Alec Baldwin sat down with the “Wall Street Journal” to discuss his philanthropic efforts — and the possibility that he will run for public office.
Some people may have been surprised to see Baldwin, beloved, progressive star of ’30 Rock,’ shilling for a big bank like Capital One. Before you panic, thinking Baldwin sold out, be aware that he’s donating his earnings to art-based causes, including $1 million to the New York Philharmonic, and striking a deal in which Capital One will match up to $50,000 for every public dollar given on its website.
The arrangement can be traced back to 2009, when Baldwin recorded a spot for Hulu, which in turn opened the flood gates for more commercial offers. Rather than pocketing the cash, though, Baldwin decided to give the money away.
“When I did that Hulu spot in 2009, I gave all the money I received to my alma mater, New York University,” he told ‘Wall Street Journal’ reporter Marshall Heyman.
I had a couple of people come to me to do more advertisements. When you do commercials in the U.S., people don’t always smile on that. There’s a perceived negative frailty. With Capital One, the point isn’t me getting money and then giving it to charity. It’s about Capital One partnering with me. They’re joining me with this online component and this is something I want to build with them.
This is a platform to discuss the idea that we can’t forget arts funding. One of the four spots we’re doing is a straight arts pitch. I get out of a car at Lincoln Center and say ‘New York has a lot of everything. It’s also home to my favorite place on Earth.’
Baldwin’s largesse is certainly noble, but totally in character: the 52-year old actor regularly uses his fame and influence to move personal causes forward, and has previously supported PETA, public radio and marriage equality.
Considering his politically-charged private life, it’s no wonder Baldwin has mulled a campaign, telling Heyman “maybe” he would run, or “At least find a way to help people figure out where the money should go. How uncreative these bastards [in government] can be down there.”
This isn’t the first time Baldwin’s fanned such rumors: he told “New York” magazine in 2006 that if he were to run, he would aim for New York governor.
The next New York gubernatorial race rolls around in 2014, and if current Governor Andrew Cuomo runs, you can bet Democrat Baldwin will sit it out. If Cuomo doesn’t run, though, that would increase the odds of a Baldwin campaign.
You can be sure, though, that Republicans would launch a fierce battle against him, perhaps highlighting the fact that in 1998, as the nation debated a potential Bill Clinton impeachment, Baldwin joked on ‘Late Night with Conan’ that if we lived in another country, Henry Hyde, a Republican congressman who led the charge against Clinton, would be “stoned to death.”
“We would go to their homes and kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families, for what they’re doing to this country,” he remarked, and later apologized.
If that attack didn’t stick — and odds are it wouldn’t — they would tap his conservative brother, anti-gay Stephen Baldwin, to launch a smear campaign. And if they still came up short, Tea Party activists would somehow twist Alec’s Capital One deal, using bank-backed proceeds to support the arts, into a socialist agenda.
Something tells me, however, that Baldwin, an astute, intelligent and, most importantly, disarmingly mellow activist, would still come out on top.
So, reader, if Baldwin were to run for office in the future, would you vote for him?