It was gossip manna from heaven. A fiery Hollywood star confronted by a paparazzo, loses his rag and, better yet, hurls a "gay slur" towards the offending photographer.
But after a week that saw the turbulent career of Alec Baldwin take another turn for the worse, the star of The Hunt for Red October and, more recently, 30 Rock, has been hastily taken off the air. After claims and counter claims over what Baldwin said to the pap, the network MSNBC announced it was suspending his show, Up Late With Alec Baldwin for two weeks.
Baldwin initially claimed to have called the photographer a "fathead" and not a "fag". He later said: "I did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have – and for that I am deeply sorry."
The gay rights group Glaad, which defended Baldwin when he was accused of homophobia this summer, said the star needed to "end this pattern of anti-gay slurs". It added: "Mr Baldwin can't lend his support for equality on paper, while degrading gay people in practice."
The incident came shortly after the 55-year-old had tearfully testified at the trial of Genevieve Sabourin, a Canadian actor who was last week jailed for 210 days after being found guilty of stalking Baldwin and his wife Hilaria.
The events prompted a series of frantic headlines from gossip sites. "Alec Baldwin Bangs into Car, Chews Out Reporter," TMZ roared on Thursday.
The star has, over the past few years, garnered more press coverage for his tirades against cabin crews and journalists than for his lacklustre film career. In June he was accused of homophobia after taking to Twitter to call the MailOnline's reporter George Stark a "toxic little queen", after he claimed Baldwin's wife had been texting during James Gandolfini's funeral.
He was ejected from plane in 2011 after refusing to stop playing a mobile phone game, and has become embroiled in confrontations with news photographers. He and a New York Post photographer filed harassment complaints against each other after an altercation in February, and a Daily News photographer said Baldwin punched him in 2012, which the actor denies.