Brow Beat

Alec Baldwin on Canceling Harassers’ Projects: “A Lot of the Innocent People are Going to Suffer”

Alec Baldwin with James Toback in 2013.


Last month we spoke to the “other victims” of the sexual harassment rife in the arts and media: those actors and writers who have lost time, work, opportunities, or potential breaks as a result of the cancellation of the projects of the powerful men who have been rightfully taken down.

Between Louis C.K.’s I Love, You, Daddy (pulled from release), James Toback’s The Private Life of a Modern Woman (future unclear), and Leon Wieseltier’s pending magazine, Idea: A Journal of Politics and Culture (canceled), hundreds of innocent people have been affected by this long-overdue sexual reckoning, by the fact that these harassers had grown so big that they brought down entire projects with them when they fell. While all those we spoke to said they were glad that justice was being served, this moment is bittersweet for new actors like Billy K. Peterson, who is disappointed his break as the logo of C.K.’s production company won’t be seen, while Nick Mathews—Sal in Toback’s The Private Life of a Modern Woman—lost a project that was “kind of a big deal for me.”

Alec Baldwin, a friend of James Toback, also worked on The Private Life of a Modern Woman. When asked what he felt should happen with Toback’s film and projects like it during an NYU journalism class on Monday afternoon, Baldwin referred me to those financially impacted by the repudiation of Stephen Collins’ 7th Heaven, saying innocent people lose out when we overpunish their projects.:

The idea that, to the extent that you can explain to people that a property like Stephen Collins is accused of being a pedophile, and they’re going to take his show off the air and they’re not going to distribute it and all earning potential and the residuals for that cast, that large cast, they all lose income stream as a result of that. I think that’s a very important question, whether that’s right. The art vs the artist you know. This with Woody Allen, is always very painful, because Allen is one of the few men who was accused of a sex abuse who was examined by two child services entities and their forensic psychiatrists in two states, because he live in New York and Connecticut, and his ex-wife who was really wanted to make her case, he was examined and found not guilty by both of them… Did he marry his stepchild? Yeah. He married his wife’s child, but did he molest the other child? Both the state of Connecticut and New York ruled no. So when people sit there and say “you should never, shame on you”… Ellen Page, who came out and renounced, and said I’m so humiliated that I worked with Woody, I did that movie with her, To Rome with Love, and when she said that, I mean I like and admire Ellen, but I was kind of taken aback that she said that, I thought, “Be specific. You hate and you renounce working with Allen, because of which part? That he married Soon-Yi or that he molested his step-daughter? Because he wasn’t guilty of the one as far as everybody knows…

But erase the work of the person? I don’t know because a lot of the innocent people are going to suffer. I think it’s different from like, when they said, “oh we’ll cancel the movie, we’ll cancel the show,” because then that person continues to earn and make money. But I thought it was a shame to deny all those people the residuals from that 7th Heaven program when Collins got nailed, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that with other people. Like, should Louis C.K.’s whole menu come off of HBO? Maybe I don’t know, that’s really not for me to say. But I think it’s unfortunate for people who rely on residual income. …A lot of people, you know, they get a check for $6000 at the end of the year, it makes a big difference in their lives.

Baldwin also clarified that he did not expect to be hanging out too often with “Jimmy” in the future.