It's safe to say that the public perception of Robert Blake has shifted in the last decade, away from the child actor who rose from starring in Little Rascals shorts to a role in 1967's Oscar-nominated In Cold Blood to his Emmy-winning turn on TV's Baretta, and over to "that crazy guy who probably murdered his wife." And so, Blake—who has a memoir to peddle—did what any person making the case for his wrongful ostracizing would do: He donned his best sleeveless T-shirt and cowboy hat and bitched out Piers Morgan (and pretty much the whole world) on CNN last night, making for an instant classic in the genre of uncomfortable celebrity interviews. You probably should have watched it.
Making frequent reference to the fact that his mother "tried to abort me with coat hangers twice," Blake's overarching theme for recounting his version of his life story was one of total paranoia—that even before he was born, everyone has always been out to get him. Naturally, that paranoia hit its apex when Morgan dared to bring up the 2001 murder of Blake's second wife, Bonnie Bakley, a line of questioning that Blake deemed "boring" and irrelevant—that is, when he wasn't yelling at Morgan for accusing him of being a liar, or listening to "the guy in your ear" instead of doing his research, or looking "silly" for asking about anything besides, say, what Alfalfa was really like, and other pre-approved topics of conversation from Blake's book. "You opened that door, Charlie Potatoes," Blake said at one point, apparently quoting from The Defiant Ones by way of demonstrating how comparatively rational he was being.
Blake also directed plenty of vitriol toward the legal system that had imprisoned him for Bakley's murder before he was eventually acquitted, only to be found guilty in a 2006 civil suit. "Those rotten bastard cops that ripped my guts out and left me beside the road to die—I'll get to you son of a bitches later, but don't think you're going to get off the hook," Blake said near the top of the interview, pointing accusingly into the camera. "I was supposed to die in that cell wasn't I, you bastards? Well, I didn't die. And you didn't get your book deals, you mothers. I wrote a book about you. So you'll have to go out and rip some other celebrity until he's dead then you can write a book about him."
At various other points, Blake blamed the media's pre-9/11 need for "something to tear up and rip up and eat" for his entire ordeal, accused his slain wife of being a con artist who had "15 I.D. cards" and suggested she'd "burned" a lot of people who found her two weeks after they'd married, and—just in case you thought you were off the hook—even thrust an angry finger in your face. "People cast aspersions on everybody, because people in America are deliriously unhappy right now," Blake said, later declaring, "The nuts that you find on the Internet, I don't give a shit what they say to me. I don't really care what they think about me."
In fact, the only person whose opinions Blake does seem to care about is Harvey Weinstein: Blake openly appealed to Weinstein—and Kevin Costner, and even Donald Duck—as people he planned to go to "with a package that they can't refuse" to help him end his career by making "the best film I ever made in my life," proclaiming the book and this interview as his new "calling card" for getting back into the business. Provided Blake can deflate those ambitions somewhat to, say, landing a cameo in Robert Rodriguez's next Machete movie, he may have just nailed it last night.
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