Alec Baldwin Makes the Wrong Call
Saturday, April 21, 2007
All parents get angry at their children, but arguments usually remain in the household. If you're Alec Baldwin and you call your 11-year-old daughter a "rude little pig" on voice mail, however, you no longer can expect your outburst to remain in the family.
Baldwin is the latest celebrity to learn the hard lessons of an instantaneous digital world that can turn a private call into a public embarrassment in a matter of days.
The actor is engaged in a custody battle with his former wife, Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger, over their 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, following a 2002 divorce that spurred nasty name-calling between the two actors.
On April 11 from New York, Baldwin called his daughter in Los Angeles at an arranged time but found that her phone was turned off. He left a profanity-laced, 2-minute-12-second message, berating her for not answering the phone.
"You don't have the brains or decency as a human being," yells Baldwin, who narrates the beloved "Thomas the Tank Engine" animated children's films. "I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old or 11 years old or a child or your mother is a thoughtless pain . . . who doesn't care what you do as far as I'm concerned!"
A recording of the phone call hit the Internet on Thursday afternoon when it was posted on celebrity news site TMZ.com, which has broken nearly every major star-gone-bad story of the past year, from Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic tirade to the grisly details of Anna Nicole Smith's death. By Friday morning, it was Topic A on major talk shows. Baldwin is a noted political liberal, and his voice mail showed up on Rush Limbaugh's program yesterday as the host discoursed on custody battles. Even the hosts on ESPN Radio played the call and devoted extensive airtime to it.
TMZ will not disclose how it got the taped phone call, which spurred Baldwin's lawyer to file a declaration in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday asking the court to force TMZ to reveal the identity of the source. "If [TMZ] had a tape-recorded message between [Baldwin] and the minor child, it had to have originated from [Basinger] or her employees, agents or attorneys," the filing reads.
Through her publicist, Basinger would say only: "The voice mail speaks for itself."
Aside from its titillation value, Baldwin's rant already has had legal consequences. As a result of the call being made public, a Los Angeles judge has temporarily suspended Baldwin's visitation rights at least until a previously scheduled May 4 custody hearing.
Baldwin apologized yesterday in a statement on his Web site:
"I'm sorry, as everyone who knows me is aware, for losing my temper with my child. I have been driven to the edge by parental alienation for many years now."
Hit Entertainment Ltd., which produces the "Thomas the Tank Engine" movies, did not return a call for comment.