The Baldwin who spoke at the National Press Club Monday was a bit of both: The Alec Baldwin who gets the whole Alec Baldwin joke.
The topic was government funding of the arts, but the “30 Rock” star had something he wanted to get off his chest first: “Let’s talk about American Airlines,” he said. Oh, yes: When he infamously sparred with flight staff after refusing to shut off his phone. He imitated the attendant murmuring to him in cultured tones, Mr. Baldwin, will you gather your things and come with me, please? Then “they threw me off the plane!” he exclaimed. “And there were seven or eight people had their phones out who were tweeting this. . . Not my day. Bad luck.”
Old grudge thus aired, Baldwin shifted deftly into celebvocate gear. Scheduled to lead a delegation of arts folks in a lobbying push Tuesday, he ticked off the names of lawmakers friendly to the cause, and those unfriendly (pointedly listing recent arts grants to their districts). He noted that funding has shrunk over the past 20 years, when adjusted for inflation. “I’d spend a billion each on the NEA and NEH,” he said. “The artistic experience in my life comes to me the same way it comes to you,” he added. “I can afford to buy a ticket. . . but a lot of people can’t.”
Question from the room full of journalists: How has Twitter changed his life?
“The best thing about Twitter,” he said, tongue slightly in cheek, “is it allows me to bypass people like you.”
Read also: TV Column: Alec Baldwin says he’ll stay with ‘30 Rock’ through next year, 4/16/12.