Alec Baldwin to Charlie Sheen: “Beg for Your Job Back”

When people ask me if I’m a “writer,” I always say no. I tell them I’m “aspiring.” The reason? Every so often I read articles like the one Alec Baldwin just wrote for Huffington Post, and it’s confirmed that I have a lot of work to do before I get there. Baldwin wrote an open letter to Charlie Sheen, and it’s brilliant. He told Sheen to “beg for his job back,” and he shared a very personal anecdote that illustrated his own frustrations with the entertainment industry. When I studied film in college, my professor actually discussed this story about Baldwin, and he told the class that Baldwin turned down the opportunity to star in the sequels to The Hunt for Red October, because he wanted to star in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in hopes that it would solidify his status as an A-list actor. My professor said it’s considered one of the greatest blunders in Hollywood history. After reading Alec Baldwin’s recanting of what really happened, I’m convinced that Baldwin would kill my professor.  It turns out the the movie studio (Paramount) was negotiating simultaneous deals with Alec Baldwin and another A-list actor for the same part, thus breaking the law.  The movie studio owed this unnamed actor money for a previous deal that fell apart, and casting him in Alec’s role would not only save them money, but potentially help their film by casting someone who’s a bigger box-office draw.  The studio knew Alec wanted to star in the play, and they insisted that the production schedule could not accommodate Baldwin.  The implication from Baldwin’s letter is that the studio played hard-ball in hopes that Alec would drop out so they could employ the other actor.  If that’s true, it worked.  So what’s the thesis of Baldwin’s lesson?  “You can’t win,” and “no actor is greater than the show itself when the show is a hit.”  He therefore thinks Sheen should “sober up,” “get back on TV” and “buy John Cryer a really nice car.”

Vintage Movie Clip: A Streetcar Named Desire — “Hey, Stella!”

I watched A Streetcar Named Desire during a Screen on the Green in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.  When Marlon Brando yelled, “Stella,” the entire audience erupted in applause, including people in surrounding houses that heard the line through their windows.  I had obviously heard the famous line uttered in the past, but when I saw the movie for the first time, I’m not sure I entirely understood why it became so famous.  Perhaps it’s the quality of the movie as a whole, coupled by Brando’s dreamy six-pack?  Or maybe when a man screams out a woman’s name, an audience remembers it?  That theory would certainly explain the historical prowess of “Adrian!”  Elia Kazan directed the film, and Vivien Leigh played Brando’s wife.  Kazan also directed the original Broadway show, and all of the cast members except Leigh starred in the Broadway show.  The interesting thing about the film is that Tennessee Williams’ original play left the ending ambiguous as to whether Stella and Stanley stayed together, but the movie ending made it clear that she left him.  In Tennessee’s memoirs, he said the movie was “marvelous,” but only “slightly marred by a Hollywood ending.”