My Favorite Alec Baldwin Story

My Favorite Great Balls of Fire Storie

Alec Baldwin has appeared at the past two SCAD Film Festivals. He showed up at the last one looking a little rough. He left looking rougher, when the crowd that watched his mock docu on film financing largely missed the joke. And he went home to a world of trouble and the cancellation of his new tv show.

Every time I see him, I always call him "Reverend Swaggart" or "Jimmy Lee," which is the part he played in the 1989 movie based on my book, "Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis." We were both a lot younger then and not so pissed off at the world.

Alec Baldwin had recently wrapped "Beetlejuice" when he turned up in Memphis to play Jimmy Swaggart in GBOF. He wasn't a movie star yet and most people still referred to him by the television roles that had made him recognizable. I remember the first time I met Alec in the lobby of our hotel: he was wearing a trench coat over bowling shoes which he had stolen out of an alley because they were nicer than the shoes he was wearing. And I remember that he was polite to the point of being off-putting. If you sneezed, he handed you a handkerchief. If you coughed, he palmed a lozenge. If you whipped out a cig, he whipped out a lighter. And his lips were always pursed like he was going to kiss you.

But the thing I remember most about our first encounter– other than the bowling shoes– is what Alec said to me as he signed the copy of my book that I had the entire cast sign (to sell at a charity auction): "I hope we did justice to your book."

It was a very nice thing for him to say, especially after Dennis Quaid had told me that he didn't even read it. "I didn't want the book to color my performance," is what Dennis said to me, when we were introduced. Too bad, DQ. Reading the book might've saved you from your "colorful" performance. 

But I digress.

"Great Balls of Fire" tanked. Although it did wonders for its stars: Winona (who brought her boyfriend Johnny Depp to the premiere) went on to bigger and better things like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Dracula" and "Shoplifting"; Dennis Quaid went on to bigger things like "The Betty Ford Clinic"; and Alec went on to bigger things like "Married to the Mob", which was much, much better than being married to Kim Basinger.

But I digress.

…Laughing through the tears.

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