So Alec Baldwin walked out of the Emmy’s last night after the FOX Network nixed a joke about the phone hacking scandal in which their parent company is currently embroiled. Now far be it from me to come to the defense of Jack Daughnagy but I think the man has a point.
Baldwin’s rationalization was that the entirety of the sketch had would be compromised were it to lose that single joke. Maybe so or maybe not. Have you ever watched the deleted scenes from a movie and wondered how the film would have played (better or worse) had those scenes remained? And, as an aside, have you ever wondered about the quality of a screenplay that has entire blocks that can be omitted and still be a coherent story? But I’ve gone adrift.
My point, and I do have one, is this: sometimes the whole is compromised by the elimination of a part. I will use my life as an example but only because I think everybody cares what happens to me.
Three years ago I had a son who was born seven weeks early. I guess a more concise way of saying that is I have a three year old son who was born seven weeks early (it would be less hilarious if the reader thought I “had” a son instead of “have” a son). Either way, my kid comes out of the oven before he is fully cooked. It is a scary time; ambulance rides, confusing jargons and no doctors who want to kiss me (which always happens in TV hospitals). He’s born and put on a machine that breathes for him. A machine that eats for him. A machine that makes his heart beat. A machine that poops for him (and even that poop was gross).
When I get to go home (wifey and the kid are stuck in the hospital), the first thing I do is get a vasectomy. Then I send out an email to everyone announcing the blessed event. Basically it is nuts and bolts (weight, length) but I throw in a flourish or two. One of which being “he is small and tough like his mother and he came prematurely like his father”.
My wife calls and asks where the hell I am (I tend to lose all track of time on the internet) and I read her my email. No way. She nixes the “came prematurely” bit. She says there is no way that is going in an email about a kid who still only merits a shrug from doctors when we ask what will happen next. I argue that that’s the best part. I argue that without that line the email is pretty much the same as all the other birth announcements piling up in my trash folder. She makes a buzzer sound like a game show and orders it out.
And, like my second favorite Baldwin (my first is the Harlem Renaissance author James), I remove the offending line. I break the continuity of the entire bit and make it very bland. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have walked off the project. I would have asked to remove my name from the whole thing. But instead I did the opposite. I signed it and hit send.
I have 34 people in my contacts, the Emmys was probably viewed by twice that. Here three and a half years later I am still (obviously) concerned about the judgement past by my distribution list so I can only imagine what Mr. Baldwin was thinking when word came down that his bit was being edited. He likely was concerned he would be burning all the goodwill engendered recently from ’30 Rock’, hosting the Oscars and his supporting turn in “The Departed” and we would be looking at him and asking why the guy from “Mercury Rising” ruined the Emmys?