Published June 28, 2011
Beware the wrath of Alec Baldwin, as insulting him, even by accident, may cost you your job.
New York-based freelance writer Oliver Miller learned that lesson when a 273-word article he wrote for AOL's TV section, “Jim Parsons Won An Emmy - But Got A Rude Message From Loser Alec Baldwin,” landed on AOL’s homepage last October.
Miller’s article described a video where Parsons mentioned that Baldwin had sent him a fruit basket with the note “Congratulations you talented, charming bastard” after winning an award.
Miller, 35, in order to make a “boring” video clip sound more exciting, omitted everything Baldwin wrote in the note except the word “bastard.”
Hours after Miller’s article was posted to the AOL homepage, Baldwin—an AOL spokesperson—penned an article for the Huffington Post about the film “Waiting for Superman,” and included a very angry postscript.
“I thought that was a joke,” Baldwin wrote about the fruit basket fiasco. “I think Parsons knew that. I think anyone on Earth could see that. Except the eighth degree, black belt idiots that compose the AOL homepage. I'm still a loyal AOL user. In spite of the fact that its homepage content is written by the dumbest bastards in the world.”
“I feel bad about the title,” Miller tells FOX411.com . “AOL wanted attention-getting titles, it didn’t really have to relate to the content, so the title I wrote was sort of purposely misleading. It was meant to be a joke, because the article itself was jokey. I didn’t know Alec Baldwin worked for us, and it was one of eight to ten articles that I had written that day.”
After Baldwin’s article was published on the Huffington Post, Miller’s article disappeared from the AOL homepage.
“After working all night, I checked in to see if I got 200 comments or if no one liked it,” Miller explained. “I thought it was a glitch in the system because the article was down. I emailed them and was like, ‘Hey, I think something went wrong—one of my articles disappeared. Am I still getting paid for it?’ and they were really vague about what happened.”
Soon, Miller was summoned to meet with his bosses with no explanation. “I emailed a friend and told her, ‘I have to go into AOL headquarters and I don’t know why.’ She sent me a link to the Huffington Post article. My first reaction was, 'Crap, Alec Baldwin is mad at me.' My second reaction was, 'This can't be the worst thing that anyone's ever written about him.'”
At AOL headquarters, Miller offered to apologize to Baldwin. “AOL never told me what happened—they just called me in. I had realized what happened and I told them, ‘Hey, I could just meet with Alec Baldwin and apologize and explain that it was just a joke.’ And they were like, ‘Um, no.’”
Miller was put on notice and eventually fired from AOL. He wrote an article for the Faster Times detailing his harrowing experience at AOL, not mentioning Baldwin by name.
“I didn’t put his name in article because I thought it would be really classy of me,” says Miller. “I didn’t realize that everyone could just Google in the quote and figure out who it was. And of course, that’s what everyone did. I guess maybe I would have done that had I read the article, but I didn’t think anyone would be that interested in the article. I was surprised. I was like, ‘Dude, it’s about AOL, it’s business news—no one will care.’”
People did care, and the article in the Faster Times now has the writer flooded with offers—he’s also writing a book and has a literary agent.
Despite his success, a remorseful Miller would still like to apologize to the “30 Rock” star, “If I could, I would buy him a beer and say, ‘Dude, I’m really sorry—I was just doing my job.’”