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 will vary, as will 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 — Where you sittin’?
I saw movies in the theater the last two weekends, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood two weeks ago and Hobbs & Shaw last week. For the first one, I sat in the front row. For the second, I sat all the way in the back. My reasons for doing this had less to do with personal preference than lack of options (I use a wheelchair and that’s where the accessible seats were in the respective theaters), but the two seating extremes provided two different experiences and got me thinking: what’s the best seat in a movie theater?
Most of it boils down to personal preference, I guess. If given the choice, I’d probably sit in the middle of the back row every time. I’m a back row guy, in general. I sat in the back of the classroom in school, too. I like having the whole room in front of me. It makes me feel like a spy, scanning the area for threats and knowing no one can sneak up on me. Plus, a lot of times, the back row is mostly empty and near the exit. That’s important. Crowds are bad. Leave me alone.
I will admit, though, that the closer seats provide a more immersive experience. There’s nothing between you and the screen to distract you. Nobody walking in front of you to go to the bathroom during the movie, no phone screens lighting up and catching the corner of your eye. And it’s all a little more manageable now that most theaters keep the front row a little further back than they used to. Did you ever get caught in the dead front of an older theater? That was awful. You’d just crane your head back like a Pez dispenser and hope the movie ended before all the muscles in your neck seized up. They should have sold ibuprofen and heating pads at the concession stand. Yes, I’m very young and cool.
(Related: You know how newer theaters with stadium seating sometimes have three or four rows in a little lowered section in front of the front row? What the hell is up with those seats? Have you ever in your entire life seen anyone sit there? I suppose they exist for emergency spillover when a movie is sold out but, even then, I think I would rather just skip the movie than sit directly under the screen. I don’t even know how I’d react if I saw someone sitting there in a theater with other empty seats. I’d be so suspicious. Another point in favor of sitting in the back. Get a bird’s eye of that creep.)
I asked a few other members of the Uproxx staff what their favorite seat in a movie theater is, just to be journalistic about the whole thing. Brett Michael Dykes, our EIC, likes to sit up front, mainly because he’s very tall and can spread his legs out. Kimberly Ricci says she likes middle row, middle seat, but only if it’s one of those theaters with an open row in front to separate sections. Mike Ryan said, “On an aisle away from as many human beings as possible,” which I can dig for the easy exit angle. And Vince Mancini said, “I like to put my feet up on the rail but being far from other people takes precedence over other considerations.”
I suppose the takeaway away here — between me in the back row and my colleagues sitting off by themselves near an exit — is that where you sit matters less than what’s around you. I think I’d still sit in the back in an empty theater, though. You’re not getting the drop on me. Not this time, buddy.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Woody and Nic, together at last (kind of)
This Wednesday was my birthday, which was strange because my birthday is technically in March. But I don’t know how else to explain the world gifting me an interview with Nicolas Cage and a profile of Woody Harrelson before noon on the same day so, like, it must have been my birthday. Maybe I’ve been wrong about it my entire life. It’s very unsettling, in a way. I feel like I’ve been lied to. It would bother me more if I weren’t about to drop two mindblowing blockquotes on you. You won’t even believe it.
Cage first. David Marchese of The New York Times — on the shortlist of greatest living interviewers — sat down with the star of Face/Off and hundreds of other movies for an interview that touched on everything. Everything. Stolen dinosaur skulls, karaoke, financial troubles, his mausoleum in New Orleans, his real and actual search for the real and actual Holy Grail, everything. You must read it if you haven’t.
Here’s my favorite part. It’s so perfectly Cage.
I did have two king cobras, and they were not happy. They would try to hypnotize me by showing me their backs, and then they’d lunge at me. After I told that story on “Letterman,” the neighborhood wasn’t too pleased that I had cobras, so I had them re-homed in a zoo. The cat — a friend of mine gave me this bag of mushrooms, and my cat would go in my refrigerator and grab it, almost like he knew what it was. He loved it. Then I started going, “I guess I’ll do it.” It was a peaceful and beautiful experience. But I subsequently threw them out.
I could ask questions about this for hours (HOW DID THE CAT OPEN THE REFRIGERATOR?), but why? Why nitpick perfection? Let’s just let that exist as-is in the world and move along. It’s too beautiful to ruin.
And when we move along, we can move along to this: a truly delightful profile of Woody Harrelson in Esquire. It’s exactly what you want it to be. You must read this, too. I could highlight ten different parts of it but let’s go with this.
“See, everybody thinks of Willie as a model of progressive thinking and virtue, and he is, but he’s also got an evil side. Eee-vil. Now, Willie never felt too good about me quitting. And he kept trying to get me to not quit. We’d be playing poker and he’d pass me a vape pen, and I’d say, ‘Willie, man, I don’t do that anymore.’ And he’d act surprised, like it was news to him—every time, just as surprised as he could be. Then we were in Maui, and you know the whole reason I’m in Maui in the first place is Willie. Yeah, I went and saw one of his shows a number of years ago. I wanted to meet him. So afterward, I went to his bus and knocked on the door, and the door opened, and smoke was billowing out, and I look through the haze and I see this fellow with long hair holding a big old fatty, and he says, ‘Let’s burn one.’ And I know right away that he’s going to be a friend for life. He told me he had a place in Maui and to come on out, and that’s how I just sort of ended up there. Anyway, Willie passed me the pen after I’d won this huge pot. I was in a celebrating mood, so I snatched the pen from him and took a long draw. And Willie smiled at me and said, ‘Welcome home, son.’ ”
How much would you pay for a single hour-long podcast where Woody Harrelson and Nic Cage talk to each other and tell stories? I’ll go as high as $10. I’ll go up to $25 if they get McConaughey and Tracy Morgan in there, too. Standing offer.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Sinbad butt-dialed Pam Grier
Sinbad dialed me. I called him back. He had not dialed, he said It was his butt. Okay, well put your butt on the phone. He said, it was a real booty call! Shut up…!
— Pam Grier Ph.D (@PamGrier) August 7, 2019
Three things here.
1. Imagine how horrified you’d be if you butt-dialed Pam Grier. If you had Pam Grier’s phone number — if you were that blessed in life — and you butt-dialed her like she was a common acquaintance. I’d never recover. I’d probably just smash my phone and go live in a hut until the shame passed. I’m thinking 10-15 years would do it.
2. Imagine getting butt-dialed by Sinbad. Your phone rings and you see “Sinbad” pop up on the caller ID — or, if you don’t have his number saved, “maybe: Sinbad,” which is even better — and you’re like, “I wonder what Sinbad wants,” but when you pick up all you hear is what appears to be a garbled rendition of “Africa” by Toto that he’s singing in his car because he leaned over in his seat and called you from his back pocket.
3. More stories should start with “Sinbad dialed me.”
What a world, you know?
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Oh, we are getting hyped about Impeachment
The next season of American Crime Story will be titled Impeachment and will focus on the Clinton-Lewinsky saga of the 1990s. This is cool and good news because that is some fertile soil to plant crops in. It’s got everything: sex, secretly recorded phone calls, creeps, political intrigue. It’s also a great time for it because we’re all, rightfully, shifting our perspective on the whole thing and realizing just how terrible we were to Monica Lewinsky. Like, as a society. The season about the O.J. Simpson trial is remembered mainly for Travolta’s scenery-gorging — see above, never forget — but don’t forget the episode that humanized Marcia Clark, too. There’s work to be done here and it looks like Ryan Murphy and his team are intent on doing it.
Last year Murphy recalled running into Lewinsky at a Hollywood party and telling her: “Nobody should tell your story but you, and it’s kind of gross if they do. If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer, and you should make all the goddamn money.”
So that’s very cool. As is Monica Lewinsky’s sense of humor about the whole thing. For example.
It takes a really strong person to go through all of that and come out on the other side like this. I’m already excited for the show. And for her to get a big fat check. Let’s do it.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — What the hell did Mr. Wonderful have for breakfast that cost $200
Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary did an interview with CNBC this week and, while certainly not up to the level of Cage and Harrelson (I mean, come on), it did feature a real head-scratcher of a claim.
“Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary may give out smart saving and investment advice, but he admits he sets a “bad example” when it comes to his food budget.
“I’m on the road all week, five days a week. I’m spending about $1,000 a day on food,” or $5,000 a week, O’Leary tells CNBC Make It.
So, first of all, let’s go ahead and call hooey on this just because the math is insane and because Kevin O’Leary seems like the kind of guy who might inflate figures like this for an interview. But whatever. Fine. It’s fine. Maybe he’s eating at five-star restaurants every night with more than one guest. It’s conceivable. Fine. But this is not.
“For example, today’s breakfast cost me about $200,” O’Leary told CNBC Make It in July in New York City. “It was a very important meeting with somebody I have to do business with.”
What in the world are you ordering at breakfast that runs a $200 tab for two people? Jesus Christ. It’s even worse because I can guarantee that this meal wasn’t better than a greasy omelette and home fries from any diner in America. Total cost with tip: $14. I’m mad. I’m legitimately mad now. If you spend $200 on breakfast, someone should be allowed to take your money away. They kind of are already. Two hundred dollars of it.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Will Danny Trejo be showing up in tomorrow's column? I want an episode of 911 where the crew shows up at various incidents to find Danny Trejo has thing already well in hand.
— gishgali (@gishgali) August 8, 2019
This is a great tweet because it allows me to launch into the story about Danny Trejo saving a child and because it includes a better idea than I had come up with on my own. Makes my job very easy. More tweets like this, please.
We pick up our story in Los Angeles, where a car has flipped over after an accident.
Trejo crawled into the overturned wreckage from one side, he recalled, but he couldn’t unbuckle the child’s car seat from that angle.
The other bystander, a young woman, crawled in from the other side of the overturned vehicle and was able to undo the buckle. Trejo was then able to get the baby out of the car seat and pulled safely from the wreckage.
I need you to close your eyes for a second. Clear your mind. Now, put yourself in this car. Picture the fear and shock of the situation. Let it wash over you. In an overturned car, lights blinking and dings dinging, not entirely sure if you’re okay. And then picture a face appearing in your window, upside-down. The face is saying words. The face is here to help. The face is…
Is… that Danny Trejo?
He said he works with special-needs children so he knew how to keep the little boy calm.
“He was panicked. I said OK, we have to use our superpowers. So he screamed ‘superpowers’ and we started yelling ‘superpowers,” Trejo said. “I said do this, with the muscles. He said ‘muscles.'”
This story rules so hard
AND NOW, THE NEWS
The 75 bison who broke free from an upstate farm last week are slowly making their way back home. Very slowly.
The majority of them have ambled within a mile of their Otsego County farm by now, but they aren’t in any rush to make the additional trip home, located about 45 miles west of Albany, owner Brian Grubb said Friday morning.
There are very few things I love in this world more than animals on the loose, so when I saw that 75 bison had broken free in update New Y-… hold on.
That farmer’s name is my name. The owner of the loose bison has the same name as me. This… this is strange. Even stranger than a legendary figure in the professional wakeskating world having my name and about as strange as a University of Miami biologist with my name losing his job over a plant that has psychoactive properties. This is the best reason to Google yourself, for the record. Not to see what is out there about you, to see what the other people with your name are doing with it.
“They are kind of liking it where they are at,” he said. “That’s the thing about this time of year. The grass is so good. There is beautiful grass everywhere.”
So the buffalo are simply enjoying the grazing and moving slowly.
“They are in no rush. They are on bison time,” Grubb said.
“They are on bison time.”
This guy is definitely the coolest Brian Grubb this week.