Published February 20, 2013
Alec Baldwin’s hometown of Massapequa, N.Y., seems to be standing behind him as stories swirl about the “30 Rock” actor’s heated run-in with a member of the media.
Baldwin has denied allegations that he fired a racial slur at New York Post photographer G.N. Miller, but Mike Hanna, who is the president of the Massapequa High School Hall of Fame, said the organization has Baldwin's back either way.
Baldwin and his brother William have been members of the Long Island-based organization since the '90s, and Hanna said he has gotten to know Alec over the years.
“I know them both, and they are both good people,” Hanna said in Baldwin’s defense.
But recent events have painted a much less flattering image of the star. The Post photographer Miller and reporter Tara Palmeri claim they encountered an angry Baldwin when they approached him outside of his East Village residence this week.
Palmeri said she obtained an audio recording in which Baldwin tells her: “I want you to choke to death.” Miller, who is African American and a retired NYPD detective, told police the actor called him a “coon,” a “drug dealer” and a “crackhead,” according to The Post.
Now, the Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating Baldwin, an NYPD rep told FOX 411.
But the scandal won’t affect the actor’s standing in the Massapequa organization, Hanna said, even if Baldwin is charged with a hate crime.
“Alec has his way of doing things, but overall [he and William] are good for us,” Hanna explained.
“They have given back a lot,” he added. “He does so much good for us too.”
Hanna said the Baldwin brothers attend events for the Massapequa High School Hall of Fame whenever they are available and have also donated more than just their time to the group. Since 1995, the Hall of Fame has awarded yearly scholarships to Massapequa High School graduates, and Hanna said the Baldwin brothers have donated money to the scholarship funds.
In an interview with Gothamist on Tuesday, Baldwin said he feels he had two very different public personas. He said he is often seen as the actor embattled in angry fights with the media, but other times he is viewed as a generous philanthropist.
"I'm forever going into rooms in which...I'm not going to say I'm given the Nobel Prize or I'm treated like I'm [Innocence Project founder] Barry Scheck… But I'm forever involved in organizations I care about, and everything is fine [in that world]. And then I have this other world [in which they try to] bring you down in some way."
In the interview, Baldwin vehemently denied calling Miller a “coon,” adding that the word choice was foreign to him.
"If [Miller] is gonna pull a word out of thin air and ascribe it to me, what word does he choose? I thought that was fascinating. That word in particular..." Baldwin told the website.
"I grew up around people who threw the N-word around fairly regularly," he added. "This is a word that no one in the greater New York area uses."
Baldwin admitted to telling Palmeri he wanted her to “choke to death,” but he claimed the words were taken out of context. He also owned up to calling Miller a “drug dealer” and “crackhead” though he said those comments, too, were misunderstood.
A rep from the NYPD told FOX 411 the Hate Crimes Task Force’s investigation of Baldwin is still ongoing.