11:15pm PT by Lauren Huff
Alec Baldwin Talks Weinstein, Trump, #MeToo in Talk Show Debut
Alec Baldwin stepped into his new hosting duties Sunday night as his talk show, Sundays With Alec Baldwin, premiered on ABC after the Academy Awards. He welcomed first guests Jerry Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon.
Throughout the hourlong premiere, the actor engaged in in-depth conversations with both stars, touching on topics that ranged from pivotal moments in their career, the #MeToo movement and political impersonations on SNL.
Seinfeld served as the series' first guest, and he and Baldwin discussed the Seinfeld star's comedy roots and how he has maintained a calm demeanor despite cultivating massive success throughout his career. “I feel very bad for people who have had enormous success and don’t seem to have ingested any nutrition from it,” Seinfeld explained to Baldwin.
Further discussing the industry, Seinfeld took a moment to comment on the #MeToo movement. "It isn't amazing the number of people. What is amazing is the speed and efficiency of the system of justice that has taken shape so quickly ... the number of people, and who they are and what they're doing, that doesn't surprise me," Seinfeld said, with Baldwin admitting that he's somewhat surprised of the "ding dong, the witch is dead" mentality that has occurred.
The pair then discussed a few of the "horrible people" who have "self-destructed," including Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. (C.K. admitted to multiple instances of sexual misconduct last year, after fellow comedians went public with their stories about him. Anthony Rapp came forward with accusations that Spacey made inappropriate advances toward him when he was 14 years old.) Though C.K. has worked with Seinfeld "many times," the comedian admitted that never had any sense that anything was wrong. Meanwhile, Baldwin shared that Spacey was someone who considered fame important. "I love Kevin, but Kevin was the president of Kevin's fan club," Baldwin jabbed at the actor.
Seinfeld also mentioned that despite the turmoil that Hollywood men have endured, the #MeToo and Time's Up movements seem like a "necessary bowel movement that the culture has to have." The pair then made fun of Harvey Weinstein's appearance, joking that "he's perfectly cast in the role" that he has been given following the dozens of sexual assault allegations made against him.
With McKinnon, since she and Baldwin have both taken on impressions of presidential candidates on SNL, the actors were quick to discuss their feelings about the political figures, with McKinnon admitting that she doesn't like to disclose her political opinions out of fear of alienating audiences. “I like to make people laugh and I like to connect with everybody,” she said, also adding that the show has "established a connection" with its audience.
With SNL taking on more political content, McKinnon said that the show has sparked curiosity with viewers. "It did feel like suddenly people were watching what SNL's take on all of this was going to be. It felt like we were getting to interpret and shape maybe how people were feeling about it and provide a little bit of a catharsis."
Though having played a surplus of characters on SNL, McKinnon said that her impersonation of Clinton was one she "grew to love." "All of the characters I've played I've experienced a falling in love with, but ... I loved her in real life ... and grew to love this mangled and twisted character that we had created out of her. And I still love whenever I get to put on that wig. I feel like, 'She's back.'"
Meanwhile, Baldwin says he shared opposite feelings when playing Trump, "I wanted to spend as little time examining him as possible," Baldwin said, then referring to his impression as a "whoopee cushion." "It's simple, monochromatic. I don't want to think too much about who he is or where he goes to."
Baldwin's explanation was not the first time the actor has admitted to disliking impersonating Trump. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Baldwin described impersonating Trump as "agony." "Every time I do it now, it's like agony. Agony. I can't." The comment caught Trump's attention, soon trading online barbs with the actor on Twitter. The president, who has expressed his dislike for the actor's impersonation, jabbed that it's "agony for those who were forced to watch."
Baldwin ended his discussion with McKinnon, asking whether the comedian would be interested in taking on more serious roles, to which she replied, "I would like to see if I could."
ABC released teasers for the talk show's premiere earlier this week, hinting at Baldwin's aim to engage in in-depth discussions with his guests. For the time being, ABC has stayed mum on its timeline for future airdates of Sundays With Alec Baldwin. The actor also hosts ABC’s Match Game (now in its third season), has a podcast and has an ongoing stint impersonating Trump on SNL in addition to his new talk show.
Baldwin’s ABC series, which ABC announced last month, marks the actor’s second attempt at a talk show, having formerly attempted a short-lived MSNBC series, Up Late With Alec Baldwin in 2013. With his new television endeavor, Baldwin will feature two interviews per episode that will collectively stretch the broadcast’s entire hour.
In an interview with THR, Baldwin had previously discussed his hopes for his new show. "I'm not [Jimmy] Fallon or someone who's gotta do 200 shows a year and you're on five nights a week for 40 weeks — we're exempt from that kind of pressure. Why don't we try it and see if we get people who are more camera-ready? I wouldn't mind interviewing Jennifer Lawrence or somebody if we could find an angle that was different or fresh.”