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Will viralness of tirade harm Christian Bale's career?

Audio recording spreading around the Web of actor screaming profanities at member of film crew may not endear him to fans.

Christian Bale is about to learn the power of the Internet.

Bale, who starred as Batman in The Dark Knight and in the western 3:10 to Yuma, apparently suffered a complete meltdown last summer on the set of Terminator Salvation, screaming profanities at the picture's director of photography.

An audio recording of the tirade has gone viral and is rapidly spreading on the Web. According to reports, it is Bale's voice lashing out at the DP for walking into his line of sight during filming. (Warning, the tirade is profanity-filled and the audio is very clear--use headphones).

"I want you off the (expletive) set, you (expletive)," Bale says. "Think for one (expletive) second. What the (expletive) are you doing? Are you a professional or not?"

At one point, Bale threatens the man, whose job it is to make Bale look good, with violence.

Bale, who was once accused of assaulting his mother and sister, sounds like he needs a vacation. If this thing plays out like it has with other stars, he may get one. Film and TV fans want to believe that their screen gods are, well, nice people. If that illusion is shattered, then they often don't want to pay to see that actor's movies or shows. (I remember a time when all it took to wreck an actor's career was booze and drugs).

A clip of David O. Russell, director of Three Kings, shouting the F-word at actress Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees was a hot Internet item for a while and Russell hasn't directed since. Michael Richards, a former cast member of the TV series Seinfeld hasn't worked much since his 2006 comedy performance in Los Angeles saw Richards shower racial epithets at a group of hecklers. The scene was videotaped and spread wildly across the Web.

The same thing happened to George Allen, the former U.S. Senator from Virginia. On videotape, he called an Indian-American a "macaca," and pundits speculate that the incident not only cost Allen his Senate seat but also derailed any presidential hopes.

It should be noted that the cases of Richards and Allen involved racial epithets and Bale's did not.

Someone who has survived a viral beat down is Alec Baldwin. An audio recording of Baldwin calling his daughter a "pig" and other names sent the actor and his handlers into spin control. Baldwin rebounded in his role as the bumbling entertainment executive on the hit show 30 Rock.

Baldwin could moonlight these days by offering public relations advice to fallen actors.