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 — Listen to me
Picture this: It’s Batman, the whole way through, with the dead parents and the Bat Cave and the double life as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, but instead of being played by some young actor with a razor-sharp jawline and a brooding demeanor, blammo, it’s Jack Black. Yes. Yes, we are doing it.
The Batman of it all is fun to consider, mostly because of Jack Black in the Batman costume doing karate moves in an alley to incapacitate a slew of goons, and also because of the “one of our finest physical comedians getting into and out of the Batmobile” thing, too, please don’t discount the Bruce Wayne angle, too. Picture Jack Black in a tuxedo at some fancy Gotham charity ball, popping cocktail shrimp into his mouth and unleashing the whole Jack Black Charisma Bomb right there on the screen. It’s a good idea. I’m not crazy.
The only problem here is that now I’m angry. Again. I’m angry again that Batman isn’t fun anymore. We just got another new Batman project with another new Batman and it’s still all dark and emo and heavy, and like three full hours long. You can watch like eight episodes of the Harley Quinn cartoon in that time, and at least in that you can see Batman doing stuff like this.
That’s good. Great, even. Topped only by the thing I just mentioned about Jack Black playing a live-action Batman. I can’t stop thinking about it. Just now, while I was typing that last sentence, I got this image in my head of him in the Bat Cave trying to work a supercomputer and getting frustrated and spilling a whole Diet Coke on it and just shouting and raging around in the Batsuit and it’s making me so happy. He has just the suit on, too. Not the mask. We need to see his face for this. It’s a good idea. Picture him fighting Bane. Take the whole weekend on it if you need to.
Anyway, if all of this sounds a little familiar, like maybe something I wrote a little under a year ago with a similar headline, there’s a good reason for that: It is a lot like something I wrote a little under a year ago with a similar headline. That was titled “We Should Let (Or, If Necessary, Make) Jake Johnson Play Batman” and touched on many of the same ideas, regarding Batman being fun and an actor I like getting to try it. But there is an important difference here, and one I think you should note before yelling at me for being a derivative hack: This time I said Jack Black instead of Jake Johnson. Very different. Jack Black as Batman is at least 60 percent more chaotic. I think we need and deserve that.
So let’s get Jack Black on the phone. Let’s ask him to play Batman. A full Batman, too, with a massive budget and special effects and another chaotic star as the villain. Let’s pencil in like Eric Andre as The Joker. And let’s make another one with Jake Johnson as Batman, too. Let’s just have two Batman franchises running at once, maybe one on television, both goofy and weird as all hell. Batman has been dark and brooding long enough. It’s time to switch it up.
Let Jack Black play Batman.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I am so worried about Kim Wexler
This is the trailer for the first part of the final season of Better Call Saul, which will presumably take us back to the start of Breaking Bad, which premiered over 14 years ago now, which is a lot. It’s also how prequels work, so, like, fine. A little of the drama of it all gets removed because we know how this all shakes out for a lot of the characters, if we’ve seen Breaking Bad or rushed to Wikipedia in a panic. Saul does the Saul thing, Mike does the Mike thing, at least for a while, etc. But it does make things really stressful when it comes to Kim.
Kim Wexler is the love interest and law partner of Jimmy/Saul. She is very prominent throughout Better Call Saul, arguably the second most important character. And she is never mentioned in Breaking Bad. Not once. Which means one of at least two things is going to happen:
- Kim dies, which will devastate me
- Kim gets fed up and moves away and leaves it all behind
I need it to be the latter. Like, I need it. I will not do well if it’s not. A part of me wants to skip the entire season and just pretend she moves to California and changes her name to Ellen Swatello and becomes her character from Franklin & Bash, meaning that all three shows exist in the same universe. I’m fine. I’m doing great.
I’m also worried about my beloved Lalo Salamanca, a ruthless villain who won me over forever with blistering displays of charm like this…
I did Wiki Lalo, for the record, which is where I discovered/remembered this from Breaking Bad.
When Saul Goodman is kidnapped by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman and taken to the desert, Saul assumes that it is Lalo who has abducted him and starts begging for his life, blaming Ignacio for what happened, swearing he’s always been friends with the cartel. After realizing Walter and Jesse’s confusion, he understands he had mistaken them for Lalo’s men and sighs in relief.
After conquering the cartel, Gus visits Hector at Casa Tranquila and sadistically informs him that every other Salamanca is dead, which suggests that Lalo died at some point in time.
Which means Lalo, in all likelihood, also survives Better Call Saul. This is surprisingly important to me. I love him very much. And I’m so excited for the show to return. But also very worried. Again, it’s fine.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Please pause all existing television shows until this one gets made
Important business here: Jon Hamm was interviewed by Tara Ariano for GQ, and, because Tara is good at her job, she asked Jon Hamm about his dog, and then asked this relevant follow-up a bit later.
Since you are a noted voice actor, when you talk to your dog, and your dog answers you back, is there a specific voice you do for him?
I feel like his inner voice is Greg from Succession. He kind of is like, “[in a Greg voice] Wow. So wait.” He’s kind of confused and amused at the same. “But wait, so I get a treat, but are we going to go for a walk? But wait, I’m kind of sleepy. What?” Anyway, that’s how I feel my dog talks to me.
I need it. I need a show where Jon Hamm has a dog who speaks to him with the voice of Cousin Greg from Succession. I want them to solve crimes together. I must stress here that I am not joking even a little bit. It can be live-action or animated, on any channel or streaming service, preferably co-starring, oh, let’s say Regina King as a jewel thief and Luis Guzman as the police chief and Gonzo from the Muppets as the narrator. Please. For me. Please make this television show. I’ve been very good.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — This is… kind of incredible
The important thing to note first here is that The Righteous Gemstones is a good show. One of the best. A reasonable argument can be made that it features three of the funniest performances on all of television, with Danny McBride and Edi Patterson and Walton Goggins just doing a weave every week to decide who gets the crown. It’s so good. It’s been off the air for less than a month and I’m already despondent. Please make new episodes as soon as possible. Thank you.
But that’s not the point here. It is, kind of, but it’s also not. The point here is that Cassidy Freeman, who plays Amber Gemstone, revealed this week that she was secretly remnant during the filming of the entire season.
Unbeknownst to the majority of her cast members on the megachurch-focused dark comedy “The Righteous Gemstones,” created by Southern native Danny McBride (“Eastbound & Down,” “Hot Rod,” “Tropic Thunder,”) Freeman was pregnant during the majority of Season 2’s filming. “Well, no one knew minus my roommate and my bestie, Edi [Patterson],” Freeman says. Hot, mosquito-ridden days on-location in South Carolina, COVID-19 protocols, and some stunts here and there didn’t slow down Freeman, she adds.
Three things are worth noting here:
- This means that she was pregnant while filming the scene I screencapped above, in which she pops off a dozen or so gunshots at a crew of motorcycle assassins who tried to take them out, which rules
- I would absolutely watch a movie about a pregnant assassin
- I would absolutely watch a comedy where Edi Patterson helps her best friend hide a pregnancy
Please get to work on these last two things after we get the “Jon Hamm and a dog voiced by Nicholas Braun” show together. I feel like we can have all three of these wrapped up and available for me to watch by early 2023 if we hustle. Take the weekend to brainstorm, but let’s get cracking first thing Monday morning.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I need to see Denzel on acid
Denzel Washington did a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times, one that touched on music and religion and his career and just a whole lot of stuff that you are welcome to read and discuss on your own time because, right here, right now, we are going to focus on the thing where Denzel Washington did acid with a bunch of prep school kids.
Not, like, recently, though. That would be weird. And probably less of a fun anecdote than a national scandal. “Hollywood Star Denzel Washington Does LSD With A Bunch Of Teens” is not a news story any of us are really ready to comprehend. But he did do it many years ago, when he was also a teen. Here, look.
Washington had been remembering when he went away to boarding school in upstate New York as a teenager, following a youth spent in the house of his Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington Sr., where secular music wasn’t allowed.
“Listen, you’ve got to understand,” Washington tells me. “I get up there … my mother is trying to save me from the streets and heroin. And they sent me to a school with a bunch of white kids with acid. So I was introduced to the [Beatles’] White Album on some orange Owsley or orange sunshine or some blotter. So it expanded my experience.”
I absolutely must know what a teenage Denzel Washington was like on acid. If you went to prep school with Denzel Washington — or know someone who did — and can elaborate on this, please contact me at once. I won’t even publish it. This is all off the record, just for my own curiosity. I’ll buy you dinner and pick your brain and then we can just never talk about it again. But I do need to know. As soon as possible. Thank you.
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.
Just saw the trailer for the “Nicolas Cage as ‘Nick Cage’” movie. I am so happy for you, dude.
This was not technically an email. It was a Twitter DM. But it still counts because I want to talk about this beautiful film. Look at this trailer.
And look at this description.
Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalized version of Cage must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Things take a wildly unexpected turn when Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) and forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the seminal award-winning actor must take on the role of a lifetime: Nick Cage.
It’s perfect. It’s just laser-focused to my insane sensibilities in a way that almost feels uncomfortable, but in a good way, kind of like eating really spicy food. I’m so happy for and proud of everyone involved in the making of this movie. I can’t believe they pulled it off. The whole thing seems like a bonkers high-wire act and I suppose that means there’s still a chance it could all topple over and go splat in the execution, but that’s a conversation for later. Just doing it is impressive enough to me. Good for them.
And good for me, too, because Nicolas Cage was interviewed about it all and the discussion featured an extended riff on his cat, Merlin, which I am going to post here without any context because I kind of like it better that way.
I think the key is to respect them. And to let them come to you. The hand is very important. When you pet them, that connection is the great reward. When they start purring, you know they genuinely appreciate you being there. Lately, Merlin and I have had some issues because I got a little Pomeranian and he’s not happy about that. But Merlin is an unusual cat. It’s not the same as the other relationships I’ve had with cats throughout the years. There’s a real, almost human level of affection emanating from him which is almost like a son. It’s pretty intense.
Let’s go ahead and tie this into the show about Jon Hamm and the talking dog. Let’s have Merlin voiced by… hmm. Let’s go with Henry Winkler. I think that plays. And let’s also make a note to keep asking celebrities about their pets in every interview. Maybe just ask them about their pets. For the whole interview. It’s worth a shot.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to “colonize” the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week.
I hate it.
Large Joro spiders — millions of them — are expected to begin “ballooning” up and down the East Coast as early as May. Researchers have determined that the spiders can tolerate cold weather, but are harmless to humans as their fangs are too small to break human skin.
I suppose the good news here is the “their fangs are too small to break human skin” thing, but I absolutely cannot condone any situation where climate-resistant spiders are flying through the sky.
Thankfully, after that fear-mongering article from Axios terrified me in a deep and unsettling way, NPR put out a much more comforting fact-check that made me feel a little better about the massive flying spiders.
Despite their startling appearance — and their namesake — Davis noted joros don’t appear to be harmful or have much of an effect on local agriculture or ecosystems. In fact, he said, they may be beneficial to native predators like birds as an additional food source. And, while they kill their prey using venom, scientists say they are harmless to people and pets because their fangs are usually too small to break human skin.
Which is better. I still do not think spiders should fly. And I have seen enough movies to know that this is just how it starts, and that they’ll evolve rapidly and grow massive fangs and start dive-bombing from the heavens straight into our necks by 2024 at the latest, but still. This is helpful. I feel better.
Or at least I felt better until I read this from an old article in The Atlantic.
Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air. And spiders can increase those forces by climbing onto twigs, leaves, or blades of grass. Plants, being earthed, have the same negative charge as the ground that they grow upon, but they protrude into the positively charged air. This creates substantial electric fields between the air around them and the tips of their leaves and branches—and the spiders ballooning from those tips.
THE DEATH SPIDERS ARE RIDING ELECTRICITY THROUGH THE SKY AND COMING FOR YOUR FAMILY WITH THEIR SMALL BUT PRESUMABLY GROWING FANGS.
The lesson here is to never read anything. Just watch cartoons and YouTube compilations of idiots trying to do stunts. And eat donuts. Inside. Away from the electrospiders.
Please be safe.