The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Watch Paul cook, literally
Something kind of incredible happened on Billions this week. Let me set the scene for you. Chuck Rhoades, played by the freshly clean-shaven Paul Giamatti, had Mike Prince, played by Corey Stoll, over to his house to plot and scheme against Bobby Axelrod. This, by itself, is nothing new for Billions. Like half of the scenes in the entire show involve two characters teaming up to try to destroy a third character. It’s a blast. There’s not a single truly likable character on the show. I love it very much.
But back to this scene. The two of them are discussing plans that involve the medical marijuana business and how they can enrich themselves while leaving Bobby in a pickle. And while they are discussing these plans, they are smoking a joint on a little couch near an open window. It’s worth pointing out here, just to be comprehensive about it all, that Chuck Rhoades is currently the Attorney General of New York.
Anyway, they burn one and then Chuck’s daughter shows up and says she’s hungry and then Chuck goes into the kitchen to make eggs for everyone.
And he really makes them eggs.
Like, there’s a whole wordless four-minute single-shot of Paul Giamatti cooking eggs. Here’s a screenshot to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with.
It was deeply fascinating in a way I’m having trouble putting into words. He’s just there cracking eggs, and whisking them up, and pouring them into a pan and seasoning them. I kept waiting for something else to happen. I kept waiting for the fire alarm to go off or for Bobby Axelrod to show up and catch them mid-scheme or for the FBI to raid the premises because two other characters got together off-screen to try to ruin one or both of them. But, nope. Just Paul Giamatti cooking eggs.
And not just cooking eggs, either. He’s flipping them, too.
Paul Giamatti is making an omelette.
Look at Paul.
LOOK AT PAUL.
Because I believe in the principles of sound journalism and also because I’m a curious freak who gets excited, I reached out to Billions showrunner Brian Koppelman to ask if Paul Giamatti nailed the egg flip on the first take, or if they had to shoot the whole thing over a few times. His response: they shot the scene twice to be sure they got it, but the flip in that GIF was the first take. I never had a doubt. Somehow, without even thinking of it until this week, I knew Paul Giamatti could flip eggs like a champion. It’s nice to be validated.
It all gets better, believe it or not. The scene is actually an homage to a similar piece of business from a movie called Big Night, an indie film about the restaurant business that was made by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. Which means we now have Tucci and Giamatti involved in this, together but separate, held together like whipped and heated egg yolks. This is all just lovely. Here, watch this scene to get the full experience.
The point here is twofold. The first and most important thing is that it’s pretty neat that Billions is out here shouting out 25-year-old indie movies made by Stanley Tucci in the middle of an episode about billionaires trying to ruin each other using weed.
The second thing — and I changed my mind, this is the more important one — is that I would absolutely watch a cooking show where Paul Giamatti gets high and makes things suggested by an audience. We already have a cooking show with Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart. This feels like the next logical step.
Think about it.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — It’s the end of a glorious era
If you spend any amount of time online in the correct way, you have probably seen this video already, but let’s hit the background anyway because it’s fun. Every year for the last five years, writer and comedian Demi Adejuyigbe has put out a video on September 21 where he dances to the song “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s delightful in the most literal sense of the word, in that it is impossible not to be filled with delight as you watch them. Just pure and unfiltered joy from beginning to end. One of the best things on the internet, ever, made even better by the thing where these videos have now raised like a million dollars for various charities. It’s cool.
It’s even cooler when you watch that video up there — with all of its elaborate Grease shoutouts and choreographed dance numbers and what appears to be actual CGI — and then turn right around and watch the original one from 2016 where he’s just dancing in a homemade t-shirt.
How far we’ve come, you know? It kind of dulls the impact of this year’s being the last one. A heck of a ride.
But that’s not the point. Or at least not the entire point. The details here are what’s important. Details like the thing where the latest video was shot at the funhouse California estate of the woman who co-wrote the song, the late Allee Willis. And the thing where the estate is called Willis Wonderland. And the thing where Allee Willis ruled. Look at this paragraph from her obituary at Vulture.
Willis won a Grammy in 1986 for the Beverly Hills Cop score. She won her second Grammy in 2016 for Best Musical Theatre Album for The Color Purple, which had earned her a Tony nomination during its original run ten years prior. She was nominated in 1995 for writing the Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There for You.” In 2018, Willis was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. On her website, Willis wrote that the Friends theme was a “real struggle to compose” because she was “used to writing lyrics that are funkier and not so plain sounding.”
And look at this paragraph from later in the same obituary.
In 2015, Willis spoke out against Donald Trump using her song “You’re the Best” from The Karate Kid at his campaign rallies, telling the New York Daily News, that “this guy’s mouth would get us into a nuclear war in three seconds,” but conceding that the song fit him: “”It’s all about bravado and fighting. And Trump is the giant who comes and stomps on the village. I can see why he picked it.”
That is a full life right there, buddy. She wrote the theme songs to just about everything in the 1980s and 1990s that had a popular theme song, and she called out people she hated for using them in ways that secretly own them, and she co-wrote freaking “September.” I did not know any of this until a reader named Anne Marie alerted me all to it this week after the new video came out.
So let’s go ahead and give Demi credit for that one, too, causing all of us to take a second and admire a cool lady’s legacy. Nothing bad here anywhere. Now we need someone else to pick up the torch and start making cool stuff to fill the void the videos are leaving. Maybe it can be you.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — I need to see Roy Kent cuss at a Muppet
Well well well, speaking of awesome writers and comedians doing sick musical things to raise money for charity, here’s Brett Goldstein — Roy Kent from Ted Lasso — doing a six-minute rendition of The Muppet Christmas Carol a few years ago at a charity event. It is all, to put a very fine point on it, some Extremely Brian Stuff.
My colleague and fellow Muppet aficionado Josh Kurp researched it all this week and came up with more gold. Look at Brett.
“So. For Parkinson’s UK, Amusical made my Muppets dream come true at their excellent gig. I wasn’t going to post this video, but then I thought, if you watch it and like it, please feel free to donate to Parkinson’s UK as they do excellent work,” the YouTube video description reads. “As for the wonderful night, I have to thank the amazing Dave Cribb for putting the music together, Kiri McLean and Jayde Adams for being hilarious and kicking the roof off and to the house band for keeping up with all sorts of mixed signals, and to Hannah Martin for making sure my sister Tara Goldstein didn’t hurt anybody and to the audience for letting me get away with it. So here it is. The Muppet Christmas Carol in 6 minutes. Thank you very much. Please give generously and Merry Christmas.”
There are, as far as I can tell, three major takeaways here:
- We should cast Brett Goldstein in Muppet movie as soon as possible, or, even better, let him write and star in his own
- While I am generally against unnecessary remakes of perfect movies, I would bend on this stance if we were to go about putting together a new Great Muppet Caper with Goldstein in the Charles Grodin role
- Whatever happens next, whether it’s one of these two options or a third one I’m not seeing yet, I need to watch him swear at a Muppet — any Muppet — as soon as possible
Give me an R-rated Muppet movie. Give me one crystal-clear f-word out of the mouth of the Swedish Chef. These are my demands.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — A note about the Bond business
After approximately 11 different halts and delays over the past year, the next James Bond movie is finally, really, allegedly coming out in theaters next month. It’s called No Time To Die and it’s directed by Cary Fukunaga and it had its script punched up by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and it reunites Knives Out co-stars Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig, who is back for one last go-round in the lead role. I’m looking forward to it. I like all of those things. And I like the James Bond movies. I’m genuinely excited about it all.
There’s also, because this is how we do things, a press tour taking place. And during the press tour, because this is also how we do things, Daniel Craig was asked if he thinks the next Bond should be a woman. And when he was asked that question, he said this.
The actor spoke to Radio Times print magazine, weighing in with his own thoughts on a female 007 following in his footsteps and getting behind the wheel of the Aston Martin. And while Craig does not think this particular role should be given to a woman, he does think that women and people of colour should be offered roles of this calibre.
“The answer to that is very simple,” he said. “There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
Lots of outlets that like to spin things salaciously ran with this quote as “Daniel Craig says the next James Bond should not be a woman,” which is true in the most technical hair-splitty way you can imagine, but misleading as all heck. We don’t do nuance online very well. Maybe we will one day. I doubt it. If we ever do, situations like this will probably fall into one of my beloved Two Things Can Be True situations.
The first true thing is that he’s right. It would be better if we could create new roles for new people instead of trying to hammer them into already existing intellectual property, both because that would be cool and because that would avoid all the yelling from the kinds of people who like to yell things like “THIS IS WOKENESS RUN AMOK,” and no one needs to hear any more yelling from those people.
The second true thing is that it’s hard to launch a new big fancy franchise, especially now when studios are running around strip-mining any comic book or old television show they can acquire the rights to. It would be great if it were easier. The best-case scenario is probably introducing new characters into existing stuff like this and then spinning those characters off into new and cool separate stuff. But even then, it’s not perfect. Nothing is, really. We’re all just doing the best we can, man. Let’s cut each other some slack.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Meanwhile, on 9-1-1…
It brings me great pleasure to report to you that 9-1-1 returned this week with what appears to be the first chapter in a multi-episode arc. This is good news because 9-1-1 is a freaking wild show. Anything can happen in its universe. A woman once got her nose lopped off by a mistletoe-carrying drone. A man got sucked into a jet engine. Someone did while proposing marriage on an escalator. It’s a good time.
Anyway, the following things happened already in the season premiere:
- Hackers have taken over all of the electronics in Southern California as part of a massive ransomware attack
- A woman’s GPS told her to turn left and she turned left straight into a damn lake
- Zoo animals are running loose in the streets
Perfect, all of it, in all the chaos-riddled ways you can dream up. And it led to the thing in the screencap up there where Angela Bassett called it all insanity. Which is true. And accurate. But you really need to hear her delivery on that line to grasp the seriousness of the situation.
It’s a good show. I’m glad it’s back. I support any show that releases zoo animals into the streets of a metropolitan area, especially when Angela Bassett is the one who has to deal with it. It’s a shame there aren’t more of them.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at [email protected] (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
Do you ever find yourself thinking about the fact that Succession and The Righteous Gemstones aired back-to-back on Sunday nights in 2019? I remembered it recently and actually had to go look it up to confirm it wasn’t just my brain playing a trick on me. It really happened. We rolled straight from the adventures of Cousin Greg to the adventures of Baby Billy. I do not think any of us realized how blessed we were at the time. I have two questions about all of this: One, do you think there’s an argument to be made that this was the best one-two scheduling punch in history? Two, how much money would you pay for a season of Succession with Danny McBride and Walton Goggins as new business rivals of the Roy family?
This is a great email, Luis. I had not actually thought about this. I’m glad I am thinking about it now. And I will do my best to answer your questions.
First, the one about this being the best scheduling one-two in history: I don’t know. There was probably a Sopranos–Curb combo in there somewhere that gives this a run, and it’s something I was fully prepared to look up, but then I looked up this combo in more detail and realized that the episode where Baby Billy sang “Misbehavin’” aired the same night as the episode of Succession titled “Argestes,” which is notable for being the episode where my sweet boy Cousin Greg said this.
I’m not doing any more research. I can spoil something beautiful at this point. Let’s move on to the second question.
I would pay $50 for this. Cash. Right now. I’ll go to the ATM right after I finish typing this sentence. I’m not kidding. HBO, if you’re reading this, listen to Luis. He’s smart.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
I am switching things up a bit here. I am not posting a fun/funny news story in blockquotes with childish observations peppered between. What I am posting instead is an off-season workout hype video of Sixers reserve sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz. I am doing it in part because basketball is returning soon and I need good news about my beloved Philadelphia 76ers, and in part because this is the best video I’ve ever seen. Not the best NBA workout hype video. The best video, full-stop.
Watch this video.
At the 0:40 mark, he dunks a basketball through a hoop that is ablaze with CGI flames.
This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
It’s got better production value than Space Jam 2.
I feel like I could crash through a brick wall.
Watch this video.