The first excerpt from Alec Baldwin’s memoir, “Nevertheless,” was posted on Vanityfair.com Tuesday. The big news out of this: There really isn’t any.
Perhaps aware that a tell-all in Vanity Fair would eliminate the impulse to lay out $26 next week when the book is published, Baldwin instead baited his hook with chatty, amusing anecdotes, mostly about “Saturday Night Live.”
He writes about his first meeting with Tina Fey, then head writer on “SNL:” She was “beautiful and brunette, smart and funny, by turns smug and diffident and completely uninterested in me or anything I had to say — I had the same reaction that I’m sure many men and women have: I fell in love.”
He was later warned — no doubt dryly: “ ‘Just remember one thing,’” Lorne [Michaels] said. “ ‘She’s German.’ ” (Actually, her mother’s of Greek ancestry; her father is German and Scots-Irish).
Baldwin — who has hosted “SNL” a record 17 times — wrote that “The first time I hosted ‘SNL,’ in 1990, surrounded by some of the most talented young comedians in the business, I was scared to death. Luckily, it occurred to me that, because I did not have an iconic career in films, because I wasn’t [Arnold] Schwarzenegger or [Sylvester] Stallone or someone who invited a parody of their work, I was better off trying to just be a member of the company. I would play the soldier, the teacher, the priest, or the NPR guest in the sketch and do my best to just fit in. Once I did that, things got a bit easier. The cast wants the host to succeed, to make the show a good one, so they are very generous and helpful . . . None was funnier than [Phil] Hartman, who was perhaps the only person to crack me up during the live show. Phil could channel any kind of character, from smart to dumb to truly insane. He was a wonderful actor. When I heard about his death, in 1998, I was stunned and sickened.”
Then there was the time Whitney Houston was musical guest on the Feb. 23, 1991, edition: “After her dress rehearsal, I was introduced to her backstage. ‘You truly are the most talented singer out there today,’ I said, a bit star-struck. She paused and said, ‘I know, baby,’ then walked on.”
He also repeats the story he’s told in recent weeks on talk shows: He never wanted to portray Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” and had no idea how to impersonate him even moments before the first dress rehearsal last year.
“I mean, literally, the moment I walked out, I just said to myself, ‘eyebrow up,’ and I tried to stick my face and my mouth out. For the actual show, when I was in the makeup room, I put my wig on, and it was like a scene from a mental hospital. I’m getting the wig on me, and I’m sitting there the whole time going ‘Gyna, Gyna, Gyna.’ I didn’t think about it — I just did it. Now I should probably tell people, ‘I worked on it for months.’ ”
Baldwin also writes that “As Election Day 2016 approached, a couple of friends, both New York media execs, asked me if I wanted to join them at celebratory events they were producing to mark . . . [Hillary Clinton’s] pending victory. The Donald Trump we had been presenting on ‘Saturday Night Live’ seemed to delight nearly everyone in the People’s Republic of Manhattan, so I had many such invitations. The ‘SNL’ Trump sketches prompted people to approach me, thank me, and beseech me to ‘keep going’ more than any other portrayal or piece I have performed.”
“Nevertheless” will be published by Harper on April 4.