Nora Ephron once wrote that there were times, when interviewing people, when she wanted to say: “Me! Me! Me! Enough about you. What about me?”
For Alec Baldwin, it’s more or less the inverse. In 2011, he started a podcast with WNYC, “Here’s the Thing,” so he could interview people the way he wanted to be interviewed—“where they feel comfortable and there’s no judgment,” he says.
“And eventually,” he adds, “when you don’t appear to be manipulating them and trying to take something from them, they give it to you anyway. If you don’t pressure them, they’re much more comfortable and amenable.”
Now ABC is mining that format for television. On “The Alec Baldwin Show,” starting Sunday, Mr. Baldwin will be in conversation with boldface names like Robert De Niro, Kim Kardashian West, Chris Christie and the Who’s Roger Daltrey.
Rob Mills, the network’s senior vice president for alternate series, specials and late night, likens the new series to ABC hits like “Dancing With the Stars” or even the BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off”: easy-to-watch TV with a “deceptively simple premise.”
“Whether it’s things like ‘Shark Tank’ or Alec’s show or ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Bachelor,’” he says, “they’re all kind of, sort of, one-line premises that actually run deeper than what you’re seeing in the promo.”
Mr. Baldwin won an Emmy last year for his President Trump cameos on “Saturday Night Live,” and he isn’t opposed to political debate on his show. “With people that I don’t have any agreement with politically, it depends on: Can we have a good conversation?” he says.
“The Alec Baldwin Show” airs Sunday, 10 p.m. ET, on ABC.