We all use bad judgment from time to time. We regret it and move on. If you are a celebrity and demonstrate bad judgment, it's not that simple. There are two great examples in the news this week. First, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is caught on camera with bong in hand. He wisely issued a statement calling his actions a case of bad judgment and blaming his youth. Not so fast. This guy is role model for young people everywhere and four years ago he was apologizing for drinking and driving. He may need to do some real soul-searching. But he also needs to do something else. I would advise him to do a sit-down interview with a serious journalist. The public is very forgiving when a sincere apology is offered. Phelps is a very likeable guy but he has more explaining to do. His legal advisors may not want him to flat out admit smoking pot. The written statement appears to have been carefully crafted. Regardless of the words, if it's from the heart, it should go along way if Phelps doesn't hit any more bumps.
Now on to actor Christian Bale. The audio of his profanity-laced rant at a co-worker has found its way into main stream media, thanks to the folks at TMZ.com. Reading the transcript is one thing, but hearing this is quite another. Talk about a hostile work environment. I have worked with many creative people, including high-salaried talent, over the years, but thankfully I have never witnessed anything like this. Of course it's bad judgment, but it is so much more. Bale's image was somewhat bruised months ago after reports surfaced about alleged abusive behavior toward his mother. He was not charged and there was speculation a greedy family may have exaggerated events. Now comes this explosive audiotape. Even if you assume Bale was completely in the right concerning the disruption by the DP, should anyone address a co-worker this way? I think the majority of movie goers would say, of course not. And they very well may speak with their wallets and avoid Bale's films. People jumped all over Tom Cruise for jumping on Oprah's coach. Tom did some great damage control. Bale should take a lesson. He may have made up with his co-worker some time ago, but his fans are just now hearing the recording. This may not terminate his career but it may give producers pause. A media interview is a good idea only if Bale can control his emotions. Alec Baldwin knows a thing or two about ranting on tape. He sat down with the women of The View and for my money, did a good job of explaining his side of the story. He's as popular as ever. Maybe Bale's first call should be to Baldwin.