The dust may have settled on the whole Fallon-replacing-Leno thing, but the rest of NBC's late night lineup is still very much in flux. And we're not even talking about Seth Meyers, who looks like the clear frontrunner to replace Jimmy Fallon on Late Night in the network's new Lorne Michaels-apalooza. No, the wee hours of the morning may be welcoming none other than Alec Baldwin, who is, according to the New York Times' Bill Carter, in initial talks to take over Carson Daly's time slot. Baldwin, the star of NBC's just ended 30 Rock, has a two-year deal with the network, Deadline reports, but this leads to several questions: a) Why on Earth would the 55-year-old Baldwin ever want this job? b) Why would NBC want him in it? And c) Carson Daly still has that late-night show?
To the most important of those — Baldwin's desire for a gig that airs when most human beings are asleep — come three answers: a) money for b) a job he basically does anyway with his WNYC podcast that c) isn't very time consuming, allowing him to pursue other projects, according to Deadline.
Even so, it feels like a move toward obscurity—toward retirement, even. Which leads to a bunch more questions, all with very sensible (if provocative and potentially dangerous) answers. Because, come on: When was the last time you heard someone talk about what happened on Last Call? Does it perhaps mean that Baldwin is settling into an easier lifestyle? Maybe ruling out any sort of political run? Or does it mean he wants to do more of everything? You know, like hold court with fellow celebs on his talk show, while pursuing movies and theater and whatever else he damn well pleases. Baldwin clearly has a good time doing the podcast, as evidenced in a Hollywood Reporter interview out today, but when asked about a talk show explains he would only want to do it on his own terms:
It depends on the format and who it was for and what the schedule was like. Those guys that do talk shows have that terrible condition where they have to pretend everybody’s special. I don’t know if I could do that.
Because Baldwin does, for the most part, do and say what he damn well pleases, which means he could be a big headache for the network. At one point, not too long ago, he even threatened to leave the network because the Today show made him angry. Obviously, the network is still interested in working with him, what with that deal, but NBC would be undertaking a risk that comes with such a loose cannon. So NBC kicks out Carson Daly, who may be more of a punchline but does also anchor NBC's big hit The Voice, for someone who could have a temper tantrum at a moment's notice.
On the other hand, Baldwin grabs attention, even when he's being a pill, or even when he's cashing out on a CapitalOne commercial during March Madness. Daly, not so much. Baldwin, though fresh blood on late night, would also add an elder statesman to a lineup of young guys from Saturday Night Live going up against, well, Dave Letterman—aka Lindsay Lohan's "father figure." So everyone could be a winner. Except for poor Carson.