Here’s The Thing

One of my very favorite celebrities to actively dislike has always been Alec Baldwin. My superficial disdain had very little to do with his politics, or even that scandalous phone message to his daughter that…let’s be honest, we had no business even hearing about. Actually, I always loved him as the steak-knife-wielding sales manager from Glengarry Glen Ross. Mainly because you were supposed to hate him in that role.

However, my contempt began to tenderize the first time I occasionally would catch a few minutes of 30 Rock. Baldwin, despite playing his normal unlikeable self, ended up being, well…really darn likeable. He plays Jack so honestly and with such vulnerability, it just works. Recently, his mostly silly portrayal of Mark Twain on a PBS tribute to Tina Fey made me laugh out loud—a few times.

And then I discovered Here’s The Thing, Alec Baldwin’s new(ish) podcast.

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He just might be one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard. And he certainly knows how to pick guests.

Okay, sometimes he still sounds pretentious. And he is prone to interrupting his guests and finishing their sentences. But it’s because he cares about getting it right (or so it seems to me). If a point needs clarification, he asks for it. Not only that, he’s charming and insightful and self-deprecating and never runs out of interesting things to ask. Baldwin (or someone on his staff) does his homework, and it shows.

My newfound-yet-reluctant admiration crystallized during an exchange between Baldwin and Ed Rollins, a conservative political strategist. The two men were miles apart idealogically, but agreed to disagree with style and grace and a few good laughs. Television networks and talk radio wonks should take notice. Baldwin’s most recent interview with George Will is even better.

Maybe I’m just growing up. Maybe we both are? I just have less tolerance these days for judgmental attitudes and opinions—especially mine! And Baldwin seems settled, not the arrogant or obnoxious weenie I’d always imagined him being.

I have no plans to join Alec Baldwin’s fan club. I won’t “like” him on Facebook, nor will I follow his Tweets. But I will no longer dismiss his work or his opinions without first tuning in to see what (and how…and to whom) he has to say.

Of course, the timing of all this works out perfectly as I hear he’ll be starring in a new Woody Allen film!

So what about you? Any authors, musicians, politicians, sports figures, or any pop culture mavens that have grown on you?

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