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Hollywood A-lister Alec Baldwin has hosted an hour-long radio show and podcast for the past decade — until he paused new episodes following the tragedy on the “Rust” movie set in Santa Fe last October.
That show, “Here’s The Thing,” remains on hiatus but will return “soon,” according to its production company, Cavalry Media, which is also producing the new venture.
For now, Baldwin has returned with a scripted true crime podcast, “Art Fraud,” delving into a scandal at New York City’s historic Knoedler Gallery that cost tens of millions of dollars and caused the venue’s collapse.
“The kind of thing he’s doing with this fraud podcast is very, very much in a genre that is really popular,” said Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. “Matter of fact, the first podcasts to really break through were these true crime kinds of things.”
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He also told Fox News Digital that even with more Americans working from home and fewer commuting, podcast popularity as a whole continues to grow. But following the death of Halyna Hutchins on the “Rust” set on Oct. 21, new episodes of “Here’s The Thing” stopped appearing.
“Given the gravity of the ‘Rust’ situation, the first thing that Alec Baldwin does after that, you want to make sure it can’t be really in any way be tasteless, or that you could read something into it that could comment upon the ‘Rust’ [incident],” Thompson said. “I think a true crime show like this is probably a fairly safe bet.”
Because it focuses on the dramatic world of art fraud, far removed from the tragedy in Santa Fe.
“I don’t think you want to have a true crime thing about a shooting,” he added. “That would be a totally different situation.”
“Here’s The Thing” involved Baldwin inviting prominent artists and policy makers on for “intimate and honest conversations.”
“Art Fraud” is a scripted true crime series focused on the scandal and intrigue of fine art corruption in New York City, which Thompson said immediately drew him into the story.
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“It’s a smart move for him pragmatically and artistically,” said Christian Toto, a movie critic and founder of the conservative entertainment site HiT.
“He knows what he can and can’t get away with, and he knows where he can protect himself and protect his image. And also, he’s putting his talent forward again.”
True crime is immensely popular, and the scripted format allows Baldwin to get back out in front of the public without inviting scrutiny from his own guests.
“I think he would get tough questions, potentially, but I think that a Joe Rogan, if he were to engage in interviews, would get much harder questions,” Toto said.
Rogan has come under fire for his own hugely popular podcast of late, with prominent celebrities boycotting Spotify to protest the platform’s refusal to cancel the comedian and UFC commentator over past remarks and the views of some of his guests.
“I think the broader issue with Alec Baldwin … is that if you look at his career and look at what he’s said and look what he’s done, he should’ve been canceled a long time ago,” Toto said.
That past includes allegedly using homophobic slurs, scuffling with photographers and berating journalists. He allegedly punched a New York City driver in a fight over a parking spot, and recordings show in 2007 he called his then 11-year-old daughter a “little pig.”
True crime stories are what put podcasting on the map, according to Thompson, and they remain a huge portion of available content, for which the public has a seemingly endless appetite. There are even already existing programs dedicated to true crime in the art world, ironically, on a platform that exhibits no images.
“We welcome all newcomers to the fascinating history and ongoing intrigue of art crime,” the team behind the already established and similarly named “Art Crime Podcast,” said Tuesday. “Our hope is that listeners find our podcast by mistake instead of his and realize how much more entertaining we are than Alec Baldwin.”
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Baldwin has also branched out into other projects, including narrating an album highlighting “the sounds of New York City” to benefit the 92nd Street Y. He posted a snippet of the record on Instagram earlier this week.
On Thursday, after the widowed husband of the cinematographer killed in an on-set gun accident involving Baldwin filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the actor posted another video bearing the phrase, “Everything is going to be alright.”
The “Rust” shooting left Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza wounded after Baldwin aimed a .45-caliber Old West-style revolver at her from just four feet away and toyed with the hammer, according to court filings.
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On Tuesday, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and a number of co-defendants connected with the movie’s production, alleging they “had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations.”
After the gun went off, two crew members ran to assist the gravely injured Hutchins, according to the lawsuit. Baldwin allegedly offered no aid.
A spokesperson for Baldwin did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegation in the lawsuit or the change in podcasts.