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 — My sweet boy, the big boat
There is a big boat stuck in the Suez Canal. The boat is named Ever Given and it is owned by a company called Evergreen and it is just stuck there, wedged across the canal, holding up international commerce as hundreds of people attempt to unstuck it and move it forward again. Those are the facts at their most basic. This is also a fact: I love the big stuck boat and I hope it stays there as long as it wants. We’ve all had a tough go of it lately. Build a new canal if you’re in such a rush. Leave my large floating son alone.
But the main thing I’ve taken away from the situation is that I have watched too many movies on basic cable on weekend afternoons, to the degree that I can’t stop picturing every update to this story as generic scenes from cookie-cutter entries in the “let’s save this thing and/or the world” genre. Think like Armageddon but with a huge stuck boat instead of an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Think about this whole thing for five seconds and tell me you can’t picture Bruce Willis in a hard hat. I suppose examples will help. Let’s start with a few paragraphs from the New York Times article about the situation.
The ship’s manager has said in a statement that a preliminary investigation found that the vessel grounded because of strong winds, not because of mechanical or engine failure. The company said that all 25 crew members, who the ship’s owner said were all Indian citizens, were safe and that there were no reports of injuries, pollution or cargo damage.
Two scenes jump to mind here, right away:
- The one where the ship captain is trying to steer the boat through a storm and insisting he can do it over the objections of his crew, many of whom are looking at printouts or weather maps and saying things like “these winds are pretty strong, sir” as he brushes them off and barrels ahead
- The scene where someone in the Suez Canal control room — I’m going to go ahead and assume this exists — sees like a radar of the ship starting to get stuck and says, “Uh… sir… you better come look at this…” and then his boss comes and looks at the screen and is like “Mother of God”
This is Act One. Moving on.
Eight large tugboats were attempting to push and drag the ship from its unintended berth, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement on Thursday, but at about 1,300 feet long — roughly equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building — and weighing around 200,000 metric tons, dislodging the Ever Given is proving challenging.
An attempt to extract the ship at around 8 a.m. on Thursday did not succeed, forcing salvagers to try again later in the day, the ship’s technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said in a statement on Thursday. The company said that a specialized suction dredger had arrived to help dig the ship out.
Okay, this is the beginning of Act Two, maybe the end of Act One, where the people in charge think there might be a simple solution that can solve the problem without too much hassle or expense. It helps to get a picture of specific actors in the roles. Paul Giamatti is a good choice for a frazzled scientist who has lots of data about the soil. Jeremy Irons or maybe Famke Janssen as the icy CEO who just wants it fixed. For some reason, I see a bearded Zac Efron on the tugboat. I can be talked out of any of these, probably, but the last one will be tough. I saw Zac’s nature show. The man could absolutely play a handsome tugboat captain. He would love it.
But this is where it gets good. This is where we introduce the elite salvage team.
An elite team is set to tackle the monumental challenge of freeing the massive container vessel that’s blocking the Suez Canal, as a backlog of ships continued to build up for a third day in what is arguably the world’s most important waterway.
If you’re not immediately picturing a) Jason Statham, and b) someone showing up in a helicopter and begging him to take the job, and c) some version of the “because you’re the best there ever was, that’s why” conversation… I don’t know what I can do for you. Why are you even reading this column? Go read a book or something.
And yes, those of you who saw The Meg, a movie in which Jason Statham battles a monstrous prehistoric shark, might recognize this exact scene from that movie, right down to the reference to diving.
That’s how you know I’m right. But let’s learn more about this salvage team. I think some additional information will help us get a fuller image of who they are and what they do.
The struggle to dislodge the ship is now falling to SMIT Salvage BV, a legendary Dutch firm whose employees parachute themselves from one ship wreckage to the next, saving vessels often during violent storms. Japan’s Nippon Salvage Co. has also been hired to assist in the re-floating, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Yes, this is definitely a Statham situation. And Bruce Willis. Cast every rugged bald actor in Hollywood as a member of this salvage team and then add on one handsome young dude with terrific hair, like a Noah Centineo, just to give the handsome bald guys something to grumble about. It’s incredible to me that Hollywood hasn’t already started this. Maybe they have. I hope so. I need this movie on TNT by a rainy Saturday in early 2022. At the latest.
Let’s close by going back to the New York Times story. There is one additional item we need to discuss.
The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, said in a statement on Thursday that the day before, 13 ships had been expected to be able to move through the canal after the Ever Given was tugged out of the way. But the salvage operation was taking longer than hoped, forcing the ships to drop anchor in a waiting area, the authority noted in the statement.
To recap, we have:
- Cranky boat captains dropping anchor and floating around in the sea, which will make for excellent comic relief
- Many angry CEOs whose businesses are being held up by the stuck boat
I need Eric Roberts as one of these angry CEOs and I need him to put a plan in motion to blow up the big boat. I need to hear Eric Roberts say “Well, then just blow it up,” and shrug off any potential loss of life like it’s of no real concern to him. This is where things get fictionalized in the name of a good story. To add drama and excitement. And to give Statham and Bruce Willis a bomb to defuse. It’s not exactly a true story anymore but hey, that’s Hollywood for ya.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Jessica Walter was the best
Jessica Walter passed away this week, which stinks. Jessica Walter was great, both as a longtime working actress and just, like, in general, too. She’s best known for her work as boozy matriarch Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, as she should be, and please do take some time this afternoon to peruse her highlights in the role on YouTube. The woman could absolutely deliver a line or a wink or even just a laser-focused look that would elevate whatever was on the page and make it something special. You can probably tick off half a dozen of her best lines right now. You didn’t even need to watch the show to know them. Jessica Walter was the queen of reaction GIFs, even today, years after the scenes she was reacting in were shot. It’s kind of a cool legacy, actually.
She was so good as Lucille Bluth that she was hired to voice a kind of stakes-raised animated version of the character on Archer, FX’s deviously funny spy cartoon. Voice acting is not as easy as it appears. You have to create an entire performance using only one of the tools you have as an actor. Jessica Walter pulled off Mallory Archer so well and with such apparent ease — you could picture her holding a martini in the recording booth if you closed your eyes — that it was a borderline magic trick. It was typecasting but in the best possible way, considering anyone else would have just been doing a B/B- Lucille Bluth impression anyway. Might as well get the real deal.
It’s also worth noting that, despite being most famous for her later-career roles, Walter was a working actor for almost 60 years. She popped up everywhere. She was in a really great Columbo episode as the wife of a scientist who was killed by his boss for threatening to expose the boss’s kid as a plagiarist. She appeared in the pilot episode of the old Flipper show about a friendly dolphin who got into trouble and/or saved the day. And here’s the thing about being in Hollywood long enough to have been in the pilot of Flipper: you accumulate some great stories, like this one, from the 1964 episode of Flipper, which she told to Jesse Thorn on an episode of the Bullseye podcast.
“One of my first shows I ever did on film was Flipper. Remember, ‘Flipper, Flipper’? It was shot in Florida and it was about this dolphin. And so I get to Florida … they had a thing where Flipper, in the story, he comes out of a helicopter and he dives into the ocean to pick up this medicine… this trunk of medicine that’s gonna save people on my boat that’s stranded. So sure enough, you know, the helicopter, we set up the shots and we’re in the middle of somewhere in Florida in the ocean. And this helicopter, the thing opens up and OUT COMES FLIPPER, right into the ocean. Dives in. I said ‘Well isn’t that amazing!’
“He said ‘Well that’s a frozen dead dolphin.’”
Now, yes, let’s be upfront about the fact that this story is horrifying. You should not heave a frozen dead dolphin out of a helicopter for a stunt in a television show. You should not heave a frozen dead dolphin out of a helicopter for any reason, actually. Now that I think about it, you should probably not freeze a dead dolphin for any reason, very limiting science things aside. But that’s not really the point. The point is that you need to hear Jessica Walter tell that story. The rising and falling of her voice, the way she set up and delivered the punchline, all of it. You can probably hear it in your head right now if you close your eyes again. I bet you’ll see the martini again, too.
I will miss her a lot.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Tall cast continues getting taller
I have an important update about my favorite television show, the upcoming HBO series about the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers, which has not aired a single episode yet and will not start airing episodes until 2022. The last time we talked about this show I was bringing you the very exciting news that Michael Chiklis would play Red Auerbach and Adrien Brody would play Pat Riley, and now it is my great pleasure to inform you that Bo Burnham has been cast as Larry Bird. From Variety:
The untitled series was ordered at HBO in December 2019. It is described as chronicling the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties, in what came to be called the Showtime Era.
Bird is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time. Having played his entire professional career for the Celtics, he helped lead the team to three NBA Championships. His time with the team included a legendary rivalry with the Lakers.
First of all, I love it. I love everything about it, starting with the little paragraph in that blockquote where Variety felt the need to explain who Larry Bird was in the most basic terms possible because Variety is the type of Hollywood trade publication that is read by a fair number of people who would not know. I love that this casting made me shout “WHAT?!” at my desk in a silent room. I love that the show also cast Jason Segel as Paul Westhead, Riley’s Laker predecessor, because Bo Burnham is like 6’5 and Jason Segel is like 6’4 and there’s no point not just casting all the tall dudes in Hollywood at this point.
But mostly I love it because it gives me an excuse to post Larry Bird stuff in a column that is allegedly about film and television. Like, for example, his segment from the old NBA Superstars video, which a) is set to John Mellencamp because of course it is, and b) I had on a VHS cassette as a small child and watched so much that the tape wore out, and c) also featured a set of Michael Jordan highlights set to “Take My Breath Away” from the Top Gun soundtrack.
And, for another example, this true story about Larry Bird from a Jack McCallum book that was helpfully excerpted by Yahoo a few years ago.
“I think I wanna be active,” said Bird. “What I might do, though, is git in shape, git outta shape, then git in shape again. I won’t do it like I used to, though. It’s gittin’ tougher. Three years ago I could lose fifteen pounds like nuthin’. Now? I don’t know if I could.” He had put on a few pounds when he was out of action, but he wasn’t sure how many. “I was so bored, I’d set around the house, drive my wife crazy, and eat and eat. In two and a half weeks I was off I ate ten gallons of ice cream and seven weddin’ cakes. Why them? I ate weddin’ cakes ’cause you knew they was gonna be good. I mean, who would [eff] up a weddin’ cake?”
That last sentence might be one of the most logical things I’ve ever heard. Bless this upcoming television show for giving me an excuse to share it with you. And for casting John C. Reilly as former Lakers owner and noted Tinseltown playboy Jerry Buss, because that happened, too. If you don’t know who Jerry Buss was, Google him. This is perfect casting. I love that part, too. I love it all.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Look at the French Andy Samberg
The French Canadian version of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, titled Escouade 99, was renewed for a second season this week, which is cool, I guess, even though I had not been aware it existed during its first season. I’m happy for everyone involved. But that’s not why I bring this news to your attention. I bring this news to your attention because the image at the top of this section is a promotional picture from the series and I need everyone to look at French Canadian Andy Samberg.
Is it weird that I had zero interest in watching the French-Canadian version of Brooklyn Nine-Nine until I zoomed in on their version of Jake Peralta and now I want to see it so bad that it physically hurts me? I need to know how Jake’s very American antics translate — literally and metaphorically — to another culture. What pop culture references does he use? Does he still love Die Hard? Does Jason Mantzoukas play Adrian Pimento in this too, speaking fluent French out of nowhere? Is it weird that this last thing somehow would not surprise me at all?
I am filled with questions.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — It’s about family
I have discussed F9 a lot in this column. Too much, probably, by anything resembling a reasonable measure. I can’t help it. The trailer came out over a year ago and then the entire world conspired against me seeing it until this coming June. (This is how I choose to perceive it, at least.) It’s not fair. Charlize Theron has a magnet plane. They might go to space. HAN IS ALIVE. Come on. I’m only so strong. It’s a miracle I’m not out mumbling about this on the street.
And, somehow, even this week, almost a year after it was supposed to be released, there is more news breaking about the movie. This news, specifically: Young Dominic Toretto will be played by Vin Diesel’s real son, Vincent Sinclair. From TMZ, of all places.
When the “Fast & Furious” franchise revs up its engines again for the 9th installment, you might notice a familiar, but much younger-looking face … because it’s Vin Diesel’s kid!!!
Vin’s 10-year-old son, Vincent Sinclair, will be making his big-screen debut this summer in ‘F&F9’ … as the younger version of Vin’s character, Dominic Toretto.
- Vin Diesel’s real name is Mark Sinclair
- Which means he gave his son his real last name and his chosen first name
- It would have been awesome if he named his son Vin Diesel, Jr.
- Imagine being a 5th grade substitute teacher and calling out names for attendance and getting to “Vin Diesel, Jr.”
It makes sense, though. As Dominic Toretto has been telling us from the beginning, the movies are about family. But I think my favorite part of the news is this next blockquote, in which TMZ both sort of insults a 10-year-old boy and endorses unpaid child labor.
It’s unclear how much screen time Vin’s boy will get, but his minor’s contract says he got paid a daily rate of $1,005. Not bad take-home for a kid who, let’s be honest, probably woulda done it for a pack of gum.
I need this movie to come out soon. I’m starting to lose my mind. Just blast it onto the side of the White House with a projector and let the people watch from the lawn. Do it this weekend. It’s not like any of us have other plans.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.com (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.
I started watching Bosch on your recommendation a few weeks ago and I am so glad I did. It’s a perfect pandemic binge. The funniest part has been how excited I get when I see one of the scenes from the screencaps you post all the time. My wife thinks I’m crazy because some character will mumble Bosch’s name in the middle of a serious scene and I’ll start laughing. So I guess what I’m saying is… thank you?
Tom, you are welcome. And I’m sorry. But mostly you are welcome. What I like most about this email is that it kind of makes me the Bosch of the situation. Is this all an excuse to post the picture of Lance Reddick sitting at his piano with a glass of wine and grumbling Bosch’s name after another one of Bosch’s shenanigans has put him in a tough spot, kind of like you when my dumb shenanigans make your wife look at you like you’ve lost your mind?
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A man was arrested over the weekend after leading law enforcement officers on a multi-city chase in a stolen Frito Lay truck, and an Enid police officer’s body camera captured the moment he was taken into custody.
Well, guess what: We have a SNACK TRUCK HEIST.
And not just any snack truck heist, either. A snack truck heist with a multi-city police chase. This sounds, to me, like a crime that was thought out ahead of time and planned meticulously.
Oklahoma City police said it started Saturday morning near Northwest 39th and May. The driver of the Doritos truck stopped and went inside a convenience store.
“While he was inside the store, somebody jumped into the truck and stole it. He came back outside and while he was waiting on police, he could actually see it parked across the street,” Capt. Jeff Spruill said.
I do not often wish I were a police officer. It does not seem like a job I would enjoy in any substantial way, and I do not think I would handle the authority well. I would be a bad cop and I would hate it. But this is one of those very rare situations where I would like to be a cop, just for a minute, just so I could ask the guy who stole the Doritos truck on a whim some sunny afternoon in March just what, exactly, he was thinking.
But more than that, I would like to be his defense attorney. I think I could get at least one person on a jury to agree that sometimes your day just goes sideways and you — any of us, really — could find yourself leading the cops on a jurisdiction-hopping chase in a stolen Doritos truck. It happens. We’ve all been there. Not guilty.