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Embattled Baldwin seeks release from ‘30 Rock’

Actor Alec Baldwin, embarrassed by a ranting phone message to his daughter that surfaced on the Internet, has asked to be freed from his TV show to spend more time with family, a person close to the situation said Wednesday.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Divorced dad Alec Baldwin, caught yelling at his daughter on a voice-mail message, said Wednesday he asked NBC to let him out of his “30 Rock” contract so he can devote his time to the issue of “parental alienation.”

“If I never acted again, I couldn’t care less,” Baldwin said in a pre-taped appearance for ABC’s “The View,” scheduled to air Friday.

The actor, in a transcript provided to The Associated Press by “The View,” said that he also wanted to quit “30 Rock” so the sitcom and the hundreds who work on it wouldn’t “be hurt by the situation.”

NBC rejects his exitNBC, however, quickly shot down the idea. The actor has became a key asset for the freshman sitcom, stealing the show as an oily but charming network executive overseeing a “Saturday Night Live”-type program.

“Alec Baldwin remains an important part of ‘30 Rock.’ We look forward to having him continue his role in the show,” NBC said in a statement Wednesday.

A network spokeswoman said she didn’t know how many seasons his contract covered. A call to Baldwin’s publicist in New York was not immediately returned.

Baldwin intends to fulfill his obligation to the show, a source close to the actor said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make a statement.

‘30 Rock’: great reviews, mediocre ratings
“30 Rock,” created by and starring “Saturday Night Live” alumna Tina Fey, has been renewed for a second year. Production wrapped in March and the season finale airs Thursday for the show, which has gotten rave reviews but mediocre ratings.

Baldwin and ex-wife Kim Basinger have been embroiled since their 2002 divorce in a custody dispute over their daughter, Ireland, 11. It erupted recently over Baldwin’s telephone message to his daughter, berating her as a “rude, thoughtless little pig” for missing his call.

A tape of the message was obtained by celebrity Web site TMZ.com and broadcast worldwide. The actor blamed his former wife for leaking the tape, which she denied.

Baldwin was interviewed on “The View” by Barbara Walters and Rosie O’Donnell. (O’Donnell announced Wednesday she would be leaving the show after she and ABC failed to come to terms on a contract.)

Walters asked Baldwin about his harsh remarks to his daughter.

“You didn’t mean to say it to your child?” she said.

Rant aimed at Basinger, actor says
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with being frustrated or angry about something,” he replied. “It’s the way you do it, and as people often do in this world, I took it out on the wrong person because I’m unable, under the current dynamic, to address the other person.”

“I realize that was wrong,” Baldwin added.

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“You said it to your daughter, but you meant it for your ex-wife?” Walters asked.

“Well, I think that goes without saying, quite frankly,” Baldwin said.

Asked by Walters if he had spoken to Ireland since and how things stood, Baldwin declined to answer, citing “ongoing procedures and so forth.” However, his spokesman said he has since made amends with his daughter.

Focused on familyA Los Angeles family law judge who listened to the tape suspended Baldwin’s visitation rights last week and set a hearing for May 4, at which time Baldwin could face further restrictions on his contact with the child.

According to the partial transcript from “The View,” Baldwin said he intended to take “three years or five years, it doesn’t matter,” and focus on the problem of divorced parents and their children. He has a book coming out about divorce litigation, possibly this fall, he said.

“There were bills that were proposed in (by California lawmakers) that were killed which were about equality and co-parenting and divorce litigation and ... this is work that I’ve been creeping up on, but I’ve been busy,” he said.

Acting has lost its importance to him, he said.

“I’ve had enough of this quite frankly to last me a lifetime, especially in the modern tabloid world and ... there’s a bigger thing I want to do, there’s a more important thing I want to do,” Baldwin said.