Todd Hartley: I’m with Stupid
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Remember that Alec Baldwin brother you never liked? Not Billy and not that other one whose name you can never recall. Who was he, Daniel or something like that? No, I’m talking about the other one, the one who starred in that stupid Pauly Shore “Bio-Dome” movie you never saw. What was that one’s name? Stephen? Yeah, that’s it, Stephen Baldwin.
Anyway, apparently he’s bankrupt, and he needs your money. But we’ll get to that later.
If you remember Stephen at all, it’s probably from the 1995 movie “The Usual Suspects,” in which he did a surprisingly good job playing a two-bit criminal named Michael McManus. The next year he appeared in “Bio-Dome,” and two years later he had a great cameo in the movie “Half Baked,” playing a creative stoner who offers up this classic line when told he lacks the necessary accouterments to get high:
“Then get me an avocado, an ice pick and my snorkel. Trust me, bro; I’ve made bongs with less.” Good stuff.
Not long after that, though, Stephen’s career, such as it was, took a bit of a downturn. Oh, he was still appearing in movies, just not movies that made it to theaters. His most notable role in the years following “Half Baked” was as Barney Rubble in “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.” I’m going to assume you missed that one, too.
So, with his never-terribly-bright-to-begin-with star on the wane, Stephen did what any desperate C-list actor would do: He became a born-again Christian. (If you doubt his desperation, keep in mind that in 2008 he got the initials HM – as in “Hannah Montana” – tattooed on his shoulder in a pathetic attempt to get Miley Cyrus to let him make an appearance on her show. To date she hasn’t.)
Stephen claims he had drug and alcohol problems, and that was a large part of the reason he gave himself over to Jesus. If that’s the case, fine. Anything you need to do to save yourself from the ravages of substance abuse, you should do. But I can’t help feeling Stephen’s conversion had more to do with the almighty dollar than anything spiritual.
In 2006, Stephen released a tell-all book called “The Unusual Suspect” detailing his drug abuse problems and his turn to Christianity. The only reason I know this is because I saw an interview Larry King did with him in which Stephen repeatedly plugged his book and called out Bono – as in the most philanthropic person on the planet – for not using his platform to bring more people to Christianity.
Later in 2006 Stephen and two business partners founded Breakthrough Ministry, which attempted to use extreme sports to drive young people to the church. In 2008, he formed a for-profit organization called Antioch Ministry “to facilitate the gifts and calling of Stephen Baldwin.” And in 2009 he formed a third ministry, Now More Than Ever, to spread the word of Christ to enlisted men and women around the world.
It’s possible that the book and Stephen’s ministries aren’t money-making scams, though I personally doubt it. Even if that’s the case, however, it still makes Stephen one of the most annoying types of people on the planet: the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, overly preachy, sickeningly self-righteous born-again Christian. I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand these people.
Of course, if Stephen’s ministries and book are supposed to be making him money, they’re not doing a very good job. Despite those things, and despite appearing in more than 40 films and owning a house valued at more than $1.1 million, Stephen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, claiming he was more than $2.3 million in debt.
Incredibly, Stephen’s tale of woe so moved some unnamed Christian that there is now a website called restorestephenbaldwin.com that reads in part: “The vision is simple. Together, let’s restore a man of God.” Baldwin claims not to be involved with the site, but his “spiritual advisor” and business partner, Daniel Southern, has given the site written permission to accept donations on Baldwin’s behalf.
Yeah, forget about earthquake relief in Haiti and helping starving children in Sudan. It’s much more important to help Stephen freakin’ Baldwin. That’d be the Christian thing to do.
Elsewhere on the site it says, “What if 10 percent of the world’s 2 billion Christians gave a token gift?” I think I know the answer to that one: That would mean 200 million people got conned.
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.