,” Streisand explained. “But she compensates with so much personality and so much laughter and so much spontaneity.”

Streisand recalled how McCarthy struggled to hit some of the notes, but other times she nailed it.

“There are moments she sings and I go, ‘Melissa that was fantastic! You sang that beautifully!’ And she surprises herself,” she said.



“When I was a child I had imagination. I lived in Brooklyn. You know, I slept in the living room. But I imagined myself as somebody, as having something worthwhile to be noticed and somehow I manifested it. So I know anything is possible,” said Streisand.

This was the idea behind her heartfelt duet, “Pure Imagination,” from the 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Streisand teamed with actor-filmmaker Seth MacFarlane for the dreamy ballad and penned a spoken-word introduction about imagination she hoped will resonate with modern audiences.

“The divisiveness, the violence, these are very sad times,” she said. “I just believe in the power of whatever it is _ faith, prayer, visualization … who knows what that can manifest?”



Streisand had full confidence that Jaimie Foxx would rise to the challenge of performing one of Broadway’s most-beloved songs: “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music.

“I did because I saw him get an Academy Award for playing Ray Charles. So I know he can sing,” she said. “His soulfulness, his great voice …. he was able to sing it in one session, you know. I mean he’s that good. So I was thrilled. I was thrilled to sing with him.”

Streisand closes the album with the soulful, moving duet, which she said is about “having dreams and taking chances.”

“Step-by-step we will get there,” said Streisand of her approach to any obstacle. “We will climb that mountain. You have to have faith in today’s world. Don’t you?”


On the Web


MSNBC host apologizes to Romney family for jokes about infant

An MSNBC host apologized to Mitt Romney’s family on Dec. 31 after she and guests on her show joked about a Christmas picture that showed the 2012 Republican presidential candidate’s adopted, African-American grandson.

Melissa Harris-Perry said her intention was to celebrate diversity, but the segment took an unexpected and offensive turn when she asked her guests to talk about a photo showing infant Kieran Romney with his grandparents and their 21 other grandchildren, all of them white.

One guest on her Sunday show, actress Pia Glenn, sang “one of these things just isn’t the same.”

Comedian Dean Obeidallah said it “sums up the diversity of the Republican party.”

Harris-Perry said she’d like to see Kieran marry Kanye West’s daughter so West and Romney would be in-laws.

MSNBC has had several of its hosts issue apologies in recent months.

Martin Bashir apologized and resigned from the network on Dec. 4 after making graphic remarks about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, suggesting someone should defecate in her mouth.

Bashir’s comments about Palin came on the same day MSNBC suspended Alec Baldwin from his weekly show for two episodes because the actor used an anti-gay slur in a confrontation with a photographer on a New York City street. Baldwin apologized, and he and network ended his show after five episodes.

MSNBC suspends Alec Baldwin show after anti-gay slur

Alec Baldwin’s new weekly MSNBC talk show was suspended for two episodes after the actor was videotaped using an anti-gay epithet against a photographer during a New York street encounter.

The cable channel didn’t specify the reason it yanked “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” from its schedule last week and this week, but the decision came the day after the run-in.

In a statement on MSNBC website, Baldwin wrote that he “did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have – and for that I am deeply sorry.”

He said his actions came as he tried to protect his family – presumably from the photographer – but were unacceptable and undermine “hard-fought rights that I vigorously support.”

The video, which was posted on TMZ, also drew a tweeted apology from Baldwin in which he claimed he was unaware the term he used was offensive to gays.

MSNBC declined further comment. Baldwin’s representative said in an email that the actor would decline to comment.

The incident came during the week a Canadian actress was convicted in New York of stalking Baldwin with calls, emails and visits over a two-year period. Genevieve Sabourin was sentenced to six months in jail in addition to a month she’s already serving for her courtroom outbursts.

Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, said in a statement afterward that the two “feel safe, relieved and happy to move forward” with the case resolved.

But Baldwin reportedly lost his cool again when a reporter for a New York TV channel asked about the trial and, according to Variety.com, Baldwin called him “dumb.” The exchange took place outside Baldwin’s apartment building, the website said.

Baldwin’s career has included Oscar and Tony nominations and originating action hero Jack Ryan in the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October” as well as his Emmy-winning turn on “30 Rock.”

He’s also known for his temper. He was kicked off a plane in 2011 after refusing to stop playing a cellphone game, and he’s gotten into confrontations with news photographers. He and a New York Post lensman filed harassment complaints against each other after an altercation in February, and a Daily News photographer said Baldwin punched him in 2012, which Baldwin denied.

Alec Baldwin, Julia Roberts to star in film version of ‘Normal Heart’

Alec Baldwin and Julia Roberts have signed on to star in the film version of Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning autobiographical play “The Normal Heart,” which follows the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The two stars join Mark Ruffalo, who was already cast as protagonist Ned Weeks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Baldwin will play Weeks’ brother and Roberts will play the doctor who understands the seriousness of the mystery sickness.

The roles are meaty. The 2011 Broadway production won awards for Ellen Barkin in the party Roberts is taking and John Benjamin Hickey in the role that Ruffalo will play on the big screen.

“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy is directing.

The play debuted off-Broadway in 1985 and was revived in 2004 in Los Angeles and London. It debuted on Broadway last year.

“White Collar” star Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons, who won an Emmy for “The Big Bang Theory,” are also part of the cast.

Baldwin is a strong equality supporter who lobbied New York lawmakers to back the bill that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

Murphy is at the forefront of bringing issues of gay equality into the national conversation, The Hollywood Reporter says. His TV show “Glee” features several gay characters and story lines, as does his cable hit “American Horror Story.”

Schweddy balls

Ben & Jerry’s latest ice cream flavor pays homage to a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit. “Schweddy Balls” ice cream will debut on Sept. 24 to mark SNL’s 37th season premiere. The limited-batch flavor is made with fudge-covered rum balls and chocolate malt balls stirred into vanilla ice cream. The inspiration is a character created by Alec Baldwin – a specialty food marketer named Pete Schweddy.  As a guest on a fake NPR program called “Delicious Dish,” Schweddy speaks with “hosts” Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon about his holiday treats, including rum balls, malt balls and, of course, his famous Schweddy balls. “No one can resist my Schweddy balls,” Baldwin deadpans.

Christian hate group boycotts Schweddy Balls ice cream

The American Family Association has announced a boycott of a new Ben & Jerry’s limited batch ice cream flavor called “Schweddy Balls.”

The flavor, based on a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit is set to debut on Sept. 24 to mark SNL’s 37th season premiere. In the skit, Alec Baldwin plays a specialty food marketer named Pete Schweddy. As a guest on a fake NPR program called “Delicious Dish,” Schweddy speaks with “hosts” Ann Gasteyer and Molly Shannon about his holiday treats, including rum balls, popcorn balls, malt balls and his famous Schweddy balls.

The skit featured Baldwin dead-panning, “No one can resist my Schweddy balls.”

But the new flavor has become a target for the AFA affiliate OneMillionMoms. The group is calling on members to boycott all Ben & Jerry’s products, complaining that “the vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive. Not exactly what you want a child asking for at the supermarket.”

A Ben & Jerry’s spokesman said company has “always been about having some irreverence and having some fun … We’re not trying to offend people. Our fans get the humor.”

The AFA previously criticized the ice cream company for its flavor Chubby Hubby, created to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage in Vermont, the company’s home state.

Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls is made with fudge-covered rum balls and chocolate malt balls stirred into vanilla ice cream. Reviewers have given a thumbs-up to the ice cream but expressed disappointment with the number and quality of balls included in the mix.

One reviewer called the ice cream “unballsy.”

Schweddy Balls ice cream will be available in about one-third of stores that carry Ben & Jerry’s.  

Weiner’s woes make gay woman frontrunner for New York mayor

There are many things that Rep. Anthony Weiner was never shy about, and one was telling people he hoped to become New York City’s mayor.

But with a 2013 candidacy all but out of the picture for the embattled Democrat, and with Mayor Michael Bloomberg approaching the halfway mark of his third and final term, Weiner’s Internet sex scandal has reshaped the political fight already simmering beneath the surface of New York City politics. It has even led a celebrity, “30 Rock” actor Alec Baldwin, to publicly toy with the idea of jumping in to the game.

Weiner “combined appeal to striving, middle-class people in the outer boroughs with the ideological left,” many of them wealthier Manhattanites, said Hunter College political science professor Kenneth Sherrill. “That’s a very hard combination to pull off.”

More than half of city voters saying in a recent poll that Weiner shouldn’t make a City Hall bid, leaving up for grabs the broad swath of votes that seemed destined for the Queens congressman.

A seven-term Democrat, Weiner acknowledged this week that he sent sexually explicit messages over Twitter to six women over the past three years and then lying about it. He got married last year; his wife is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Weiner announced Saturday he was entering professional treatment at an undisclosed location and requested a leave of absence from Congress amid pressure to resign.

Spokeswoman Risa Heller said in a statement that Weiner left home “to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”

The statement did not say where he would receive treatment or what type was involved. A day earlier, Weiner acknowledged he had exchanged online messages with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware. He said nothing improper had passed between the two of them.

It’s debatable who could most benefit from Weiner’s downfall. Sherrill argues that one of those with the most to gain is Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who runs the risk of fading into the background if the race becomes crowded with white male candidates. Now he could gain supporters from the ranks of Weiner fans who loved the congressman for his very public and very loud opposition to Republicans on national issues. Stringer, the professor said, can be similarly aggressive and authentic.

“You see him, you hear him, you say, ‘That’s a New Yorker,’ as you do with Weiner,” Sherrill said.

City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, the 2009 Democratic nominee for mayor, could also win support from those same progressives.

Many of Weiner’s middle-class supporters living outside of Manhattan could shift to current Comptroller John Liu, a union ally who like Weiner is based in Queens, and who enjoys strong support among the Asian community there, Sherrill said. De Blasio, too, is closely allied with the city’s unions and lives in Brooklyn, where Weiner grew up and has many supporters. Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s work on housing issues and her own middle-class background could also win her some of those outer-borough votes.

Weiner’s scandal may have prompted one politician into action. Though Thompson had said he intended to run again, he long remained the only presumptive candidate who hadn’t started fundraising. But on Friday, he formally registered with the city Campaign Finance Board as a mayoral candidate.

Thompson has some catching up to do. As of January, Weiner had raised $5.1 million, Quinn had raised $3.2 million and Stringer had raised $1.1 million. Liu and de Blasio trailed with $513,000 and $393,000, respectively.

“The money race is the key indicator now,” said Baruch College politics professor Doug Muzzio, although he cautioned it is still very early and the race likely won’t head into full swing until after the 2012 federal elections.

By that standard, Quinn is now the front-runner. The historic nature of her as-yet-undeclared campaign – if elected, she would be the first openly gay and the first female mayor – could further help her as she raises more. Roughly one-third of her campaign donations have come from outside of the city.

Still, Quinn is faced with walking a tricky line. Political insiders say she must retain the mayor’s support – the two often appear together at events, and Bloomberg praises her work – yet distance herself from the Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-independent as he weathers what several analysts have termed third-term fatigue among dissatisfied voters.

Beyond that core fivesome, a Weiner exit could possibly bring unexpected faces into the game.

Baldwin has long professed his interest in running for office, and days ago he queried his Twitter followers, “Can Weiner still be mayor in 2013?”

In response to reports that Baldwin himself was considering entering the race because of Weiner’s apparent departure, the actor said on Twitter: “It’s a long way till November of 2013.”

Baldwin has said he doesn’t expect to continue with “30 Rock” past 2012, but if he decides to make a run for the city’s top job, he will have to change addresses. He has long claimed residency in the wealthy Long Island enclave of East Hampton, although he has also kept a home in New York City since the 1980s. He now owns an apartment on the Upper West Side.

Some have suggested that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer could join the race, although his own sex scandal might play poorly following Weiner’s. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has also been mentioned as a possibility, though he has said he prefers his current job.

Analysts say there’s a distant possibility that Weiner himself could still join the mayoral fray. After all, last time around Thompson came very close to beating Bloomberg, who outspent him more than 10-to-1, after the Democrat raised $6.1 million before matching funds, little more than what Weiner already has in the bank.

“There’s nothing impossible in politics,” said Muzzio. But, he added, “This is as close as you’re going to get.”