Alec Baldwin pulls Emmys sketch after phone hacking joke is cut

Actor asks not to appear in awards show after Fox insists on change

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Alec Baldwin asked for a skit filmed for last night’s Emmy awards not to be broadcast, after a joke referencing the News of the World phone hacking scandal was removed.

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Baldwin had pre-filmed the sketch in which he played a fictitious president of the television academy opposite Emmys host Jane Lynch. But when Fox bosses insisted a joke about the phone hacking scandal be removed from the piece, Baldwin asked that it be left out of the broadcast entirely, a request that Fox granted.

The Fox Network is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which also owned the now defunct News of the World paper. The joke reportedly involved Baldwin asking during a phone call, “Is that you, Rupert?” – suggesting Murdoch was listening in.

A Fox spokesperson defended the decision to remove the line, saying, “We take the hacking allegations seriously and did not want to appear to be making jokes about them.”

But Baldwin tweeted about the incident: “[It] sucks because I think it would have made them look better.”

He continued: “If I were enmeshed in a scandal where I hack the phone of families of innocent crime victims purely 4 profit, I’d want that 2 go away, 2.”

Baldwin was nominated in the outstanding leading actor in a comedy series category at the Emmys, for his performance as television network vice-president Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock, but lost out to The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons. Baldwin was not at the ceremony due to a prior commitment to attend crooner Tony Bennett’s 85th birthday party.

Baldwin will host an upcoming episode of satirical comedy institution Saturday Night Live on the NBC network. Asked if the Emmys incident would make an appearance on the show, director Don Roy King said, “I sure hope so… [but] the decisions are made by others.”

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Watch highlights of the Emmy Awards tonight at 10pm on 5USA.