- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2015

There were rumors that veteran actor Alex Baldwin had enough political ambition to run for the mayor of New York City. This is close enough: HBO has cast Mr. Baldwin to actually play the Big Apple mayor. He’ll take on the role of “Joe Byrne, a billionaire real estate developer philanthropist, and celebrated socialite/tabloid fixture, who is unexpectedly rocketed into NYC politics when tragedy strikes the incumbent mayor and he is drafted to replace him,” notes Mike Fleming, a reporter for Deadline/Hollywood.

“It will be an hour drama that explores celebrity and the political landscape in New York City, dark but not as pitch black as ‘House of Cards.’ The way it was put to me is the aspiration is to be most consistently hit the tone of the lightest and most entertaining episodes of ‘The Sopranos’,” Mr. Fleming says.

The project has no title yet - but there are dramatic underpinnings. Mr. Baldwin told The New York Times four years ago he planned to run for mayor once his NBC series ‘30 Rock’ had come to a close. The show signed off two years ago. Mr. Baldwin appears poised and ready to become the fictional Mayor Byrne.

“He’s Trump without the baggage, Bloomberg but a Democrat, George Soros if he was in real estate, a left-leaning Democrat who understands the reality of how the city has to be run,” he told Mr. Fleming in an interview. Mr. Baldwin predicts the show could have some “Shakespearean character arcs.”

No public comments from Donald Trump, Mike Bloomberg or Mr. Soros. Yet. Production begins in Manhattan in September. Things change, though. About a year ago, Mr. Baldwin - who has been an MSNBC talk show host, played Broadway and encountered many a streetwise photographer - wrote an op-ed for Vulture, suggesting he would retire from public life. That has not quite happened; the author also revealed a few political proclivities at the time.

“I had dreams of running for office at some point in the next five years. In the pyramid of decision-making in New York City politics, rich people come first, unions second, and rank-and-file New Yorkers come dead last. I wanted to change that. I wanted to find a way to lower the cost of the city government and thus reduce New York’s shameful tax burden. I would have decentralized the schools,” Mr. Baldwin wrote.

“My father was a public-school teacher. He always told me that although you could encourage a child to work hard, you could only go so far; that half the goal had to be achieved at home. As progressive as I’ve been in my politics, there are other things I don’t think of as liberal or progressive, just common sense. Of course, another thing I would have done - and this will not surprise anyone - is change the paparazzi law,” the actor added.

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