Alec Baldwin vows to quit public life, adds Rachel Maddow to ever-growing enemies list

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Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

TMZ, the New York Post, and their ilk have had a lot of fun with Alec Baldwin over the years. A lot of fun. But the embattled former 30 Rock star has had enough, he says in a new New York Magazine cover story: he’s quitting public life. Just think how much the tabloids are going to be missing: They don’t have Alec Baldwin to kick around any more.

The last year has been rough on Baldwin professionally. Privately, it’s been a time of great joy, as he and his wife, Hilaria, welcomed a baby daughter. But even that blessing has been marred by several highly-publicized incidents with paparazzi whom Baldwin says have crossed the line and instigated confrontations. One of those confrontations resulted in accusations that Baldwin had uttered a gay pejorative, leading to his being branded a homophobe by several high-profile out media personalities. As a result, his newly-launched MSNBC talk show, in hindsight, was doomed to failure. Throw in his less momentous but even more fascinating Broadway pissing match with the formerly famous Shia LaBeouf, and Baldwin has had enough. In a 5,284-word confession that is half apology, half Nixonian diatribe, Baldwin settles old scores, makes new enemies, and announces that he’s probably done with New York. “There’s been a shift in my life,” he says. “And it’s caused me to step back and say, This is happening for a reason.”

On the way out the door, he slams a multitude of famous people for incompetence, phoniness, or outright stupidity. If Baldwin is sincere in his intention to retire from the spotlight — at least in the sense of participating in public discourse, both important and frivolous — his final blast was a corker. But I suspect his growing list of enemies will respond, denying him the final word.

1. Rachel Maddow
What Baldwin said: “Another [MSNBC employee] told me, regarding the ‘toxic little queen’ comment, that Rachel Maddow was the prime mover in my firing, as she was aghast that I had been hired and viewed me as equivalent to Mel Gibson. Another source told me, ‘You know who’s going to get you fired, don’t you? Rachel. Phil will do whatever Rachel tells him to do.’ I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.”

2. Shia LaBeouf
What Baldwin said: “There was friction between us from the beginning. LaBeouf seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes. When he came to rehearsal, he was told it was important to memorize his lines. … I, however, do not learn my lines in advance. So he began to sulk because he felt we were slowing him down. You could tell right away he loves to argue. And one day he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, ‘You’re slowing me down, and you don’t know your lines. And if you don’t say your lines, I’m just going to keep saying my lines.’

“We all sat, frozen. I snorted a bit, and, turning to him in front of the whole cast, I asked, ‘If I don’t say my words fast enough, you’re going to just say your next line?’ I said. ‘You realize the lines are written in a certain order?’ He just glared at me.

“So I asked the company to break. And I took the stage manager, with Sullivan, to another room, and I said one of us is going to go. I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll go.’ I said don’t fire the kid, I’ll quit. They said no, no, no, no, and they fired him. And I think he was shocked. He had that card, that card you get when you make films that make a lot of money that gives you a certain kind of entitlement. I think he was surprised that it didn’t work in the theater.”

3. Harvey Levin and TMZ
What Baldwin said: “Harvey Levin exists in his own universe. He’s this kind of cretinous barnacle on the press. Levin told the world that that muffled sound on the video — Levin wanted everyone to know he knows what it is. You don’t know, and I don’t know, but Levin knows, and he tells the world that it’s ‘faggot.’

“I get angry, and I’ve said all sorts of things in anger, but I’d never use that word. Levin has so little regard for the truth, which is odd, knowing he was once a legal correspondent for the CBS affiliate in L.A. He’s also the one who revealed the tape that my ex-wife’s lawyers provided of me yelling at my daughter seven years ago. Knowing that none of it would have transpired if I hadn’t left the message in the first place, I think he hurt my daughter more than anyone.”

4. The Huffington Post
What Baldwin said: “If the Huffington Post went out of business tomorrow, what difference would it make? Arianna Huffington accomplished what she wanted to accomplish. She created this wonderful thing. And what have they done with that? They want clicks, I get it. They’ve gotta have clicks for their advertisers, so they’re going to need as much Kim Kardashian and wardrobe malfunctions as possible. The other day, they had a thing on the home page about pimples. Tripe. Liberal and conservative media are now precisely equivalent.”

5. MSNBC’s Morning Joe
What Baldwin said:Morning Joe was boring. Scarborough is neither eloquent nor funny. And merely cranky doesn’t always work well in the morning. Mika B. is the Margaret Dumont of cable news.”

6. MSNBC chief Phil Griffin
What Baldwin said: “Phil Griffin is the head of MSNBC, and when I saw that Griffin didn’t have a single piece of paper on his desk, meeting after meeting after meeting, that should have been my first indication there was going to be a problem. Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming — and couldn’t give a flying f-ck about content. All he wanted to talk about was Giants tickets, Super Bowl tickets, restaurants, movies. The conversations about the set, about the physical production of the show, cameras, lighting — it seemed like he wanted to get those over with as quickly as possible. He didn’t care. He had four monitors on the wall. They were all on, muted. He never listened to them. He never watched them.”

7. Anderson Cooper
What Baldwin said: “In my rage, however, I called [a London Daily Mail reporter] a ‘toxic little queen,’ and, thus, Anderson Cooper, the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture, suggested I should be “vilified,” in his words. I didn’t feel bad about the incident. He lied about my wife. They say this is what comes with stardom — I don’t agree with you.”

Note: Baldwin still has difficulties with offensive language; at one point in the piece, he refers to someone as “an F-to-M tranny.”

8. Rob Lowe
What Baldwin said: “The first name they came up with [as a guest] was Rob Lowe. They said, Rob Lowe’s going to be in the building. Do you want to interview Rob? I said, “Not particularly.” Rob’s a famous star of films, TV. He’s Rob Lowe. He’s famous. But there’s no shortage of outlets for him. And they looked at me like, You really don’t get it. I think they thought, You should have just said yes, simply to play the game.”

Note: To be fair, this anecdote was part of Baldwin’s complaint against MSNBC, and not meant as a direct swipe at Lowe. Still, it seems belligerent to pick Lowe as an example of someone too famous to be interviewed on Baldwin’s show. Lorne Michaels and Jerry Seinfeld, two of his other podcast guests, certainly aren’t hard-pressed for press. Too famous seems to be Baldwin’s code for “Not Interesting Enough” — though he did once spend 38 minutes chatting with Andrew McCarthy on his podcast. Lowe quickly tweeted: “Mightta done the show, if it helped.

9. New York City
What Baldwin said: “I probably have to move out of New York. I just can’t live in New York anymore. Everything I hated about L.A. I’m beginning to crave. L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed. Manhattan is like Beverly Hills. And the soul of New York has moved to Brooklyn, where everything new and exciting seems to be. I have to accept that. I want my newest child to have as normal and decent a life as I can provide. New York doesn’t seem the place for that anymore.”

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