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August 20, 2015

Hey, Cabbie!

For enterprising producers, the back of a cab can be a cozy — or provocative — location.

Libby Slate

A couple — told only that they’ll be appearing in a TV show about relationships — enters a New York cab, where they find actor Alec Baldwin.

But he’s not just a fellow passenger: “I’m an internationally renowned couples’ therapist,” he announces. “Licensed in the Philippines.”

Well, maybe not. But Baldwin is the co-creator and producer (with Mallory Schwartz) of the comedy web series Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride, in which he guides romantic duos — straight, gay, young, old — through open discussions about their relationships.

“I’ve always wanted to help people avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made,” he informs two participants.

Produced by Above Average, the online arm of Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video (which produced Baldwin’s NBC series 30 Rock), the series premiered on YouTube last November; the subscription platform Vessel has since secured the rights.

Love Ride is just the latest in a series of shows featuring New York cabs.

NBC aired a French-American police comedy, Taxi Brooklyn, during summer 2014, while HBO’s Taxicab Confessions (1995–2006) drove the cab concept into unscripted territory with its sometimes-graphic hidden-camera work. Discovery Channel’s 2005–12 game show Ca$h Cab begat spinoff Ca$h Cab After Dark, as well as Ca$h Cab: Chicago.

Besides hosting Love Ride, Baldwin is an involved producer, says Ashley Bearden, head of production at Above Average; he’s even participated in editing from far-flung film locations.

“Alec’s big thing is, this is supposed to be fun and funny,” she says. “We don’t want to end up with couples having horrible fights.”

After its first 12 outings, Love Ride switched to a roomier town car, and also filmed some episodes in Pittsburgh. “Everybody in Pittsburgh knew who Alec was when they got in the car,” Bearden says. “Some people in New York didn’t. That almost made it funnier.”

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