Alec Baldwin, who has lived in New York since 1979, recently wrote an essay in which he bids the city goodbye and indicates he will be moving to Los Angeles, a city he has admittedly hated in the past. The piece was published on yesterday’s cover of New York Magazine, and beneath Baldwin’s byline and photo was written “as told to Joe Hagan.” In addition to saying he was leaving the Big Apple, Baldwin said he is also leaving public life and will no longer appear on shows like Saturday Night Live, late night talk shows and so on, but will focus on his family and his acting. In a similar but much less highly publicized incident, Baldwin told Men’s Journal in 2009 that he was no longer interested in acting and that he planned to quit the business at the end of his 30 Rock contract, which was in 2012. He later retracted that statement and claimed his intent had been misunderstood.
Baldwin, the oldest of four actor brothers, has been the most successful in his acting career. In recent years he has appeared in films such as To Rome with Love, It’s Complicated, My Sister’s Keeper and My Best Friend’s Girl, but he has perhaps gotten the most attention for his role as network boss Jack Donaghy on TV’s 30 Rock with Tina Fey. Recently Baldwin reports being disappointed by his real-life network boss, Phil Griffin of MSNBC. Baldwin had a one-year contract for a talk show on MSNBC. In the past several months he has been through a series of apparently harrowing public incidents that have greatly affected his personal life and career, and reports having emails that prove Griffin said he would have Baldwin’s back, but when the time came, the actor was fired under the morality clause of his contract. This may have been the final straw in why Alec Baldwin is now saying goodbye to public life and to New York.
In November 2013 Alec Baldwin was putting his family into a car when a photographer he recognized from TMZ, and who he describes as aggressive, rode past and was trying to get a photograph. The reporter allegedly got so close that the lens of his camera came very close to Baldwin’s child’s head, and the actor, livid, ran after him down the street yelling profanities, which he admits. What he does not admit is having used the word “faggot,” but Harvey Levin of TMZ, who Baldwin already has a shaky relationship with, publicly reported that the word is “faggot.” The sound at that point is not entirely clear as Baldwin has his back to the camera and is at some distance. Baldwin insists he did not say that, but has had a backlash of negative publicity from people like Anderson Cooper, Andrew Sullivan and Levin. That negative publicity led to MSNBC saying goodbye to Baldwin, who was let go without having his contract honored in terms of payment-to-date, and who has felt scrutinized enough to feel it is necessary to leave New York. There are now photos of the actor with a hand and even a board game in front of his face, and one where he has a sheet draped over his entire body while walking down the sidewalk.
Baldwin, who says he formerly despised L.A., reports now understanding the appeal of living behind a gate and using only your car to get around from one gated location to another. He suggests that Manhattan has become like Beverly Hills, while the soul of the city has relocated to Brooklyn. Saying New York no longer seems like a place he wants to raise his child, he takes issue with how much the world has changed, with everyone now having a camera so that lives formerly under scrutiny are now even more public, to a degree he finds untenable. It is further suggested by the actor that because of how easy it is for people to send in photos, upload articles or even simply tweet, news reporting has become largely about tabloid reporting, even going so far as to name MSNBC and Fox as being on par in a way he finds “superfluous” and “redundant.” These were not the only negative words Alec Baldwin had to say, as the actor—who mentioned in closing he had wanted to run for office in the near future—not only said goodbye to New York, but may have burned other bridges as well.
By Julie Mahfood