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Alec Baldwin faces manslaughter charges for deadly shooting on movie set


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Amna Nawaz: Actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set in 2021. The film's weapons specialist and assistant director are also being charged.

Stephanie Sy has more.

Stephanie Sy: Amna, the Santa Fe district attorney said there was -- quote -- "a criminal disregard for safety" that led to the death of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

She explained the decision to file charges on CNN.

Mary Carmack-Altwies, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney: This was a really fast and loose set, and that nobody was doing their job.

There were three people that, if they had done their job that day, this tragedy wouldn't have happened. And that's David Halls, Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Alec Baldwin. If they had just done their basic duties, this -- we wouldn't be standing here.

Stephanie Sy: Halls agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Both Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In a statement, Baldwin's attorney said: "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him that guns did not have live rounds."

Elizabeth Wagmeister is chief correspondent for "Variety," and joins us with more.

Elizabeth, thanks for joining us.

Were you surprised by the announcement of these charges?

Elizabeth Wagmeister, "Variety": I think this is clearly a surprising announcement, because you have an A-list actor who is being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

That said, that is what happened. A woman died on the set, and Alec Baldwin was the one who did fire the gun. So, if he had not fired the gun -- of course, there's a lot of steps that should have been taken before then -- had that gun not been fired, then Halyna Hutchins would still be alive.

Stephanie Sy: The husband of Halyna Hutchins reacted today, and his lawyer said in a statement that it is -- quote -- "a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law." He added that the family fully supports the charges.

Are you hearing similar reactions in the film industry, or the opposite?

Elizabeth Wagmeister: What I think is interesting about that statement from the family is, remember that there was a settlement, a civil settlement a few months ago. So that was also surprising to me.

But, in the film industry, what I'm hearing is a lot of shock. People seem to be very surprised that Alec Baldwin was hit with these charges. People are wondering, will he really go to jail? Of course, these charges are tied to a fair amount of possible years behind bars. But I do think that one common thread that I am hearing in the entertainment industry is, this was a horrible mistake.

Stephanie Sy: And if he is convicted on the one count of involuntary manslaughter, it would carry 18 months.

But I do want to ask you about the significance for the wider film industry and for set safety standards. Was this tragedy an outlier, Elizabeth, or is having a better control over stunt guns on said an issue that Hollywood needs to address?

Elizabeth Wagmeister: This absolutely needs to be addressed.

And in the wake of the tragedy on the set of "Rust," there has been a large outcry for more protocol and more safety to ensure that this never, ever happens again. But I have to tell you, the outcry has not matched the -- what's actually being enacted on these sets.

There are not new laws that we have seen go into place. There's nothing that says there cannot be a real gun and real ammo on a set. So there's a big call for action, but we haven't seen much yet. But I do expect that we will see a lot more safety protocols being put in place on any set that is using firearms.

And the question really remains, why do we need to have real firearms in movies? We're in a world in which James Cameron can make actors into blue creatures. You clearly can do anything through CGI. And, yes, of course, it's more expensive in postproduction to use CGI, but it can be done. And safety needs to be paramount.

Stephanie Sy: Yes, I think a lot of us had that same question when this tragedy happened.

Elizabeth Wagmeister, senior correspondent for "Variety," thank you.

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