Digested week: Alec Baldwin on gun control? Silence would be preferable
When one thinks of Alec Baldwin – as this week’s news cycle sadly ensures one must – humility isn’t the first quality that springs to mind. Baldwin’s persona hinges on a comedic bombast that the 64-year-old carries over from the screen into life. Even for a man who threatens photographers in the street, yells at airline stewards and rashly tweets and deletes, however, his apparent blitheness in the wake of [checks notes] shooting and killing someone accidentally on the set of his last film has been quite something to behold.
A period of silent reflection, silent contemplation, or silence of any description at all would seem to be the minimum requirement for someone in Baldwin’s position. Instead, in the 12 months following the death of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins in Bonanza City, New Mexico, he has been bouncing about as usual on Twitter, sharing opinions, making jokes, and speaking out about – oh, yes, gun control. Perhaps your voice, Alec, isn’t the one America needs on this subject right now.
At the beginning of the week, Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer on the film Rust, were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer, after Baldwin fired what he thought was an unloaded gun. Both deny responsibility. Both are accused by prosecutors of a flippancy amounting to negligence. A brief Google search shows the 25-year-old Gutierrez-Reed posing with guns on Instagram prior to the accident.
As for Baldwin: prosecutors allege that his pattern of thoughtlessness included not being arsed to turn up to mandatory firearms safety training before filming began, and, when he did show up to a rescheduled session, failing to pay attention because he was on the phone. Perhaps he was talking to his wife, Hillary Thomas from Boston, who, in line with the apparently endlessly flexible realities of the household, snapped at journalists last week in what still appears to be a fake Spanish accent.
If only the original Gawker still existed, it would be having a field day with all this. As it is, the defunct gossip site, which relaunched under new ownership in 2021 after being put out of business in 2016, has died (again). Nick Denton’s original Gawker, a much shrewder and less shouty product than the website’s current incarnation, was destroyed, if you recall, by a lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, which was covertly paid for – much like the parasitic fungus animating the zombies in the current HBO hit The Last of Us – by Peter Thiel. Two years later, Bryan Goldberg, of Bustle Digital Group, picked up the title in a bankruptcy auction for $1.35m (£1.1m). This week, after struggling to find a place for itself in a media landscape where – see also: Wonkette – it’s hard to attract eyeballs via snark and swearing alone, the closure announcement came from editor Leah Finnegan, with the loss of many journalists’ jobs and the sound of the last whisper of the end of an era.
Few of us would survive the public exposure of our texts or emails, so it was hard not to feel some sympathy for Eva Green, the actor, this week as her private messages were read out in the high court. Green is suing White Lantern Films and SMC Speciality finance for alleged non-payment of fees for her appearance in the canned sci-fi movie A Patriot, while the producers are suing her back for breach of contract.
Actually, by the standards of most workplace grumbling, Green’s messages struck me as quite mild, the 42-year-old Frenchwoman complaining via WhatsApp that the movie’s director was “weak and stupid”, that one of the film’s investors was a “fucking nightmare”, and that the movie itself was “bullshit,” all of which, despite her protestations that hearing the chats read out in court had “humiliated” her, made one rather warm to the woman. The only remark that really threatened Green’s image was her drive-by reference to the “shitty peasant crew members from Hampshire”, the kind of insult that, in the old days, would have required her to go on a grovelling meet-the-peasants PR tour of Basingstoke before she was allowed near a film set again.
Like opening an ancient crypt or disturbing a cave buried for thousands of years, we know it’s a bad idea to try to bring something back from extinction. Scientists in their wisdom, however, are confident that with a mere $150m investment, the dodo, poster boy for extinct species which disappeared from Earth in the 17th century, may have a shot at being re-animated.
Before this ends in a T rex devouring your grandma on the way to the post office, it presents problems of a lower but still aggravating order. If the dodo returns, what, in common parlance, may we say things are as dead as? A passenger pigeon? A Pyrenean Ibex? A sabre-toothed tiger? None quite has the ring of things being as dead as a dodo, a consideration – along with many others – that has almost certainly been overlooked by the gene editing company. This outfit, by the way, which is behind a range of other “de-extinction projects”, including bringing back the woolly mammoth, is called Colossal Biosciences, a 100% legit-sounding company and not something that sounds as if it has been made up by a Hollywood hack on tight deadline.
We head into a weekend of excitement tinged with sadness as Sunday night brings our last engagement with Sarah Lancashire, her massive jacket and huge fringe, as the final episode of Happy Valley airs. Sometimes, the old ways are best, and the slow, weekly release of episodes has brought us to a point of unity and anticipation you just don’t get from a binge.
Whichever way the shows ends – a tenner says Ryan betrays his murderous dad – there is at least the promise of more good TV on the horizon. While you can keep the magic of White Lotus season two alive by renting Daphne and Harper’s Sicilian villa on Airbnb (for just $5,957 a night), Mike White, its creator, was recently spotted at a Four Seasons in Thailand. Stand by for a season three packed with – I’m guessing – high-end Aussie tourists, trespassing British backpackers, and the return of all of our favourite American grotesques.