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Alec Baldwin chats: MSNBC show and his 'Seduced and Abandoned' film

October 28, 2013|By Yvonne Villarreal
  • Filmmaker James Toback, left, and Alec Baldwin in the HBO documentary "Seduced and Abandoned," which airs on HBO on Oct. 28, 2013.
Filmmaker James Toback, left, and Alec Baldwin in the HBO documentary "Seduced… (HBO )

Airing Monday night on HBO, "Seduced and Abandoned" is a meta-documentary in which actor Alec Baldwin and his filmmaker pal James Toback take a look at the arbitrary deal-making process behind today's movie business.

Toback and Baldwin roamed the Cannes Film Festival last year, documenting the arduous -- and crushing -- prices of getting a film financed and made. The likes of Roman Polanksi, Martin Scorcese, Ryan Gosling and others offer their commentary and reservations about the industry as Tobak, who directs and stars, and Baldwin, who stars, try to pitch a movie they dub "Last Tango in Tikrit," an Iraq War-set romance with much "exploratory sex."

Baldwin, whose movie career has mostly given way to TV, spoke with Show Tracker about the film last week just before taping the next installment of his new MSNBC talk show, which also got some talk time.

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You're not on your way to Pilates class, are you? I feel like every time I have you on the phone, that's where you're going.

I’m at MSNBC, which is the opposite of Pilates class. Pilates strengthens you, empowers you, enriches you, it helps the life force to flow to the extremities of your body — are we recording this, I hope? It brings chi from your fingertips to your toes. MSNBC sucks the life out of you. It’s a digital vampire that’s killing me, inch by inch every day.

You know how to get quoted, Baldwin! I feel like I’m getting to know the Twitter you.

Mmm, yeah. It’s been tough. It’s been tough. It’s been tough.

Let’s look on the bright side: congrats on the baby!

Yeah, that’s been great. It’s been great. Really. It’s the greatest thing in the world. I just wish I was rich—

You’re not rich?

I mean really rich. There’s rich and then there’s effing rich.

I’m nowhere near either of those, so …

Well, but you’re rich in other ways. I can hear it in your voice. Look at how happy you sound. Listen to how half-dead I sound. And that’s from MSNBC.

Yeah, I don’t have a talk show … yet.

Consider yourself lucky, because it’s hard. All my complaining, by the way, is sarcasm, readers. I love MSNBC, particularly Phil Griffin, who runs MSNBC. I think the issue has been booking people. It’s really hard booking people.

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I’m available.

Oh, you want to come do the show? You want to do a show about Pilates?

Let’s do it. But first, let’s talk about “Seduced and Abandoned.” What initially went through your mind when James told you his plan for this?

Well, he and I had talked about making a film. And we talked a lot. We met many, many times. Jimmy is a friend of mine. We talked a lot about a film we’d want to make. And we found out — as we ruminated and did some writing and very serious thinking about a film we wanted to do,  the Cannes Film Festival came looming. And I just blurted out this idea to him: Why don’t we go and film the pitching of a movie. We don’t even have to have a script ready.  We don’t even really have to have a movie to make. Let’s go and pretend we have a movie to make and pitch it at Cannes. We sold the idea to a bunch of investors, these three guys (Alan Helene, Larry Herbert, Neal Schneider), and they gave us the money needed.  It was complicated because Cannes is a place — well, I don’t want to say it’s a place where people let their hair down. It’s not about behaving in any way with a mentality of “get that camera away from me.” It’s the opposite, there’s cameras on them all the time. It’s a big, big press event. But we went there. When they talk to you, they certainly don’t intend to let their guard down. They’re there for business and they want to speak very cautiously. To get them to speak more candidly about where the movie business is at, that’s tough to do. But we succeeded in getting many of the people we wanted to talk to us. Many obliged us. And many of them spoke rather candidly about the movie business — and some of them, very constructively. Like Scorsese, probably the greatest when he said, “We have to find ways to make movies around these people” — meaning the people who we felt were more kind of the merchant types, who are much more concerned about monetizing the whole thing.

You and James give your own thoughts on the industry's aim for blockbusters and franchises — and the films you do for yourself and the ones one must do for “them.” Talk about that.

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