Thrice-wed Karen Darling may be headed down the aisle again on Dirty Sexy Money (10 pm/ET, ABC) tonight, but it's her brother Patrick who's in for some serious marital mayhem after his affair with transgendered knockout Carmelita is hauled out of the closet. We talked with William Baldwin about playing the shady politico and maintaining his own family ties.
TV Guide: Of all the political scandals we've seen, Patrick and Carmelita definitely break the mold.
Baldwin: Some might think it's kinky or deviant, and he may have been drawn [to Carmelita] for those reasons, but at some point it became very real. I have friends who say that we're the most normal couple on the show, the most stable. People seem to be loving it.
TV Guide: Even though we've already been through the politician-and-his-wronged-wife scandals before.
Baldwin: Yeah, I mean... I don't think it's modeled after Bill and Hillary, but there are many similar elements. Patrick's relationship with his wife, Ellen, sort of reminds me of the Clinton marriage, where some see it as an arrangement. But I know them a little bit — and I know people who know them very well — and they say their relationship is totally legit and that there is a really great love affair rooted in the midst of [their political lives].
TV Guide: Word is that Patrick's wife learns the awful truth from an unlikely source.
Baldwin: I don't want to give too much away, but they've hinted at who it might be... and there are so many red herrings with the show, you never know.
TV Guide: And what do you feel is the draw between Patrick and Carmelita?
Baldwin: You know, I have spoken to Candis [Cayne, who plays Carmelita] and she has told me that a lot of times people are attracted to her and desire a relationship [with her] because these guys are overwhelmed with the blessings that have been bestowed upon them and all the gifts they've been given. So they begin to second-guess themselves — what did they do to earn it. Everything was handed to them, sort of like Patrick, so it's a self-destructive behavior. They are initially drawn in as a way to almost punish themselves. It's like a self-sabotage. I actually think Clinton was like that, too. I never thought he was a sex addict; I think he was a guy who got off on the thrill of pushing the envelope, the risk of throwing away everything he had worked his life for. "Can I get away with this? Can I pull it off?"
TV Guide: Similarly, Patrick has a ton to lose.
Baldwin: Right. And there is a part of me that's feeling like I don't want Patrick to run for Senate just because his father wants him to. If he doesn't want to do it at 38 years old, I don't want Tripp [played by Donald Sutherland] wiping his nose and tying his shoelaces for him.... Patrick needs to make this decision because it's something he truly wants for himself. He just has to figure out how to get out from under the immense shadow and influence of his father.
TV Guide: What is going to be the fallout from Ellen finding out?
Baldwin: You may think she's found out from one person, but she may not have. But she does find out and pulls a Hillary Clinton. She says, "I didn't marry a Darling for nothing. I am not letting your indiscretions stand in the way of our dreams." She says, "The three of us are going to sit down and lay down some ground rules." So there are some incredible scenes with my wife and Carmelita. They basically have my custody scene, arguing and haggling over me. And then, to make a long story short, my wife changes her mind and rescinds the deal in a very dramatic way.
TV Guide: Sounds twisted as usual!
TV Guide: Of course, if any of this gets out, your political career is ruined.
Baldwin: Who knows! In this day and age...
TV Guide: You could get your own talk show!
Baldwin: Exactly! [Laughs]
TV Guide: Did you imagine the show would turn out to be so fun?
Baldwin: I didn't really know who was involved. I knew there was an offer out to Peter [Krause], but I wasn't sure of who else was involved. I didn't even know Peter that well — I knew he was on Six Feet Under — and of course, I knew Jill [Clayburgh] and Donald, but as far as the rest of the cast, I had no idea. And now, we're all one big happy family. [Laughs]
TV Guide: Really?
Baldwin: Yeah, everybody is getting along really well. It's kind of strange for me to be shooting a TV series in L.A. I'm so used to doing a film for six weeks on location in some obscure part of Canada where, when you wrap, everyone goes back to the hotel and all you have is the same three bars, the same restaurants.... You achieve a high degree of intimacy very quickly. Here, the same thing has happened, but then everybody gets to go back to their lives. As soon as I finish work, I run home to my wife and kids.
TV Guide: Not bad for what is basically your first series.
Baldwin: Well, I did a show last year called Waterfront that never made the air. They ordered 13 episodes but we only shot three or four of them. You know Les Moonves, he's got a hair-trigger finger. It was midseason and what happened was, they canceled Smith and replaced it with [the Stanley Tucci brain-surgery drama] 3 LBS. That day they told us to go home and I think the money they saved from Episodes 5 to 23, they may have used to pay off the penalties to [Smith staffers like] John Wells and Ray Liotta and whoever else was owed.
TV Guide: Do you see any similarities between the Darling kids and the Baldwin boys?
Baldwin: You know, I have nothing in common with these people and I have everything in common with them. Way more than I'm comfortable with.
TV Guide: Is there a rivalry now that you and Alec are both working on critically lauded shows?
Baldwin: No, he actually hasn't said a word to me about this. And I haven't seen every episode of 30 Rock, but when I do, I call and leave him a voice mail that I saw it, I liked it, blah, blah, blah. We watched the [Dirty] pilot together and he made a couple of [jokes]: "Yeah, you take a bunch of great actors and a salacious storyline...." He basically said it was a recipe for a hit.
TV Guide: Isn't it every brother's job to break stones?
Baldwin: Yeah, I guess he was... you know, I don't know what the hell he was trying to do. [Laughs] Maybe we should get him on the phone and find out!
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