I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but this? I had to put my two cents in. I don’t quite know what to make of the news coming out of New Mexico this week. A district attorney in Santa Fe has charged actor Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Hylana Hutchins on the set of the film Rust — in October of 2021. That date bears repeating: not October of last year, but October of 2021, a full year and two months.
DA Mary Carmack Altwies has herself a big, splashy case giving her big, splashy headlines guaranteeing her a questionable fifteen minutes of fame. I don’t mean to be cynical (well, maybe I do), but what exactly took her fourteen months to file charges against Baldwin. She is reported to have sought in excess of 600,000 dollars above and beyond the normal operating funds required to run her office. And why is that?
“I need funding for an attorney, investigator, media contact person, paralegal, expert witnesses, and general trial expenses.”
A media contact person? As a longtime journalist, I can attest to the fact that — with very few exceptions, governmental agencies have public information officers on staff. But this is no ordinary manslaughter case. After all, as I have read, the fine for these manslaughter charges is a whopping five thousand dollars. Or 35 thousand dollars.
I don‘t mean to make light of or to minimize the tragedy here. A woman died, a death that should not have happened. You probably have a better chance of being hit in a pedestrian crosswalk than you do of dying on a film set.
So many questions need answering here, but I have a few that come to mind.
Reports indicate live rounds were mixed with “dummy” rounds. What are real bullets doing on a movie set? Who is in charge of that?
Why is Alec Baldwin being charged with failure to check if there were real bullets in the gun?How is an actor supposed to know that?
Baldwin said that the blame lies with assistant director Dave Hall, who handed him the gun. The company that supplied the “dummy” bullets has been sued and accused of sending live rounds mixed in with the dummies. Ms. Hutchins’s widower, Mathew Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and the production. In a strange turn of events, as per The New York Times, Hutchins has settled his suit, and when production resumes this month he will be an executive producer.
Meantime, waiting in the wings and ready for her close-up is DA Mary Carmack Altwies. What could she thinking? State attorney general? Governor? Ah, perhaps she needs her own Hollywood publicist. It will take a unanimous jury to convict Baldwin. She could be counting her jurors before they vote.