Besides being celebrities, Alec Baldwin, Lindsay Lohan, and Rosie O’Donnell don’t seem to have much in common. But in recent weeks, they all made surprising and public decisions to drop out of — or, in Baldwin’s case, ask to be let go from — major gigs. EW examines the fallout for three intensely scrutinized stars who’ve arrived at important career crossroads.
WHAT HAPPENED The endless custody battle between 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin and ex-wife Kim Basinger over their 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, made headlines again on April 19, when a leaked telephone message left by Baldwin for his daughter landed on TMZ.com. Within hours, news that an angry Baldwin had called Ireland a ”rude, thoughtless little pig” in the voice-mail was featured on countless media outlets. Soon thereafter, the Will Ferrell-run website Funny or Die posted a video spoof in which Dora the Explorer intercepts Baldwin’s vitriolic phone call.
THE FALLOUT Unbeknownst to NBC, which airs 30 Rock, an exasperated Baldwin taped an episode of The View on ABC April 25 to discuss the phone incident. During the interview (which aired April 27), Baldwin said that he asked NBC for permission to leave his role as acerbic Jack Donaghy so he could focus on his relationship with his daughter — and finish his forthcoming book, tentatively titled Life After Divorce. (Last week, Baldwin posted on AlecBaldwin.com that he would be shutting down the website in June and relaunching it in the fall to focus solely on his future book projects.) And on the same day he taped The View, Baldwin dropped his reps at CAA.
So what’s really going on? A source close to the actor says Baldwin was ”very emotional” during his appearance on The View, and the actor’s rep, Matthew Hiltzik, confirms Baldwin will definitely return to his Golden Globe- winning Rock role next season. An NBC insider, meanwhile, says an official meeting between Baldwin and the network never even happened. As for his decision to leave CAA, the source close to the actor says that Baldwin’s defection may have been sparked by the fact that the agency continues to represent Basinger. In addition, the source suggests that the actor may end up returning to CAA, and adds, ”Obviously, it’s an emotional time for him. Let’s give him room and not jump to any conclusions.”
WHAT’S NEXT At press time, Baldwin was slated to return to court on May 4 to attempt reinstatement of his visitation rights, which were yanked after a California judge heard the phone tirade. (Another hearing has also been set to investigate the source of the tape leak.) In the meantime, Baldwin still faces an uphill PR battle: At an April 27 Tribeca Film Festival screening of his movie Suburban Girl, in which Baldwin plays a publishing magnate who has a tense relationship with his daughter, the audience giggled whenever the subject of his child came up.
WHAT HAPPENED On April 22, news broke that Lindsay Lohan had departed The Best Time of Our Lives, the Dylan Thomas biopic in which she was slated to play the famed Welsh poet’s wife, Caitlin. (Sienna Miller will take over the part.)
THE FALLOUT Lohan’s role in the highbrow project was a strong bid for renewed onscreen credibility after a disappointing run at the box office. But sources close to the project say Lohan didn’t want to accept certain insurance and production restrictions. According to one insider, ”The money involved was not worth all the compromises.” The source adds that financiers asked Lohan — who was famously chided by Morgan Creek CEO James G. Robinson after causing production delays on Georgia Rule last summer — to guarantee she’d arrive on time each day, and wanted her to share lodging with costar Keira Knightley during the shoot. Lohan’s rep responds: ”Lindsay loves Keira and was saddened they couldn’t agree on a deal.”
WHAT’S NEXT While her upcoming roles don’t involve a corset or an accent, Lohan could still bounce back with May 11’s Rule — in which she plays a troubled teen opposite Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman — or July 27’s dual-personality thriller I Know Who Killed Me.
WHAT HAPPENED The controversial daytime cohost, whose contract with The View expires in June, told a disappointed audience on April 25 that she wouldn’t be returning to the show. Five days later, the mother of four posted a video on her personal website explaining that ABC asked her to return with a three-year contract worth $6 million. ”And I said I wanted one year for $10 [million],” she revealed. ”I know [it] seems unbearably greedy, but considering what they made this year…That’s what happened, and then they said no.” (ABC declined to comment.)
THE FALLOUT Not only has Donald Trump lost a gossip-page sparring partner, The View is left without the publicity magnet credited for a 15 percent jump in young female viewers. And it’s now down by two regular cohosts, having never replaced Star Jones. A show spokesman says they’ll look for at least one permanent candidate, but following O’Donnell’s incendiary act won’t be easy, as not many hosts can engage in lively discussion about American Idol in one breath and talk about 9/11 conspiracies in another.
WHAT’S NEXT O’Donnell promises she’ll guest-host The View and do specials next season. And widespread speculation continues that she’ll land her own syndicated talk show with Telepictures, which distributed her first daytime gabfest and is now The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s home studio. (The company declined comment.) Or she could eschew TV altogether and follow her love of Broadway: A rep for Les Misérables confirms she’s mulling an offer to star in the show, perhaps as early as this fall. — Additional reporting by Missy Schwartz