Friday, October 22, 2021

Karma Is A Cast-Iron Bitch

 h/t Mike

Allow me to be the first to pile on. :

Some days, we have to work for a post. Like think, and stuff.

Other days, the muse gift-wraps them, and drops them in our lap.

Today is definitely the second kind of day.

Alec Baldwin kills DP, shoots director on set

To whom this set of observations applies, spare me your butthurt.

1) Of course they use guns (albeit heavily modified) on movie sets. Since ever. File under "Duh!"

2) Some propmaster dun fucked up, massively, and should shortly be charged for manslaughter and aggravated battery via gross negligence. There should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be live rounds on the main set, let alone anywhere near prop weapons.

3) It's not the actor's job to ensure safety of prop weapons used on set, it's the propmaster and the weapon's handler's job. Weapons are supposed to be double-checked on loading to prevent this sort of cock-up.

4) It's likely that when Baldwin was shooting, he was, almost certainly exactly per rehearsals and blocking, aiming at the camera. Which is where the director of photography and director sit, 90% of the time. And in real life, there's no way to tell you've fired a real bullet rather than a blank after the first shot, until bodies hit the ground. Blood doesn't explode from people's chests, they just crumple. Be glad it was a western, and not a gangster film. He could have taken out a swath of people, instead of just the two he hit.

{We add in amendment, that if, instead, Baldwin was waving the gun around off-camera, and pulling the trigger, or some other form of jackassery, he should be charged and convicted like any other perp. We find that unlikely in the circumstances, but not entirely impossible. See #6, below. We look forward to a definitive explanation as this story develops.}

5) Andrea Widburg's witless commentary about gun safety at American Thinker regarding this incident only proves she's a cinematic idiot, who should STFU when she's in over her head. But she won't. Firearms Safety is literally the first and second topics in the official industry-wide safety bible. It's lifted directly from NRA guidelines, and then amplified. So by definition, when something like this happens, rules written in blood were obviously and flagrantly violated. I say it again: STFU Andrea; you're abusing the internet privilege to be an uninformed jackass with a keyboard.

6) I said for 20+ years in motion picture production, going back to the beginning of this blog, that even allowing for "only using blanks", it borders on professional incompetence for any propmaster to ever hand an actor any weapon not made of rubber. Because they're idiots. Like 99.9999% of them, by actual observation. (FFS, John Wayne even shot Ward Bond in the face on a bird hunting foray IRL. That should tell you something.) Triply so around weaponry of all types, or anything even sharp.

7) The takeaway isn't that @$$hole Baldwin will not be charged; he bears exactly no culpability nor intent for the crime AFAWK. That's as it should be. Don't be stupid about this. And if time changes that, we look forward to Baldwin getting what he deserves.

8) What you should be focusing on, is that despite that reality, you can now claim, FOREVER, that exactly like Ted Kennedy's car, Alec Baldwin has killed more people with guns than your/my/anyone's collection of misnamed "assault" weapons have, ever.

9) He'll NEVER be able to escape that legacy, not even when he dies, and he's going to hear it 1000 times a day until that happy occasion. It's going to be on bumper stickers, lapel buttons, memes, and a gajillion other things, for all time. He's just taken himself out of the anti-gun speaker's pool forever!

10) If that reality, and not the imaginary injustice of not charging him with the killing that likely wasn't his fault, doesn't warm your heart, you're simply a lunatic.

Learn to take "YES!" for an answer from the Fates.

And just to doubly piss you off a little more, this is one of the reasons that motion picture productions that have fled SoCal to non-union states always have these sorts of fuck-ups. When productions go off the reservation and hire unprofessional non-union fuck-ups for a cut rate, they get what they pay for. In this case, a dead DP, a wounded director, and an actor who will, to a metaphysical certainty, be justifiably scarred for life. Not to mention metric fucktons of bad publicity for the event.

Baldwin's a victim of both a cheap-ass production (he's one of the producers, btw: Own Goal Achievement - Unlocked), and a total fuck-up homicidal weapons master.

And karma is a cast-iron bitch.


(And rest assured, Gentle Readers, while we are giving Baldwin the benefit of the doubt at this point, if it turns out, against likelihood, that @$$hole Baldwin was, in fact, totally and jackassically responsible, we will revise and amend our judgement of him the moment his homicidal culpability becomes apparent, and add to the clamor for his prosecution and conviction. We would hope, at that point, for the entire judicial machinery of the state of New Mexico to fall on him, from a great height. We're certain, when the whole truth comes out, he'll get what's coming to him. He's only done, to best recollection, three things right in Hollywood: played a great ghost in Beetlejuice; absolutely nailed Jack Ryan in Hunt For Red October; and warmed our heart when he fell into the bear pit in the climactic scene of The Edge. We still haven't forgiven him for taking Kim Basinger off the market at the time.)

Double bonus: I think we've seen the last SNL Baldwin-Trump skit forever. With any luck, Baldwin just retired permanently from everything.

UPDATE: You might want to read this article in the Daily Beast, that just confirmed everything I already told you about amateur propmasters and cheapskate production, which was why those crew members on the camera crew walked off the set, and saved their own lives.

Imagine that: We got it right, 5 hours before they did, and we didn't have to talk to anyone there. Almost like we might know WTF we're talking about where such on-set shenanigans are concerned.


MMR said...

Yes. It will be interesting to see where the negligence lies in this situation. May be enough to go around...

James M Dakin said...

I support Unions. It is proven so many times that we need them, if not before than certainly after NAFTA/Globalization, I cannot believe most people would argue about that. Granted, Unions don't protect against the government screwing you, but that doesn't negate the damage from corporate interests Unions protect workers from. But I do want to say, born and raised in California, your state sucks rabid monkey balls. I can see why companies want to flee the Cali government. It isn't just the Unions fault ( a separate issue is how poorly the remaining Unions act. If they hadn't been allowed to wither and die, they wouldn't be acting so poorly, nearly criminally, those left standing to be used as a poster boy by the money class ). This doesn't even take into account the insane cost of living. My point is, there is more than one or two reasons film makers wish to avoid Cali filming. Not that I'm disagreeing with you. Just elaborating ( and dogpiling on evil Cali as a bonus ). Cheers.

snuffy said...

While I generally agree, I wouldn't pull the trigger on any firearm, prop, bb gun, or cap gun, I hadn't loaded myself, or actually watched from arms length being loaded. I'm not saying this just because Alec Baldwin is a grade A douche, but the person on the trigger has to bear some responsibility.

Aesop said...

Businesses have left CA for a host of reasons, all valid.

Movie productions leave town because they're cheap bastards. Period.

When they relocate Paramount, Disney, Universal, Sony, Fox, etc., studios to Texas, en masse, your point will be the primary factor. But they'd have to leave Malibu and Beverly Hills, so that ain't happening, because it isn't a factor.

Califrutopia's official monkey ball-suckingness, to them, is just a cost of doing business.
But they'll fuck over their own employees for the same reason they rewrite Pulitzer-prize winning novels: because they can. They literally, in the last week, finally singed a contract to the below-the-line production workers, weeks late, and barely averted the first industry strike of the average film workers in this town since the 1940s.

I personally spent over two decades and literally hundreds of motion picture and television productions, watching producers trip over and squander dollar bills to save a nickel.

One was proud of the fact that he'd fucked over the production assistants (less minimum-wage slave-flunkies) - the only non-union people he legally could fuck over - to save less money than the show spent on bagels and cream cheese for the Writer's Room each day. So for his brilliant effort, some kid from Kansas lives in his car, or lives in a garage with 8 other film industry wannabees, and the production saved $20/day. Hollywood management genius at work.

The old joke, where two producers see a beautiful girl, and one says to the other "Boy I'd like to fuck her!" and his companion says "Out of what?" isn't a joke, it's a documentary on how they operate, 24/7/365,ever.

And yet again, another runaway production is pennywise, and pound-foolish, and they killed people.

As if I never saw that firsthand.

If Baldwin, as co-producer, helped make that decision, and the flunkie hired to run props/guns/both was a non-union schlub wannabe from Bumfuck NM, then the karma is even richer and more well-deserved.

Aesop said...


We'll see if that tale pans out.

Even if it did, the two should have remained uninjured, had things been going along per the referenced Safety Bulletins.
IOW, blanks don't kill people unless you're way too close to them when you fire, and they don't do anything through the obligatory erected safety shields.

I have no doubt, one way or another, Baldwin will get the share of the blame due him.
The fact that he undeniably pointed the weapon and pulled the trigger isn't the only factor in assessing culpability.

But the meme sticks, no matter what, and that's more than enough for me at this point.
If it turns out this was mostly Baldwin's jackassery and direct culpable negligence, so much the better.

MNW said...

This is still a new story, but I will add....

This could be another squib incident. They filmed loading and unloading dummies, a loose projectile came out if the case and stayed in the chamber, a blank is loaded in behind it, and oops, dead DP.

It is a possibility.

Aesop said...

Let's put it like this, MNW:

IF you follow the Safety Bulletins linked in the OP scrupulously, it is virtually impossible to injure someone on set with firearms.

Someone definitively fucked up: the proof is someone is dead.

Who and how much will become apparent in due course.

But AB has absolutely killed more people with guns than my guns have, and more than 99.9999999999% of the NRA, not counting combat veterans.

Game. Set. Match.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I find abhorrent in producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, name a Hollyweird top line film occupation, is how they decry and preach about firearm ownership by common people, yet they make mega bucks and acting chops using firearms in a large percentage of movies. Either don't use them or STFU about firearm ownership by ordinary, everyday Americans.

Matt Damon is a prime example of these two faced idiots.


Ray - SoCal said...

Cdan is claiming massive drug use on the set:

And a union, IATSE, is claiming a non union local was doing the prop master job.

And per The Wrap some of the crew had walked off that morning before the shooting.

BigCountryExpat said...

Word filtering is that Baldwin threw a shit-fit, aimed and fired at them b/c he was pissed off... spin and damage control will be throwing aforementioned wannabe armorer under the bus...

Also, always a slim possibility that -someone- with a REAL hatred/Axe to Grind with Baldwin sabotaged the weapon and loaded a live round. If it's a Cowboy show/movie, odds are it was either a .45 Long Colt or thereabouts... BIG beebee. BAD juju to get hit by.

Inquiring minds want to know where the wound(s) were... If he shot at the camera like they are so wont to do, did the round go through the head of whoever was behind it? Wounded dood? Shrapnel from the camera getting blow'd dafuq up? OR entry-wound-exit-wound-rentry-wound? Twofer? I have -zero clue- as to what a "DP" or any other movie stuff at all. So far your calls and intel is far more knowledgeable on Hollyweird than mine

BUT I DO know weapons and ballistics. The wounds will tell the story far better than any coverup which seems to be proceeding apace...

Anonymous said...

Unions are good for one thing: making sure incompetents can't be fired (see NEA). They did a lot of good, a hundred years ago. So did rural electrification. That is in the past.
--Tennessee Budd

GMay said...

So, firearms safety is a big effin' deal on set. Got it. The rules are lifted from the NRA and "amplified". Good to know. The actor bears no responsibility to check the weapon upon receiving it...

Might want to pump the brakes before shitting on Widburg here, because your math here is a little fuzzy.

Ken said...

What if this is just a false flag to give TPTB 'ammo' for gun control, and the gunshot death and injury were faked? That's my wife's opinion, anyway. It is Hollyweird, after all.

If the death and injury were real, the politicians will still use this opportunity to renew their push for gun control, so I suppose it doesn't matter either way.

favill said...

Re: Kim Basinger--she's the embodiment of "the crazy chick", I'd say it's a draw for that point.

Kentucky Fisherman said...

There was documented labor problems on the set already, and as Ray noted, some workers walked off the set that very morning. I don't know the victim's role in any of this, but let's suppose Baldwin thought she supported the unrest, or maybe even threw gasoline on the fire.

While I understand that the prop master, on paper, is responsible, what if Baldwin simply brought live rounds on set in his pocket. Assjack that he is, it would be simple for him to accept the cleared gun, then throw a tantrum and stalk off. At that point he ejects the blanks, wipes the live rounds clean of fingerprints and loads them into the handgun. Or maybe it's just the first round that's live. Anyway, the gun goes bang, the target dies, and everyone looks to blame the prop master.

I'm not sure how all this works to Baldwin's long-term benefit, but I do believe he has a hair trigger and clearly thinks he is above the average man and above the law that applies to the rest of us. I don't buy the "accident" for one instant.

The Freeholder said...

I'm waiting on the negligence lawsuits to fall on one and all. I figure that will be epic, unless they all get settled for undisclosed terms, which would be my bet.

Anonymous said...

Kind of seeing asshole baldwin doing any anti-gun spot with something like, "Hey, I shot and killed a few people in my time in the movies and real life..."

Stealth Spaniel said...

Baldwin: another Hollywood/NYFC rich asshole who loves screwing production folks out of money and fame.
The Studio: another coven of rich assholes who want to screw each other and anyone else out of money and fame.
Union and Non-union workers: believers that actually think their hard work, time, ideas, and sacrifice will give them money and fame.
I love movies as much as the next girl, but Hollywood has been willingly sacrificing any interloper they can to the God of money, good reviews, and free sex since.........the Jews got off the train after Arizona had a rainy day. Hire top of the line production people, and if the script is above par-you will make money despite the cost of production. I feel badly for the DP and the director. One lost her life, the other will undergo a lot of soul searching.
Aesop-your analysis is spot on.

Bill Quick said...

Thanks for making the same points I was trying to make at Insty's. I've worked in the business, written and been produced in it, and actually know something about production in the real world.

First, most actors are dumb as goldfish. They would no more think to "check" a prop firearm than they would a prop toaster, and with better reason: Small appliance electrocutions have killed orders of magnitudes more people that firearms on movie sets. I can only find records of three at this point - Brandon Lee in that weird handgun loaded like a musket thing, some stupid dick who actually played Russian Roulette with .44 caliber blanks, and this one. Out of the hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of house of film and tv production. You have a far greater chance of being killed by lightning.

As for your commenter who breathlessly tells us there may have been drug use on the set, well, don't say? Really?

Almost every significant Hollywood film production has drug expenses hidden in the budget somewhere, disguised as flowers, or accessories, or hockey sticks. You don't think Baldwin is sticking all that Bolivian Goose Juice up his honker on his own dime, do you?

As for the inevitalbe "Well, I would check every gun six times over," people, first, you're probably not dumb as goldfish, second, you have no experience whatsoever with how production sets actually work, and third, as I mentioned, actors don't "check" props. There are people who do that for them. Usually underpaid people.

Justin_O_Guy said...

It's everybody's job to be safe. If a friend hands me a gun and says it is not loaded I'm gonna Look. I'm just not comfortable taking someone else's word for it. Unless I'm standing there and watch,,

Beans said...

Your point about Baldwin not being culpable is sadly bupkis in real life.

Hear me out.

I go to your house. You hand me an 'unloaded' gun and tell me to check the trigger pull. I do, it goes bang, next door neighbor drops dead.

I'm the one on hook for negligent homicide.

And you can damned bet that the prosecutor will sift through all my e-mails, social media, my computer and anything else to find a 'history of violence and malice.' And also will go over my criminal history and bring in anything that can add fuel to the fire.

Dancing-Monkey-Boy Baldwin? He'll have all of his quite-violent social media history not be included in any investigation. His known abusive history towards co-workers and women in particular will have no bearing in any fact-finding as to the accident. Prop-master Flix will die on his sword so as to absolve DMBB of any of his sins.

I've taken a concealed carry class here in Florida. The first thing, the last thing, and almost every thin in between says that the last holder of a gun is responsible for any discharge, be it intentional or negligible, and there are NO accidental discharges.

You can't tell me Mr. High and Mighty Dancing-Monkey-Boy Baldwin wasn't aware of the basics of gun safety, and has never had anyone read him or force him to read or take a basic firearms safety class or prop safety class.

Sadly, Dancing-Monkey-Boy's bank account will allow him to skate. His fellow thespians will cover for him. The industry will hold him as the primary victim and cry big gigantic alligator tears over his anguish. And nothing will change, for him.

Still, Baldwin is guilty. Guilty as sin.

Now we'll finally see if he actually is a 'normal' person or a sociopath.

Aesop said...


1) Neither my house (nor yours) is a movie set. This is the point where your entire hypothetical goes to shit. Hear me out.
2) At my house, we don't pretend to take over the White House, gun down the Tartaglia Family, or take on the James-Younger Gang, just for openers.

And in addition to what I wrote this morning, several more key phrases have been bandied about in the trades in this industry town this afternoon and evening:
"low-budget production"
"camera department walked off hours beforehand because of 'working conditions'..." which is why the DP was operating the camera (which is roughly akin to the Captain of the Love Boat or the battleship manning the ship's wheel).
"non-union prop master"

There is no "basic firearm safety class" nor "prop safety class" for actors.
What you imagine to the contrary doesn't count here.
No one would show up for such a class.
More importantly, no one in their right mind would teach it.
It would be like giving actors a class on "dynamite safety" or "nuclear weapons safety".
You might as well teach pigs to whistle.
Or try.

There are reasons for this:
a) Actors make dog shit look smart.
b) You don't entrust the safety of anyone to anyone dumber than dog shit.
c) IRL, they have the mental capacity of a 4 year old. Even the good ones.
d) The Safety Bulletins, on a well-run, regular-budget, union show are stapled to the call sheet. Exactly so this sort of dumbassery is impossible. Not unlikely. IMPOSSIBLE. This is why there have only been 3 such fatal incidents in four decades, despite literally millions of rounds of on-screen gunplay.
e) Actors don't read call sheets. Nor are expected to do so. They read the script, and learn their lines. Then they learn their blocking (on screen moves).
That's it, since ever.

Props are the responsibility of the prop master, both by custom and practice, and in a legally binding fashion (including in a court of law).

If Baldwin was horsing around between scenes, it's 50% his fault for being a jackass, and 50% the prop master's fault for letting him do it, rather than literally yanking the weapon out of his hand. Even on total out-your-ass non-union low-budget productions (I've done hundreds), you literally take the gun away from the actor(s) between takes. Period. Full stop. To prevent exactly what happened.
Any prop master, or weapons handler working under him, who failed to do this, is both professionally and legally negligent, because of precisely what happened.

Aesop said...

If Baldwin, being a gnat-brained actor, pulled the trigger with a blank close enough to kill someone, between takes, he's chargeable.
But if this was a live-round-in-a-prop-gun situation (I've heard at least one inside report that it was one live bullet, through the DP and into the director), the person who loaded it, deliberately or accidentally, is looking at the ass-end of 5-20 years in the big house.
50:1 if that happened, it wasn't the actor who fucked up.
At minimum, this is negligent manslaughter, and somebody's going to prison for it.
75% odds says it's the propmaster/weapons handler.
25% odds says it's Baldwin, and only if there's evidence he did something egregiously stupid. If this happened during a planned live take, he's 0% at fault, morally and legally.

The actor's job is to act. Period. Full stop.
Anything in their hands is a prop.
Prop safety belongs, since ever, to the prop department, not the acting talent.
Those are supposed to be the people trained and professional enough to focus on that.
Otherwise anyone could do this. (And when they try to do it without a farking clue, this is exactly what happens: amateurs thinking they can be professionals kill people.)
The entire point of using guns on set is to deliberately and consciously break the Four Rules, with a tedious and predictable regularity. Otherwise, we'd have the actors point their fingers, and tell the audience to just imagine weapons in their hands.
Feel free to list the productions that have done that, since Edison invented the damned business 100+ years ago. I'll wait.

The closest equivalent to what you're proposing is holding the boot camp recruit, with zero experience whatsoever, responsible for any mishap when a drill instructor hands him a live grenade, instead of a practice grenade. That would happen exactly,...wait lemme check...carry the one...NEVER.

And on the list of people actually and measurably dumber than boot camp privates, come actors. Every. Last. One.
I've seen both groups, firsthand, and that's only 20+ years on-set talking.

The closest Hollywood equivalent to the standard you're suggesting would be blaming Vic Morrow and the kids for standing under the helicopter that killed them on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

No matter how butthurt that leaves people, I've laid out the reality.
A movie set is Disneyland, by definition. If we wanted reality, we'd call them documentaries, not movies.
The only thing in question are the particulars, but pinning this on the actor - any actor - is beyond a stretch, in almost every case. Baldwin may yet live up to all our expectations, because he's a well-known boob.
But so are thousands of other people, working actors all, and they don't kill people on set with prop guns.
Who fucked up, and exactly how, is what's going to be the nail in someone's coffin.

Aesop said...


My comments on Widburg stand. She's a jackass talking out her Fourth Point Of Contact*, on matters far beyond her grasp.

Her expert witnesses in this case are Jack and Shit.
This is one of those cases where she should have pumped the brakes, and probably talked to any ten people with industry experience before hitting "publish".
Her entire article is a joke.

People rightfully laugh at and mock Hollywood, for getting things wrong per the people in real life who know whereof they speak (military, doctors, lawyers, etc.).
Hollywood should (and would, if anyone there read her tripe) laugh and mock Widburg for the same reason, because she hasn't the slightest clue about how movie production works.

The first rule of writing is "write what you know".
She demonstrates how to fail at that, spectacularly.
Her article was the equivalent of any 200 videos of people cutting down trees, which land on their own house or car.
It's fun to watch, but not if you wanted to learn anything about tree felling, except by way of how not to go about it.

*[refer to FM 3.21-200 (FM 57-220) Basic Parachuting, §3-5.]

Will said...


Back around '99, LA County? passed some anti-gun regulations aimed at "assault weapons" and other typical semi-autos, that got real expensive for Hollywood. Part of it was a tax on possession of magazines for them. IIRC, the tab was $500/year each. When Hollywood complained to them that it was going to drive screen related business out of town, they responded by making the problem worse.

This is why any movie or tv show that uses anything other than cowboy or older type weaponry will be filmed in another state, or in Canada, which was very happy to work with Hollywood. Notice how many shows have "made in Canada" somewhere in the credits?

The Gun rental businesses sold off the fun stuff, and either kept just the vintage/cowboy guns, or closed their doors.

I was visiting a class III shop in Utah? while driving across country then, and got to look at the list of toys being offered by the biggest LA gun renter. They told me that they had already bought the 2 Glock mod 18's that I had trained on, that had been used on the movie "Waterworld". Can't recall if they bought the two Beretta 93R's too ("Broken Arrow"). Not impressed with the dust cover folding handles on them.

LA really does attract dumb politicians, judging by that fiasco.

Aesop said...


Sorry, but you're totally wrong.
I only spent 20+ years working on film and television productions in Los Angeles County, many with full-auto weapons, and nothing you stated is, in fact, the case. Weapons laws are made at the state level in CA, not the county level, a fact that has been shoved up several counties' hindquarters time and again.
See the follow-up post.

Shows have "made in Canada" in them because Canada requires Canadian production employees for 95% of the production crew, so the province more than recoups the tax breaks paid to the production in the withholding they charge their own residents.
It has jack and shit to do with what firearms they can or cannot rent.

Maybe catch an episode of NCIS-L.A. sometime, filmed nearly entirely within L.A. County since ever, 2009-present. Just for a starting point.

Anonymous said...

Someone in the props department was stupid and careless.
I've paid enough union dues to know that unions
1) Are more than happy to accept dues from stupid, careless people. They will even fight for the jobs of people who get fired for being stupid and careless.
2) Don't turn stupid, careless people into smart, careful people.

Whatever happened on that set, the presence or absence of union cards was not a factor.

Aesop said...

-10 points to Anonymous, above, for failing to read the Daily Beast update, appended to the end of the OP, and which lays out exactly the opposite of everything he confidently asserts was not the case as being the entire source of the problem.

BTW, Anon, I spent several years on my own local's Executive Board, In Hollywood, in the motion picture industry, where we fought to get rid of the careless and stupid, and frequently succeeded, as there were no shortage of the other kind of people left afterwards, which happy result was we all made more money, and we all looked more professional overall. No one complained about that - not the local members, the International, the producers, or anyone else - except the former members we sh*tcanned.

How things work at Spacely Sprockets or Amalgamted Fucktards Inc. is never the way things work in motion pictures, in many, many ways.

Union or no, people can and do get tossed off a set at the drop of a hat, and incompetence or unsafe behavior will result in that, suspension, or even termination of union membership in a hot minute.

Thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.