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Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria need to stay off social media, except to honor Halyna Hutchins, crisis experts say

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Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria need to stay off social media, except to honor Halyna Hutchins, crisis experts say

UPDATE: Alec Baldwin briefly returned to social media late Friday night to  retweet an article with a headline about how he was “Told Prop Gun Safe Before Fatal Shooting.”

The article from Variety cites an affidavit filed by investigators, which said that the gun handed to Baldwin on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust,” and used in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was declared safe by the production’s assistant director.

Original story follows:

Alec Baldwin and his influencer wife, Hilaria Baldwin, have bolstered their careers by being extremely active on Instagram, with the highly opinionated actor regularly sharing his reflections on culture and politics and the couple constantly disseminating images of their happy life with their six young children.

But crisis management and public relations experts say that Baldwin and others close to him, especially Hilaria, face intense scrutiny in the coming weeks, due to Baldwin’s role in the shooting death Thursday of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the actor’s latest movie, “Rust.”

For that reason, the “30 Rock” star and his wife need to keep a low profile and to take care with any public statements or in how they are seen in public, said Evan Nierman, founder of the crisis management and P.R. firm Red Banyan.

“Every gesture, every part of his appearance, every public statement will be scrutinized,” said Nierman. “He needs to be very cautious and controlled. … He even needs to make sure he’s not photographed out having dinner with friends, or laughing at a joke, or even seen smiling. It would be easy for someone to take a photo or video of him and spin it and attack him. If you’re a mega-celebrity, one of the ways you take away opportunities for people to do that is to stay out of the public eye.”

Staying out of the public eye also means that Baldwin needs to suspend sharing his views on social media about other topics, or promoting upcoming projects or even posting cute family photos, as if life in the Baldwin household goes on, Nierman said. It’s also important that Alec and others close to him not say too much about any hardships he or his family are suffering in the wake of Hutchins’ death and Souza’s injury.

“If he starts talking about other issues, he runs the risk of being criticized for not paying enough attention to what’s happened or not being empathetic to Hutchins’ family or not understanding the gravity of what’s happened,”  Nierman continued.

This restraint also applies to Hilaria Baldwin, 37, who reportedly left the couple’s Manhattan apartment Friday morning, the New York Post reported. Baldwin was photographed Saturday at a Santa Fe hotel with Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their 9-year-old son.

Hilaria Baldwin is known for regularly posting selfies, which show her executing yoga poses or trying to look alluring while breastfeeding one of their two babies. The Boston-born-and-reared Hilaria also continues to lament the way she’s been criticized on social media. Earlier this year, she was caught falsely presenting herself as “half-Spanish” for 10 years, likely to build a brand as a glamorous European immigrant.

About three hours before the shooting, Hilaria Baldwin shared an Instagram Story image of Baldwin on FaceTiming from New Mexico. The actor had had visible bags under his eyes and appeared drawn during the conversation.

“She reflects on his brand,” Nierman said. “It’s incumbent on her to adhere to those same practices. It would be advisable for her or him to do something on social media that expresses their grief for Hutchins, something very heartfelt that reflects the statement he put out on Twitter (Friday). Then let that be all the say for a time.”

In his two-tweet statement, Baldwin called the death of Hutchins on the set of the Western film “a tragic accident.” The actor, who has been a fixture in film, TV and theater since the 1980s, said there “are no words to convey my shock and sadness.”

Nierman praised Baldwin’s statement for being “short and sweet” and for also stating the fact that he’s fully cooperating with the police investigation. Nierman said that’s about all Baldwin or anyone close to him needs to say at this point.

Hutchins, 42, died Thursday after Santa Fe County Sheriff’s authorities say Baldwin fired a “prop gun” that also wounded the film’s director, Fremont native Joel Souza, 48. Souza was treated and released from a Santa Fe, New Mexico hospital.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Baldwin, also a producer on the film, was rehearsing a scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch that involved a gun fight. The Times also reported that members of the camera crew had walked off the set to protest working conditions, which they said included complaints of long hours, long commutes and problems collecting their paychecks. Morever, crew members expressed concern about two accidental prop gun discharges that occurred days earlier.

In the coming days, weeks or months, Baldwin’s reputation and career depends heavily on what the investigation shows about what led to Hutchins’ death, said Eric Schiffer, chairman of the Los Angeles-based firm, Reputation Management Consultants.

“If this was a terrible accident, and Baldwin were my client, I would be advising him to keep a lower profile in the short term,” Schiffer said. “I would tell him to do what he can behind the scenes for the families and the crew who are shaken by this.”

Schiffer emphasized that “behind the scenes” means that neither Baldwin nor his wife should broadcast efforts he is making on behalf of Hutchins’ widower and family. It’s possible that these details could leak to the media, but Baldwin’s public efforts should come off “as authentic,” as if they “come from the heart,” Schiffer said.

On Friday, Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, declined to say much, but issued a statement to confirm that Baldwin had been in touch and was being “supportive,” the Daily Mail reported.

Schiffer said Baldwin also should do what he can to make sure that he’s as transparent as possible about his role in the shooting. Baldwin’s career is in a precarious, “debilitating” position, Schiffer said.

Having spent time on film sets, Schiffer is among many industry insiders who have expressed shock over how such an accident could happen in 2021, given all the strict safety protocols that are supposed to be in place when firearms are used on film and TV sets.

Schiffer, moreover, agreed that Baldwin is a polarizing figure in U.S. culture, known for his outspoken liberal politics, personal controversies, famous temper and fights with reporters. That means there’s a segment of the U.S. population that would be ready to pounce on any sign that Baldwin acted “outside the bounds” of proper procedures. As a producer of the film, he  may face added legal liability.

“If this was not an accident, or showed terrible judgement on his part, this will haunt him forever,” Schiffer said. “It will come down to whether producers and studios want to work with him again. I don’t think it will kill his career. But a pariah-set of clouds will follow him for some time. The incident will be tattooed to his forehead because it’s hard to unring the death of this person.”

But if authorities find that the shooting was an accident, Baldwin may become a hugely sympathetic figure, whose career could easily survive.

Nonetheless, Huchins’ death  is “a huge personal tragedy” for Baldwin, and it remains to be seen whether he will able to process the trauma enough that he can resume his career, Nierman added.

“If he doesn’t have a personal crisis or meltdown of his own, he will move past this,” Nierman said. “It ended a life but it won’t end his career.”

This story has been updated. 

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Grading the Week: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun continues to run circles around his Colorado counterparts — literally

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Grading the Week: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun continues to run circles around his Colorado counterparts — literally

The triple-option offense is a curveball every defensive coordinator sees coming — but still can’t hit.

And it’s one of the primary reasons the Grading the Week staff hold an undying affinity for Troy Calhoun’s Air Force Falcons.

Troy Calhoun — A

The box score from Air Force’s 48-14 rout of UNLV at Falcon Stadium on Friday says it all.

The Falcons ran 69 offensive plays, gained 511 yards, scored six touchdowns … and didn’t attempt a single pass.

That, dear readers, is a work of art. Frame it and auction it off as an NFT. And while you’re at it, maybe consider shipping it north to the three other major college football programs in the Centennial State. Because that sort of dominance hasn’t been seen at CU, CSU or Northern Colorado in quite a while.

With Friday’s blowout victory, the Falcons closed out the regular season with a 9-3 record overall. That’s nine wins in 12 games — or one short of CU, CSU and UNC combined (10) with a bowl game left to play.

Just two years ago, Calhoun was rumored to be a candidate for CU’s head coaching vacancy after Mel Tucker bolted for B1G cash. His candidacy was met with a collective yawn from Buffs faithful, though Calhoun’s Falcons have nearly four times as many bowl bids (11) as CU (3) during his 15-year tenure.

No doubt, visions of triple-option Saturdays at Folsom Field clouded CU fans’ minds.

To which we say this: Things could be much, more worse. Like, say, the 2021 Buffs offense.

Nuggets injuries — F

Hello darkness, my old friend. It’s painful to see you visiting the Nuggets once again.

But here we are, mourning the loss of yet another player to a season-ending injury (guard P.J. Dozier, ACL tear) while anxiously awaiting word on whether or not another (forward Michael Porter Jr., back) will suffer the same fate.

With even the indefatigable Nikola Jokic missing games to a wrist injury, and Jamal Murray months away from re-joining the team after suffering an ACL tear of his own last spring, it’s starting to feel like this season is already lost.

While the Nuggets are still near locks to reach the postseason for a fourth straight year — there’s no way a Jokic-led squad finishes outside the Western Conference top 10 — it’s hard to imagine them making any noise when they get there.

If that’s the case, that leaves us pondering yet another depressing thought: Under those circumstances, should Denver even consider rushing Murray back before the playoffs this season?

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Chargers’ Austin Ekeler rides momentum of four-TD game, career season into AFC West showdown against Broncos

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Chargers’ Austin Ekeler rides momentum of four-TD game, career season into AFC West showdown against Broncos

Last Sunday, facing the Steelers in primetime, the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler became just the fourth running back since 2000 to score multiple rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game.

This Sunday, the Eaton High and Western Colorado product is the Broncos’ problem.

Ekeler, 26, has the wind at his back entering Empower Field as he’s already posted career highs in rushing yards (573) and total touchdowns (13). And the timing of that surge isn’t lost on Ekeler, who was reflective this past week about his journey from a small-town undrafted fringe prospect to one of the league’s top dual-threat tailbacks.

“(It) is a special feeling with how far my journey’s come from running down on punts my rookie year to now,” Ekeler told Los Angeles media. “I feel like I’m leading the running back room, trying to get these guys going. There’s a lot of confidence in myself from my teammates and my coaches and that’s really special because it’s been a long journey and I’ve put a lot into this.

“And I’m going to continue to keep going, I’m going to continue to push (my teammates)… I’m enjoying this year so much, just with what our new culture is here.”

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Uyghur genocide accusations prompts calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics from US lawmakers

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Beijing Olympics

Concerns over the safety of U.S. athletes in the Winter Olympics in Beijing are mounting as President Joe Biden mulls a “diplomatic boycott” and questions about the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai remain unanswered.

Driving the news: Biden confirmed last week that the U.S. is “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the event, which is scheduled to take place in the Chinese capital and nearby towns from Feb. 4-20, 2022. The move is intended to protest the government’s human rights abuses, primarily its alleged genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

  • “There are areas that we do have concerns: human rights abuses,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters last Thursday. “We have serious concerns.”
  • A diplomatic boycott would result in U.S. officials skipping the Games, according to Reuters. Since a decision has not been finalized, the full scope of such a boycott remains unclear.

What leaders are saying: The decision for a diplomatic boycott has won support from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, according to CNN. Some Republicans, however, are pushing for a total boycott, citing safety concerns for U.S. athletes.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) first called for a diplomatic boycott in May while slamming corporate sponsors who “look the other way” on China’s abuses. “For heads of state to go to China, in light of a genocide that is ongoing while you’re sitting there in your seats, really begs the question: What moral authority do you have to speak about human rights any place in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide?” she asked during a hearing on the Games, according to CNBC.
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), on the other hand, has called for a full boycott while accusing the Chinese Communist Party of having “no value for life.” She cited the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai — whose reappearance this week only raised more questions — as enough indication to warrant a complete pass on Beijing 2022.
  • “If you’re not going to toe the line, then they’re going to disappear you. And this is why we think it is unsafe for our athletes to go to the Olympics in Beijing,” Blackburn said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “This is something that seems to be happening more regularly. So why would the US Olympic Committee send our athletes into this type of environment?”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) supports a diplomatic boycott. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” he expressed his hopes for America’s participation in the Games. “It’s important we do two things at the Olympics in China: Number one, that we actually show the courage the Women’s Tennis Association is showing to call out the murder, the genocide, the torture, the lies, the complicity in COVID-19 of the Chinese Communist government, to speak the truth. ,” Cruz said. “And then number two, I really hope our young men and women — that they go over there and kick their commie asses — we need to win in the Olympics.”
  • Cruz stressed that a full boycott would be a mistake, citing a similar decision made by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. “All it did was punish a generation of athletes,” he said. “We’ve got young men and young women — Americans who spent their whole lives practicing for this moment. I don’t want to punish those young athletes.”

China’s response: China has long denied allegations of abuse in Xinjiang, claiming that its actions were meant to deter terrorism and “re-educate” Uyghurs. On Tuesday, state-backed Global Times published an editorial commenting on the diplomatic boycott, saying China finds the idea unworthy of its attention and that it should only focus on its own path.

  • “The elites of the US and other Western countries do not matter much whether they are envious, jealous, hateful, fearful or angry. It’s not worthy for China to spend energy and resources to care about their emotions and attitudes and even attempt to reverse their negative thoughts toward China,” Global Times noted.
  • The editorial pointed out that China will only lose if it cared about such concerns. Still, the piece acknowledged that the Winter Olympics will serve as a ground for a “severe ideological clash” between China and “the U.S.-led West.”
  • “If the US wants to lead its allies in using the Beijing Winter Olympics as a stage to showcase such divergences, China needs only to morally expose their attempts and oppose them, while completely disregarding their superficial attacks toward China, as China no longer anticipates that the US and its allies would cooperate with China in such international events. As a result, we will make most of the ideological tools of the West useless,” the editorial said.

Featured Image via Beijing 2022

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