Oh, the Elle with the paparazzi!
By LIZ BRAUN
"Do you sleep naked?" booms Alec Baldwin.
Continuing his particularly superb imitation of a TV interviewer, the actor continues, "The public has a right to know!"
The plague of the paparazzi is a hot topic this week as the city fills with celebrities for the Toronto film fest.
"There is a line that people cross," says Baldwin, taking care to first point out that he's not averse to doing interviews and he's not offended that people follow him in airports.
"But I'm not a public official," Baldwin goes on, warming to the subject. "I'm not a politician. I don't spend your tax dollars. I'm an actor.
"You don't have the gawddam right to know. You can ask," he says, cheerfully, "but you don't have the right to know anything about my private life."
Baldwin, along with co-stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Elle Macpherson, met the press yesterday to talk about a new film called The Edge, a thinking man's action/adventure by David Mamet. Hopkins plays a billionaire married to trophy wife Macpherson; Baldwin is the guy who'd like to come between them.
Though Baldwin's wife, Kim Basinger, earlier declined to comment on the activities of photographers -- questions obviously spawned by last week's tragedy in Paris -- he has plenty to say on the subject. Actually, when he went after a photographer trying to take pictures of his newborn child a few years ago, Baldwin made his stance on all of this quite clear.
Speaking specifically of Diana, the Princess of Wales, Baldwin says that out of respect for the grieving, any legal move toward limiting access in press/celebrity situations will be put off.
"There will be," he says, "an assignation of blame, but the time for that is not now. I believe a conversation will take place down the road."
He goes on, "There is a line that should be drawn, and I would like to see it legislatively drawn and in a bright, vivid color."
On his side, Anthony Hopkins spoke of the symbiotic relationship between the media and the celebrity. He says, "But what am I doing here today? Flirting with the media. I can't expect to get your cooperation on one hand and then turn around and condemn you."
Then, returning the conversation to Diana, he says, "But yeah -- I think they got too close to her."
Elle Macpherson, who plays Baldwin's lover and Hopkins' wife in The Edge, has been madly paparazzi-ed in both her incarnations: Model and actress. Currently about four months pregnant, she says that her pregnancy was announced far earlier than she had wanted, but the speculation was intense simply because -- as life imitates art -- she was making a film in which she plays a pregnant woman.
Macpherson says that in the 17 years that her profession has kept her in front of the cameras, things have changed a lot, and for the worse.
"There is a definite news type -- I would not consider them journalists -- who invade people's private lives." What stuns Macpherson is that it took the death of the Princess of Wales, "before anyone looked at the situation or saw that there was a problem."
As for her own problems with stalkers and snappers, Macpherson sums it all up nicely.
"If you're a regular person and someone is waiting outside your house every day or following you or driving around after you, you can call the police and get a restraining order.
"Why is it that as a public person, that right is taken away from you? People feel you're public property."
She adds, wistfully, "I'm much more careful than I used to be."