The 30 Rock nominee insists it wasn't over his opening sketch being cut

By Asher Fogle
Updated September 19, 2011 07:30 AM
Credit: Paul Hawthorne/Getty

It was a birthday party that kept Emmy nominee Alec Baldwin away from TV’s biggest night, not the fact that his opening skit got cut, he says.

“I didn’t skip the Emmys because of that,” the 30 Rock star told reporters Sunday at singing legend Tony Bennett’s 85th birthday gala in New York. “I skipped the Emmys because of this – because I wanted to be here.”

Baldwin, 53, says he agreed to host the gala a year ago, long before the awards show was scheduled. “The Emmys have been in August for the last several years, but they moved to this date and I’d already committed to this.”

He also said that when it came to winning, “There’s no chance.” As Baldwin accurately predicted, the Emmy for male lead in a comedy series went to Jim Parsons, of The Big Bang Theory.

“The Emmys are something I’m going to watch on YouTube tomorrow,” said Baldwin as he walked the red carpet with girlfriend Hilaria Thomas.

As for removing himself from the opening sketch in which he played the president of television (he was replaced by what many TV critics considered a miscast Leonard Nimoy), Baldwin confirmed it was because Fox, which broadcast the Emmys and is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News America corporation, cut out his joking reference to the phone hacking scandal involving the company.

Earlier in the day, Baldwin Tweeted: “Fox did kill my NewsCorp hacking joke. Which sucks bc I think it would have made them look better. A little.”

“[Fox] had asked me to do a sketch for them,” Baldwin explained. I flew out there [to Los Angeles]. I did the sketch, and it was shot. They cut out something that I thought was the funniest part. I guess it was offensive to them.”

Baldwin joked in the skit that Rupert Murdoch was eavesdropping on a phone conversation. Fox issued a statement that it did not wish to make light of the hacking scandal.