NEW YORK >> When his new talk show premieres Sunday night, don’t expect Alec Baldwin to get overly political. The 60-year old actor plans to leave that on the set of “Saturday Night Live” with his occasional impersonations of President Donald Trump.
“The Trump thing is just silly. Nothing we do on ‘SNL’ about Trump is going to change anybody’s mind about anything,” Baldwin said. “There are people in Washington going, ‘That Alec Baldwin, I hate him’… and there are others that say, ‘Thank you, for helping us process this.’”
That’s why he doesn’t see an upside to being overly political on the new “The Alec Baldwin Show” on ABC at 10 p.m. The show features candid one-on-one conversations with celebrities and cultural icons.
“If you have a very muscular political opinion, it has its consequences. I’m not afraid of that, and thankfully I have other venues to exercise that. But this is not about that at all,” Baldwin said.
His guests are another story. The talk show debuts with the politically outspoken Robert De Niro this Sunday. The hour show will feature two interviews, with Taraji P. Henson as the other guest.
Baldwin plans to pick up where “Here’s the Thing” — his podcast for WNYC — left off, employing his unfiltered, provocative interview style. Baldwin said the long-form interview format allows him to take a “deep dive” into the issues with each subject. Plus, staying in one place works great for his family life.
“It became harder and harder as I got older and traveling, I’ve got little kids and I don’t want to travel,” Baldwin said.
He also wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the talk-show format after being on the other side of couch for so long. While promoting different projects along the way, Baldwin recalled the limitations of being interviewed at junkets and talk-show spots. It’s something he calls short and “very choreographed.”
“There wasn’t a spontaneous breath to draw. They’ve worked out all the questions in advance. What you say is kind of a little script that they’ve drafted,” Baldwin said.
But he also found it hard to trust the interviewer in such a short time, so he understands the reasons many public figures need to “play it safe.”
“Now you can say something on a talk show and your career could be over. Or you can have real damage done. There’s a caution people have to exercise now. You’d be naive not to,” Baldwin said. With the longer format, he feels the subjects are more apt to engage in conversation.
Baldwin found himself on the wrong side of the story after a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, saying that, “Ever since I played Trump, black people love me.” He faced a social media backlash.
Executive Producer Jason Schrift realizes that Baldwin is a polarizing entertainer, but also pointed out that some viewers who don’t agree with Baldwin will also tune in, much like Howard Stern found his rating were higher thanks to people who didn’t like him.
But Schrift also feels that some of Baldwin’s perspectives can appeal to his detractors too.
“Even the right-wing people will be surprised by some of his conservative opinions about some things,” Schrift said.
Among the guests sitting down with Baldwin this season are Kim Kardashian, RuPaul, Kerry Washington, Jeff Bridges, Sarah Jessica Parker, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Mike Myers, Regina King, Gloria Allred, Ricky Gervais and Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg.