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Posted at 06:08 PM ET, 12/12/2011

Alec Baldwin gets PR advantage on ‘Saturday Night Live’ after airline incident


Alec Baldwin (© GUS RUELAS / Reuters - REUTERS)

One of the big advantages to starring in a Lorne Michaels sitcom on NBC is that when you throw a tantrum on an American Airlines flight, causing it to be delayed, and you to be de-planed, you get the considerable forum of Lorne Michaels’ NBC late night show “Saturday Night Live” that very weekend to spin your latest temper flare-up into PR gold while, you know, American Airlines does not.

“On Wednesday of this week actor Alec Baldwin was kicked of an American Airlines flight after he refused to turn off his phone and stop playing Words with Friends,” “SNL’s” Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers said during last weekend’s episode.

“Now here to comment: the pilot of that flight – Capt. Steve Rogers.”

Huge applause. Capt. Steve was, of course, Baldwin. Seth asked the captain for his take on the events of last week.

In case you were sleeping: Baldwin, star of NBC’s “30 Rock,” and co-star of TCM’s “The Essentials,” got removed from an American Airlines flight last week after refusing to turn off his mobile device while the plane was still at the gate but readying to push off for take-off.

You know how, when the door is closed for departure and the seat belt light is turned on and the flight attendant tells everyone they have to turn off their electronic devices. Well, Baldwin was playing Words with Friends on his cell phone, and felt that he should be awarded a celebrity exemption to the Mobile Devices Must Be Turned Off Now Rule.

The flight attendant felt otherwise. According to the airline, Baldwin stood up and took his self and his phone into the plane bathroom, slamming the door so hard the cockpit crew became alarmed and asked the flight crew, “What the heck?” Unpleasant words were exchanged; Baldwin was removed from the flight and he was put on a later one. And, when he finally landed at JFK airport, he tweeted a complaint that the flight attendant on American “reamed me out for playing Words with Friends while we sat at the gate, not moving.” He also observed that American Airlines is “where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950s find jobs as flight attendants,” and other bon mots.

Things got really catty Wednesday when a rep of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants noted, “There is a difference between being funny and being mean,” adding “Flight attendants haves not been the only recipient of Alec Baldwin’s ill temper.”

Ooh snap! That reference is, of course, to the incident a few years back in which Baldwin called his then very young daughter, Ireland, a “rude, thoughtless little pig” in a phone message, which somehow found its way to the press during one of those rounds between Baldwin and his ex-wife, Kim Basinger.

“If Alec Baldwin needed emergency help on a flight then the ‘retired Catholic school gym teachers’ would save his life for another day of expressing himself,” the flight attendants association rep continued.

Baldwin, meanwhile, deleted his Twitter account.

Back to Baldwin, spinning on “SNL”:

“It was awful, Seth, which is why it was important for me to come here tonight and, on behalf of everyone at American Airlines, issue an apology to Mr. Alec Baldwin,” Capt. Rogers, aka Baldwin, told Seth.

“So, Let me get this straight. You, Capt. Rogers, want to apologize to Alec Baldwin?” Seth faux wondered.

“Yes. Mister Baldwin is an American treasure and I’m ashamed at the way he was treated. I mean, what harm would it do to let him continue his game -- not any game, mind you, but a word game for smart people,” Baldwin noted.

Don’t cell phones interfere with plane communications systems? Seth asked.

“You don’t believe that do, you Seth?” Capt. Steve shot back. “Would you really get on an air plane that flew 30,000 feet in the air if you thought one Kindle switch could take it down? Come on! It’s just a cruel joke perpetrated by the airline industry. And, we would have gotten way with it, but Alec Baldwin was just too smart for us. He really is something, Seth!”

But didn’t Baldwin’s hissy fit delay takeoff, Seth asked.

“It did, and it’s the first time in the history of American Airlines that one of our flights was delayed. Come on Seth! We’re bankrupt! How dare we speak ill of the great Alec Baldwin when we can’t even take off on time.”

Meyers also noted that when Baldwin retreated to the airplane bathroom, he’d reportedly slammed bathroom door so loud it was heard by the pilots in the cockpit.

Now, Seth, Words with Friends can be frustrating. I just started playing the game myself, , but when you think you’re about to play “jailers” off of someone’s “quiche” and then you realize you don’t have the “i” let me tell you, that would make you slam the bathroom door too!”

NBC says it still has no comment on the whole Baldwin vs. American Airlines kerfuffle. Meanwhile, the AA flight attendants union reportedly has made enquires about removing Michaels’ sitcom “30 Rock” from rotation on American Airlines in-flight entertainment slate.

By  |  06:08 PM ET, 12/12/2011

 
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