LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The protracted custody battle between divorced Hollywood stars Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger returned to court on Friday, two weeks after his child visitation rights were suspended over a ranting phone message to their daughter.
Basinger and her attorney appeared with Baldwin’s lawyer before Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Maren Nelson for a hearing the judge closed to the media about 10 minutes into the proceedings. Baldwin himself was not present at the outset of the hearing.
The judge also sealed records filed in connection with the hearing, which stems from Baldwin’s voice-mail tirade berating his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, as a “thoughtless little pig.” The girl lives with Basinger.
The recording was broadcast around the world last week after it was posted on the celebrity Web site TMZ.com, sparking a storm of public outrage and media attention.
“I recognize there is significant media interest in this matter,” Nelson said. “(But) it’s not in the best interests of the child for this to be further broadcast by the media.”
Nelson suspended Baldwin’s visitation rights after listening to the tape two weeks ago. She was expected to decide after Friday’s hearing whether to restore Baldwin’s visitation or impose new restrictions on his contact with the child.
Shouting in a rambling, angry voice mail, Baldwin said he was furious at not being able to reach his daughter for a prearranged telephone call and threatened to fly to Los Angeles from New York to “straighten your ass out.”
Last Friday, a contrite, emotional Baldwin appeared on national television to publicly apologize and to say that he anger at his ex-wife had been misdirected at his daughter.
Baldwin, who stars on the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” as an egotistical TV executive, has repeatedly accused his ex-wife of deliberately undermining his relationship with their daughter and describes himself as a victim of “parental alienation.”
Outside the courthouse on Friday, about two dozen men, many of them divorced, noncustodial fathers, staged a demonstration in support of Baldwin, carrying signs with such slogans as “Parental alienation is child abuse” and “Los Angeles County abuses fathers.”
A separate hearing has been set for June 5 on how the voice-mail tape was released. Baldwin’s lawyer has said Basinger and her lawyer leaked the recording in violation of a court order sealing it and that they should be held in contempt.