Oh 30 Rock, how I love you and your guest stars. It's like you've gone out and made a show just for me — you've had Salma Hayek on repeatedly this season, and now, last night, you had Alan Alda on the show… Alan Alda! I love Alan Alda. Not in the same way that I love Salma Hayek, but come on, Alan Alda, he's fantastic.
I of course associate Mr. Alda with his fabulous multi-year role on M*A*S*H. I know, he wasn't the first Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce – that distinction belongs to Donald Sutherland who played Hawkeye in the film – but it is impossible to not associate him the role. Alda and the producers of the show managed to make Hawkeye a womanizing scoundrel who was still hugely lovable and tragically flawed. Pierce is, perhaps, the perfect example of just what can be done with a character when given time to fully explore him.
Alda also appeared in several Woody Alan films, he even got to say one of my favorite Woody Alan lines ever “if it bends, it's funny; if it breaks, it's not funny.” Classic Woody Alan. Classic Alan Alda. Great movie.
Now, more recently, Alda has appeared on The West Wing as Senator Arnold Vinick, the guy on the Republican side in Presidential race during that show's last two seasons. He actually managed to make a Republican a sympathetic, likable figure. That's not an easy task.
Seriously though, that's just a smattering of Alda's career, he's done so much more – Same Time, Next Year; Paper Lion; Jake's Women; Betsy's Wedding (which he also wrote and directed); And the Band Played On; California Suite; The Aviator. Alda's credits are tremendous, and the most amazing thing is that even when he's playing a terrible human being, he seems like a great guy.
Every time I sit down and watch Alan Alda I can't help but think to myself that there is a man I would love to sit down and have a scotch and then a steak with. I don't know why a scotch and a steak, but it's what I imagine. I guess the scotch, of course, because that's a great pre-dinner drink while waiting for your table at the steak house, and a steak house seems like the right place to eat with him. I can picture it now, big comfortable leather chairs, understated wood-paneled walls, the smell of perfectly cooked meat and creamed spinach, it just seems so… right.
But, I digress. Alan Alda is one of the people I stop and watch every time I am flipping through the channels and come across his face. He has an amazing presence and a way of fully inhabiting all the characters he takes on. When you stop to watch an Alan Alda television show or film you know you're going to get something special from him even if the program itself isn't the greatest.
I have never met Alan Alda, and am quite convinced that I never will — he and I don't travel in the same circles. However, if I had the opportunity to meet just one star, he might be the guy. Next time he's on TV just give him the chance, you'll be impressed, I guarantee it.