Too Big To Fail: Alec Baldwin by James Wolcott
Too Big to Fail
Comedic genius of 30 Rock, seductive star of It’s Complicated, co-host of this year’s Academy Awards–Alec Baldwin has come through personal and professional disaster to emerge as Hollywood’s favorite rogue. How come he’s threatening to retire?
By James Wolcott
Actor and Oscar co-host Alec Baldwin. Illustration by André Carrilho.
How did Alec Baldwin achieve this bizarre headlock on our affections? It’s as if he secretly adopted us, or we adopted him; either way, say hello to your new daddy. Open any door and there he is, welcoming himself in. Unfold the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times and behold a front-page article about Baldwin’s new role as the official announcer of the New York Philharmonic’s radio concert series. (“Asked about his favorite performances, he rattled them off: ‘The Solti Mahler Ninth. Any Copland with Slatkin when he was in St. Louis. I like the Mahler cycle that Tilson Thomas did.’ ”) Flip to the gossip pages of the New York Daily News and there’s an item about his donating a million dollars to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to establish a scholarship fund. Check in at Gawker and there’s a photo of Baldwin with NY1 news anchor Pat Kiernan under the unsarcastic headline new york’s two favorite people, together at last. Turn on cable’s Turner Classic Movies and he’s jawing about his favorite celluloids with host Robert Osborne. And he will co-host this year’s Academy Awards presentation with Steve Martin, one of his co-stars in Nancy Meyers’s romantic comedy It’s Complicated. As this is being written, word is percolating through the movie blogs that he may even notch a best-actor-in-a-supporting-role nomination for It’s Complicated, which would really be the cherry on top.
A veteran combatant in the fine art of acrimony, the bruised mascot for the male midlife crisis, Baldwin has managed to entice everybody into his corner without going soft or sweet, abjuring the dreaded Robin Williams crinkle- twinkle. Near ly every body enjoys Baldwin now, even if he often doesn’t seem to enjoy himself that much, his lacerating honesty never entirely insulated from self-loathing.
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Ed here: James Wolcott is one of our finest writers. a fine, honest and wise man in an era clamorous with fools. And Baldwin is one of our best actors. Be sure to read this one. Excellent stuff.