Alec Baldwin is bracing himself for a new nightmare - a certifiable turkey of a movie he produced, directed and starred in years ago, but thought would never be released, is on its way to theaters this week.
And the incendiary actor is trying to do some 11th-hour damage control, begging his fans to steer clear of what he’s calling an “unrecognizable film.”
“The Devil and Daniel Webster,” originally shot in early 2001, has been retitled “Shortcut to Happiness” and will open in six cities this Friday the 13th - despite the fact, as Page Six reported several years ago, it’s “said to be so bad it is unreleasable.” Baldwin’s only consolation is that distributor Yari Film Group has yanked his name as director and producer, replacing it with the bizarre pseudonym “Harry Kirkpatrick.”
Baldwin based his PG-13 comedy-drama on the 1937 Stephen Vincent Benet short story about a down-and-out writer who sells his soul to the devil to achieve fame and then hires a lawyer to break the deal. He assembled a big-name cast to co-star with him, including Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kim Cattrall, Dan Aykroyd and Jason Patric.
But his directing and producing credits were removed by the producers soon after the picture wrapped because they didn’t like what they saw, and they recut it into a straight comedy. The film was also mired in legal problems when federal probers went after two of its investors for bank fraud. For good measure, Baldwin was sued by one of his producing partners over her cut.
Hollywood-elsewhere.com’s Jeffrey Wells, who broke the news of the movie’s upcoming release, called it “one of the biggest train wrecks of all time,” adding that New York and L.A. critics won’t likely get the chance to review it since it’s only opening in Las Vegas, Rochester, Fort Myers, Columbus, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, ahead of a DVD release.
Last night, Baldwin was doing his own pre-release spin. “Alec doesn’t recommend unrecognizable films to his fans,” a pal of the star told us. “This is not an Alec Baldwin film. He’s in the movie but he has nothing to do with it. His name was taken off as producer and director six years ago, but he couldn’t get it taken off as an actor.”