My Photo
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire, United States

Tuesday, April 24, 2007




(CHICAGO)(April 24, 2007) Last week when the Alec Baldwin Kim Basinger custody war exploded, again, I compared Basinger to Norma Desmond, the fictional film queen who refuses to acknowledge her steady decline in Hollywood. After monitoring today’s TV coverage of the Baldwin/Basinger smackdown I am convinced I found a correct frame of reference. Only the firestorm keeps growing and growing. The Baldwin/Basinger row has touched a national nerve.
From Nancy Grace to Glenn Beck to Larry King to Hannity & Colmes to Greta Van Susteren, everyone has been talking about Baldwin’s horrific phone call to his daughter Ireland, and Basinger’s attempt to pour fuel on the fire by issuing a malicious news release denying any responsibility for disclosure of the tape. Well.
What made Baldwin’s phone call and Basinger’s response a national phenomenon? Perhaps because both Baldwin and Basinger are egregiously wrong, and you can easily condemn both of them. Some of the most intelligent observations came on Fox’s Van Susteren show, when former Westchester County (New York) D.A. Jeannine Pirro observed that Baldwin had responded to extreme provocation. Pirro stated there had been over a dozen contempt citations against Basinger for harassment and interference with Baldwin’s visitation rights.
Glenn Beck noted on CNN Headline news that every time he has a segment on divorce and custody wars, his radio program is “flooded for a week” with calls.
In the midst of a serious “custody wars” on Iraq between the Bush Administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Baldwin/Basinger custody war has become an event where everyone can boo everyone else.
Where is Anna Nicole Smith when we need her? Should Judge Larry Seidlen hear the Baldwin/Basinger dispute? We need some tears and laughter; he is a proven commodity.
Family court cases are supposed to be secret, to “protect children.” It as been my experience that secrecy endangers children, not protect them. People literally get away with murder or near-murder in family courts across America precisely because so many of the proceedings are closed to the public.
In all of the hullabaloo over Baldwin and Basinger, no one has focused on where the case will be heard, or who the judge will be. I would like to know. Who will succeed Judge Larry in the nation’s collective consciousness? (The case will, of course, be conducted in secret; maybe.)
I can’t say that my legal research was exhaustive but I could not find any published appellate decisions on the Baldwin/Basinger smackdown. Thus, the battle seems to have been literally trial-by-combat in the trial court.
Basinger issued a statement today in which—-in Norma Desmond-style--she placed all of the blame on her former husband and attacked him all over again. Not exactly striking a conciliatory pose. It is simply not credible for Basinger to suggest that her camp has no responsibility for release of the tape. Basinger is an angry woman who has stoked the fires of anger in her former husband. That seems clear.
But why the national obsession? Unfortunately, we have become a nation enthralled by divorce, and in the thrall of divorce. Almost every family has been touched by divorce at some point, some bitterly, some endlessly, all financially. The “good divorce” is, unfortunately, a rare commodity.
And thus there is a certain schadenfreude in seeing prominent Hollywood celebrities dukign it out, not just during the divorce itself but in what appears to be an endless, decade-long custody war from which there is no withdrawal and no surrender. Talk about “dead enders.”
Hearing Baldwin’s tape over and over again I noticed that he said there had been a history of calls in which the phone was “turned off.” The latest outburst was not the first phone call that had been blocked. Baldwin only reacted in an inexcusable manner after repeated and extreme provocation.
A word of condemnation to the media, all of them: cover if you must (you must) but cover accurately. To listen to the stories all across television you would think Baldwin’s call took place “last week.” Indeed, the call took place almost a month ago, and the tape was what leaked out last week.
The “news” may be new but the phone episode was not. The media have not made that point clear. They have played the story and played the tape over and over again as though the call was made and recorded last week. Inexcusable.
Finally, of course, “love” is at the center of this endless tragedy. It always is. No one could commit such atrocious acts without the justification of “love.” Basinger may have convinced herself that her “love” for her daughter licenses her to destroy the father’s rights; Baldwin’s “love” for his daughter literally drove him to distraction.
As the 1965 Supremes song exhorted us, “Stop! In the Name of Love!”
But they won’t.
Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers regional, national and world news with forty years of personal experience. Columns also posted at; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639 Web site:


Post a Comment

<< Home