ABC’s ‘The Alec Baldwin Show’ grabs rare primetime berth for interview series

Alec Baldwin has landed primetime real estate on ABC for an interview show to air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. in the fall.

“The Alec Baldwin Show” had a test drive (as “Sundays with Alec Baldwin”) on March 4, when it aired as part of ABC’s post-Academy Awards telecast package. ABC’s scheduling decision marks a rare example of a talk show in primetime on a Big Four network. But the Sunday 10 p.m. time slot has been such a challenge for ABC in recent years that there’s not much to lose by giving Baldwin a shot.

The last unscripted talk-based program to air on broadcast TV was NBC’s experiment with “The Jay Leno Show” as a Monday-Friday talk-variety vehicle in the fall of 2009. That show ended after five months, setting off the battle between Leno and Conan O’Brien for the helm of the “Tonight Show.”

Baldwin’s show will emphasize lengthy sit-down interviews. It’s an offshoot of sorts of his podcast “Here’s the Thing,” produced in association with public radio station WNYC. Baldwin is known for his progressive views and as an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump (who he plays regularly on “Saturday Night Live”) but ABC execs indicated that the show will focus on celebrities. His first installment featured Jerry Seinfeld and Kate McKinnon as guests.

“What’s great about what Alec does is he’ll talk with people about the span of their career,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.

The first batch of “Alec Baldwin Show” episodes will be taped in June. ABC will leave a little bit of wiggle room in the schedule for Baldwin to take on more timely issues when warranted. She said the specifics on the show are still being finessed.

“We shot four (episodes) at different opportunities to pilot this,” she said. “We did two in front of an audience. We’re still figuring out exactly what the format will be.”

Baldwin is known in TV for his Emmy-winning run on “30 Rock.” He had a brief run as host of an MSNBC show, “Up Late,” in 2014 but it was axed after Baldwin was accused of hurling a gay slur at a photographer, something he denied.

“Alec Baldwin Show” is exec produced by Jason Schrift, an alum of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” along with Baldwin and Mallory Schwartz of El Dorado Pictures.