Alec Baldwin Goes on Trial over Fatal 'Rust' Shooting

FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home in New York, US, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/David 'Dee' Delgado//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home in New York, US, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/David 'Dee' Delgado//File Photo
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Alec Baldwin Goes on Trial over Fatal 'Rust' Shooting

FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home in New York, US, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/David 'Dee' Delgado//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin departs his home in New York, US, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/David 'Dee' Delgado//File Photo

Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial over the fatal 2021 shooting on the set of a Western movie begins Tuesday, with the selection of a jury who must decide if a "Rust" crew member's death was his fault.
The Hollywood A-lister was pointing a prop gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a scene rehearsal when it fired a live round, killing her and wounding the movie's director, said AFP.
Baldwin, 66, says he did not know the gun was loaded and did not pull the trigger. Prosecutors say he acted recklessly on set and has repeatedly changed his story since the tragic events of October 2021.
Multiple attempts by Baldwin's lawyers to have the case thrown out have failed. On Monday, the actor attended a final pre-trial hearing, taking detailed notes on a yellow pad that he stashed in a Barnes & Noble tote bag.
Jury selection begins Tuesday, with opening arguments expected Wednesday and the case in the southwestern state of New Mexico due to last around 10 days.
Due to the "30 Rock" actor's immense fame, and the rarity of on-set deaths, the story has garnered global attention while sharply polarizing opinion.
Sympathetic observers view Baldwin as a victim who has been pursued by prosecutors in part due to his status as a celebrity and liberal darling.
Others see the death as the easily avoidable result of a movie star's allegedly unpredictable and complacent behavior.
"To watch Mr Baldwin's conduct on the set of 'Rust' is to witness a man who has absolutely no control of his own emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct affects those around him," special prosecutor Kari Morrissey has said.
If found guilty, Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison. It is not yet known if he plans to take the stand in his defense.
- 'Basic gun safety' -
Hutchins's death occurred almost three years ago, during a rehearsal in a small chapel on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, on a sunny afternoon mid-way through the filming of "Rust."
Baldwin was practicing a scene in which his character, an aging outlaw who has been cornered in the church by two marshals, draws his Colt six-shooter.
The actor says he was told the gun was safe, was instructed by Hutchins to aim the revolver in her direction, and did not pull the trigger.
Live bullets are in any case banned from movie sets, and Baldwin has said it was not his responsibility as an actor to check.
Filming of "Rust" was halted by the tragedy, but completed last year on location in Montana.
Earlier this year the film's armorer was convicted of manslaughter in the same courthouse, and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Her trial revealed arguments the prosecution will likely level against Baldwin.
At the time, armorer Hannah Gutierrez's defense lawyers said Baldwin "violated some of the most basic gun safety rules you can ever learn," including never pointing a gun at a person unless you intend to fire it.
"Alec Baldwin's conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something that he's going to have to answer for," responded Morrissey.
"Not with you and not today. That'll be with another jury, on another day."
Defense boost
That day has now arrived.
On Monday, Baldwin -- dressed in a dark suit and striped tie, wearing thick-rimmed glasses and with his hair clipped short -- observed as lawyers settled various pre-trial matters.
In a boost for the defense, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled prosecutors cannot argue Baldwin's additional role as a producer on "Rust" makes him more culpable.
But the case finally arriving in court is already a victory for prosecutors, who have fended off multiple attempts to have it dismissed.
Among these, Baldwin's lawyers said damage to the gun caused by an FBI testing lab meant the actor could not get a fair trial.
The FBI found the gun could not have fired without its trigger being pulled -- a conclusion the defense say they were robbed of a chance to disprove.
The judge was not convinced, and ordered the trial to proceed.



Netflix Beats Subscriber Targets, Cautions on Ad Growth

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
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Netflix Beats Subscriber Targets, Cautions on Ad Growth

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Netflix said on Thursday it added more than 8 million subscribers in its second quarter as the streaming service benefited from a password-sharing crackdown and the popularity of such titles as "Bridgerton," "Baby Reindeer" and "The Roast of Tom Brady."
While the subscriber gains topped analyst predictions of 5 million, Netflix issued cautious guidance for the third quarter and said its advertising business would not become a primary driver of revenue growth until at least 2026, said Reuters.
Netflix shares reversed initial losses after it reported results to trade up 1% in after-hours trading. The stock has surged nearly a third so far this year.
"Netflix is still the best and most profitable streaming company out there, but with technology stocks generally retreating over the last several days, some investors may sell on the generally good news and taking profits now while waiting for a possible better re-entry point for the stock," said Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital.
The streaming video pioneer is facing saturation in the United States and plans to stop regularly reporting new subscriber additions next year. Investors have been zeroing in on the company's relatively new advertising business as a potential source of growth.
On Thursday, Netflix said third-quarter subscriber gains would be lower than the comparable period in 2023 when it had just started the password clamp-down.
The company also said its vice president of ad sales, Peter Naylor, was departing.
Third Bridge analyst Jamie Lumley said Netflix's advertising business "has yet to prove itself from a revenue standpoint."
"Our experts highlight that Amazon has made a much bigger splash in the ad market and Netflix needs to continue working on scale in this segment if it wants to be a major player," Lumley said.
For April through June, Netflix posted diluted per-share earnings of $4.88, compared with consensus forecasts of $4.74 a share, according to LSEG. Revenue for the quarter reached $9.56 billion, in line with estimates.
At the end of June, the new sign-ups brought the total number of global Netflix subscribers to more than 277 million.
Netflix said its ad tier membership grew 34% from the prior quarter, but it did not say how many subscribers chose that option.
"Our ad business is growing nicely and is becoming a more meaningful contributor to our business," Netflix said in a letter to investors. "But building a business from scratch takes time - and coupled with the large size of our subscription revenue - we don't expect advertising to be a primary driver of our revenue growth in 2024 or 2025."
On a post-earnings video, Netflix Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann said the company's advertising business is "growing nicely," but it is building off a small base.
"It's a meaningful contributor," Neumann said. "And then we get (to) '26 and beyond, it can be even more meaningful, and hopefully comes to the point where it's a primary contributor."
The company said it expects third-quarter revenue growth of 14% compared with a year ago.
Three years into its videogame initiative, Netflix said it planned to release a multiplayer game based on "Squid Game" later this year when it debuts Season Two of the dystopian Korean series. It also plans games tied to "Emily in Paris" and "Selling Sunset."