'Sopranos' Wasn't Enough for Daniel Baldwin

Daniel Baldwin | 'Borat' | Bob Dylan | Aretha Franklin

‘Sopranos' Wasn't Enough for Baldwin

Daniel Baldwin — brother of Alec, Billy and Stephen — continues to mystify everyone around him.

This week he was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., for grand theft auto and possession of illegal drugs. He’s out on $20,000 bail.

Baldwin has had many scrapes and embarrassing moments with the law, all due to drugs. New Yorkers will never forget a wild incident at the Plaza Hotel that brought the police and headlines several years ago.

And it’s not like Baldwin hasn’t been able to get work as an actor. As I first reported here some months ago, he appears in several of the final episodes of "The Sopranos," which will air beginning in March 2007. In kind of a "Get Shorty" nod, Baldwin plays a bad guy with whom ‘Christafuh’ (Michael Imperioli) gets involved when he tries to make a Hollywood movie.

A source from "The Sopranos" confirmed for me that Baldwin came to work and completed it. So that’s the tragedy of addiction: Even being on the most prestigious show on television isn’t enough to make him turn his life around. Sad.

What’s worse and even more embarrassing is that Baldwin has a 10-year-old son with his former "Homicide: Life on the Streets" co-star Isabella Hofmann. Lucky for him, Hofmann, a talented actress, continues to get a lot of series work. But when I recently asked a family member if Baldwin and Hofmann were married, or if he had anything to do with them, the insider replied quietly, "I don’t know."

And it’s all the more bewildering, I would think, to brother Billy, who’s happily married with children to singer Chynna Phillips. Even brother Stephen, who surprised his family by becoming a born-again Christian, has finally settled down after years of wild living.

And then there’s Alec, who despite his legal feud with ex-wife Kim Basinger and occasional public displays of frustration, is the hardest working guy in Hollywood. With very funny and memorable turns in "The Departed," "30 Rock" and "Running with Scissors," Baldwin should get some kind of award of this year for being everywhere and doing a good job at it.

'Borat' Becoming 'Zelig'?

Remember in Woody Allen’s brilliant "Zelig" when the main character starts getting sued by everyone after becoming famous? That’s what’s happening to Sacha Baron Cohen’s "Borat."

Now that "Borat" is a huge financial success, the lawyers are busying drafting documents to get pieces of the pie. First in line are those moronic college kids who got loaded with Cohen, went into their van and watched Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape. Yesterday they filed suit, claiming they were drunk when they signed releases to be in the movie.

You bet they were! But they were also pretty coherent on film as they spouted misogynistic babble. But the movie’s producers shouldn’t be totally surprised. Friends of the college guys wrote into the message board on the Internet Movie Database last May after the movie was screened in Cannes, describing the whole event. If someone can find the post, they may have evidence to use in court. The frats knew exactly what they were doing.

Meantime, "Borat" should be a monster at the box office this weekend as it expands from 837 to 2,566 screens. Just this week, from Monday through last night, it made about $9 million and easily swamped the competition. This weekend, its only real rival would be the excellent "Stranger Than Fiction," a funny, well-crafted and clever comedy that should not be missed.

And if you’re anywhere near "Volver," don’t miss what should be one of the five Best Picture nominees of the year, with Penelope Cruz, a shoo-in for Best Actress. Her Sophia Loren-like performance is one of the great joys of any year!

Dylan Serenaded, a No-Show

As predicted here, Bob Dylan’s Twyla Tharp Broadway musical will close on Nov. 19. Remember, I told you about three weeks ago that an insider with the show predicted a "$10 million write-off." You read it here first.

Last night, Dylan would have been a lot prouder if he’d shown up for what was billed as an "All-Star" tribute to him at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The occasion was a fundraiser for the UJA-Federation’s Music for Youth program, and the show was such a hot ticket I spotted lots of "deals" being consummated on the Plaza.

Inside, the show got off to a wobbly start with some strange performances, like Sandra Bernhard’s comic reading of "Like a Rolling Stone." Natalie Merchant and Philip Glass tried a monotonous version of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." Someone called Spottiswoode and His Enemies proved their name to be true on "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

But then some unexpected brilliance from lesser-known quantities: Jamie Saft’s jazz trio was passionate and remarkable on "Ballad of a Thin Man." Lee Ranaldo, who sports a lot of shaggy gray hair, really dug into the groove of "Positively 4th Street," describing it as "Dylan’s ultimate revenge song." Medeski, Martin & Wood turned out an inventive, kind of mesmerizing version of "Buckets of Rain." One of their gang played a small, white melodica at the end of a flex tube as if he were blowing life into a surge protector. Cool.

And there were some big guns that really worked, too: Allen Toussaint, just sitting at the piano, subtle and beautiful on "Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind." I hate to say it, but Toussaint’s Hurricane Katrina displacement to New York has been a blessing. I’m sorry he lost his home, but it’s been to our advantage. …

Jill Sobule and surprise guest Cyndi Lauper were smashing on "Ring Them Bells," from Dylan’s underrated "Oh Mercy" album. If this were 1976, Lorne Michaels should put them on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. …

Guitar legend Warren Haynes and Joan Osborne did a wonderful "I Shall Be Released." ...

Ditto Rosanne Cash and husband, Jon Leventhal, on "License to Kill." …

And Al Kooper, the guy who started it all, an actual Dylan associate, kind of saved the show on "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, a Train to Cry." The real show-stoppers, though, were The Roots on "Masters of War." Dylan would have been proud.

Backstage, Patti Smith — who performed an edgy "Dark Eyes" — hung out with Michael Stipe and Bernhard. She told me that her umpteenth nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pleased her, but "I think how lucky I am. There are so many talented performers who don’t get anywhere." Patti is working on what sounds like an exciting album of "iconic songs" for Columbia Records.

Aretha's in Town; Lucky Shopping

Lucky folks in Waterbury, Conn.: Miss Aretha Franklin is doing a show there on Sunday night. Tickets range from $40 to $80. I imagine the show is sold out, but try to see her anyway. When I spoke to the Queen of Soul yesterday, she was rarin’ to go. More with her in Monday’s column. …

New York women can shop like crazy, even if they have to brave a driving rain. On Wednesday night, Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife, one of my favorite people) and Lucky magazine put on a big shop-a-rama at the Gotham Hall to benefit Jessica’s Baby Buggy charity. I stopped by for a minute and nearly got trampled by some gals looking for purses the size of roll-ons!

Jessica saw me and, guessing my aversion to such things, exclaimed, "What are you doing here?!" Good question. But it was all for a worthy cause, and Molly Sims was there with "Project Runway." Jerry, I assume, was smartly either smoking cigars or driving around town in a Porsche.