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 — Jeremy Renner, house flipper
The internet is wild. I think sometimes we take that for granted. We get so caught up in our day-to-day that we rarely take a step back and think about it, how we have all the known information in the history of mankind at our fingertips every single second of every day. That’s insane. Not even thirty years ago, if you wanted to learn about, say, Neptune, you’d have to go to the library and scan through dozens of books or, at the very least, haul a huge encyclopedia off the shelf and flip around until you got to the “Ne” section. Now, you can do all that in maybe thirty minutes of mindless clicking and a Ctrl+F or two. You can’t become an expert in an afternoon or anything, but you can acquire enough information about any subject — politics, history, art — to look reasonably intelligent and sophisticated at your next cocktail party. You can get just about an entire liberal arts education for the price of a WiFi connection. Or, if you’re me, you can spend the better part of a day learning about Avengers star Jeremy Renner’s very lucrative house-flipping side hustle. That’s an option, too.
We’re all aware that Jeremy Renner flips houses, yes? Because he does. And he’s apparently super good at it. It’s fascinating to me, especially when you start getting into the dollar figures at play. Jeremy Renner might make more money flipping houses than he does acting, which is crazy because, again, he’s appeared in the biggest current movie franchise in the world and he starred in a Bourne-adjacent movie and he was basically the second male lead in The Town. He’s basically an HGTV star on the side.
I feel like I’m not explaining it well. This is the problem with the kind of manic internet deep dives I was talking about earlier. You can really look like a lunatic as you try to explain everything you learned to someone who isn’t quite as jazzed about it as you are (or have suddenly become). Maybe some examples will help. Yes, let’s do some examples.
From The Daily Mail:
Renner has been flipping houses ever since he got his first big role in S.W.A.T. alongside Colin Ferrel.
He and acting buddy Kristoffer Winters pulled together and invested in a house in Nichols Canyon because Renner hated paying rent.
The home was purchased in August 2010 for $7million and $10million was invested into a remodel with the help of architect Phillip Vertoch. Initially the manse was listed for $24.95million early this year.
This week it sold for $24million to British real estate mogul Christian Candy. Mr Candy liked the set-up so much he had most of the furniture thrown in with the cost.
He recently put one of his projects in Modesto, Calif., on the market for $569,000. The Oscar-nominated actor grew up in Central Valley and this particular house belongs to his mother, Valerie Cearley.
Built in 1927, the Tudor home was purchased by the actor in 2007. Today, the 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath, house showcases Renner’s signature color palette of white and earth tones.
Actors and house flippers Jeremy Renner and Kristoffer Winters have done it again. Their latest project: a classic Hollywood home that once belonged to legendary screenwriter and director Preston Sturges.
They’re asking $4.795 million for the restored home, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times. They bought the property in 2009 for $1.35 million.
From Realtor.com, which introduces us to “classic Renner touches”:
This house, originally built in 1927, isn’t a typical Renner flip. Sales records indicate he bought it for $565,000 in 2007, when property values were at their peak. But it does have a number of classic Renner touches, including masculine brick accents and dark wood flooring.
From Bloomberg, which provided five tips from Renner himself, including:
2. It’s amazing what a plant in the corner of the room can do for you, both aesthetically and mentally. They’re a great way to bring color into a room, and they also provide some fresh air.
I could keep going. It wouldn’t be hard. I have a bookmarks folder that has 23 links in it. But I think you get the idea. The man loves flipping houses. Go down the rabbit hole yourself sometime. Or learn about Neptune. It’s all right there.
For now, though, let’s recap what we learned today. Two things as far as I can tell. The first is all that stuff about Jeremy Renner, of course. But the second and arguably more important thing is that you should really try to convince your boss to let you write a rambling Friday braindump of a column if you can, wherever you work, if only so you can justify two to three hours of click-based midday procrastination as “research” by summing it all up in your lead section.
COWORKER: Brian, can you help us out with this?
ME: [40 open tabs about Hawkeye selling multimillion-dollar real estate between roles] Sorry, I’m really busy right now.
Nutty world we got here.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Thrones
This is the trailer for the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones. You know that, though. It’s been viewed millions of times and has been discussed in breathless tones by most of the people you know since it dropped earlier this week. With good reason. Look at it. We got flying dragons and people making faces at the sight of flying dragons and Cersei smirking and sipping wine while the entire world goes to hell around her, which is just about as perfect a distillation of that character — or any character, really — as you can squeeze into one short clip. It’s all very exciting.
I don’t want to talk about it, though. I want to talk about this thing George R.R. Martin said about the final season of the show.
“I haven’t read the [final-season] scripts and haven’t been able to visit the set because I’ve been working on Winds. I know some of the things. But there’s a lot of minor-character [arcs] they’ll be coming up with on their own. And, of course, they passed me several years ago. There may be important discrepancies.”
Man, this has to be such a cataclysmic bummer for George R.R. Martin, right? Here’s this thing he created, this whole universe he crafted in his own brain, which people all over the world love as much as some of their family members, and he’s not even going to be in control of its ending. I’m sure he tipped off the showrunners as to what he’s thinking about it all, but the beast grew too big too fast for him to control it. He still has two books to finish before he gets there and George is a deliberate writer. It’ll be years, maybe a decade before he gets to put the final period on his version of the story. A lot of people might have moved on by then. I’m getting a little sad for the guy now, just thinking about it.
A part of me kind of hopes he just throws in the towel and goes to live on a small island with the money he already has from it all. He doesn’t need this frustration. He’s already done enough for the world, even if we just count him providing the inspiration for one of the most popular and beloved television shows in history. Leave George alone. Let him blog about the Jets from a hammock. He’s earned it.
If he does insist on finishing the series, though, please consider this my official request that the ending be changed to the silliest and dumbest thing he can think of. Like maybe the Night King dies from appendicitis and the Walkers get so sad about it that they just go home. People would melt down. It would be chaos. I would pull up a chair in the middle of the raging inferno and I would laugh and laugh and laugh. It’s not that I want to take the experience of satisfying closure away from fans of the books. They probably deserve better. I just like looking at the flames.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Please get better, Alex
Alex Trebek revealed this week that he has stage four pancreatic cancer. This is awful. Cancer is bad and stage four pancreatic cancer is worse. Jeopardy! has been a part of my life for almost three decades now and Trebek has been at the helm for all of it. I’m not even sure I can conceive of a world where he’s not hosting. Jeopardy! is our smartest and best game show, by a mile, and he is the calming, authoritative, occasionally fun presence at the helm. He’s like your cool high school history teacher. He’s the greatest.
But he’s not leaving the show yet and he appears to have no interest in us pre-mourning him or feeling bad for him, so let’s stop all that for now. Let’s do something else instead. Let’s talk about some cool Trebek stuff. Like, for example, this legendary burn he dropped on a poor excited contestant out of nowhere.
And the time an entire sports category went unanswered — without a single contestant even buzzing in to give it a try — and he got kind of annoyed with everyone about it, like he was thinking “Look, I know this is a show that attracts nerds and everything, but come on, you guys.”
And then there’s this revelation from a 2014 Hollywood Reporter profile in which Trebek details the secret to his longevity: a daily breakfast of candy bars and diet soda.
I was counting up my various surgeries the other day and I think it’s close to 20 now — different parts of my body — and people often ask, they say, “You appear to be in good shape, do you work out?” I say, “No.” “Do you diet?” “No.” “Do you eat well?” “Well, sort of,” but my breakfast of champions for years was a Snickers and a Diet Pepsi, and this past year I ran into a nutritionist who said, “Oh, Alex that’s terrible! You’ve got to be eating better than that at the start of the day.” So I changed. I stopped eating Snickers and Diet Pepsi and I replaced them with Milky Ways and Diet Cokes, so you’re not going to catch me eating properly in the mornings.
And finally, this, from a 2014 profile in The New Republic, about his decision years ago to shave off his iconic mustache.
Fact: When Trebek shaved off his moustache in 2001, he did it in the middle of the day, himself, without warning the “Jeopardy!” producers. Renee was alarmed to come in and find him mid-shearing. He just felt like it, he says now. “And it got so much press, I couldn’t believe it. The wars with Iraq or whatever at that time, and people are all in a stew over my moustache. I have one response: Get a life.”
There are at least three parts of that quote that are perfect. You can have your “the wars in Iraq or whatever” and your “get a life,” though. I’m going to ride forever with the phrase “all in a stew over my mustache.” No one has ever been all in a stew over my mustache. No one ever will be. It’s one of the many reasons Trebek is a legend.
Get well, buddy.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — T-shirt time
I saw this tweet earlier in the week and now I can’t unsee it and neither can you. I do not follow the career of Dr. Phil anywhere near closely enough to know if “t-shirt time” is a running thing for him or if it has any meaning beyond what it is on its face. I don’t particularly want to learn, either. What I do know, though, is that there’s something profoundly upsetting about this picture that I can’t put my finger on. I think it might be the face he’s making. The eyes, specifically. Look at them. Look deeply into them. There’s something sinister in there, right? Something unsettling. I don’t like it. Whatever exactly “t-shirt time” is, I want no part of it.
I will give this tweet credit for one thing, though. Two things, actually. The first is that posting a picture of yourself in a plain black t-shirt is very generous because it allows the hordes of online rascals to easily Photoshop anything they want onto it. (Have fun, folks!) The second is that it reminded of another tweet from an aging legend of daytime television.
God, what a great tweet. Top five all-time, maybe. There’s context for it, I promise. I know the context, too. But I am absolutely not going to share it with you because I want to let you keep living in a world where Regis Philbin — father-in-law of Good Place creator Mike Schur, which is a true thing you can verify right now if you want — started a beef with the Wu-Tang clan online. I want you to have that. Ignorance might not truly be bliss, but in this case, it’s pretty sweet.
Oh, and after he tweeted that, this happened.
Pretty solid work by everyone involved and a really great palate cleanser after Dr. Phil’s serial killer eyes.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — God bless Steve Buscemi
Are you guys watching Miracle Workers on TBS? Consider giving it a shot, if you aren’t. The premise goes something like this: God has decided to blow up Earth in two weeks and the planet’s only hope is a small team of employees in heaven — led by Daniel Radcliffe — getting to socially awkward people to kiss first. I’ll leave it there in case you want to check it out and discover more on your own. It sounds nuts, I know, but it’s surprisingly fun and charming and devilishly mean in places.
The reason I bring it up here is because Steve Buscemi plays God and he appears to be just having the time of his life. The version of God on this show is a mess, a hopeless and helpless depressed old man who shuffles around in sweats and slippers looking for ways to fill his day. In the screencap I posted at the top of this section, he has just burned his hands severely while trying to heat up a pot pie in a microwave that confuses him. Not long after that happens, he switches to cold-pressed juices for lunch. And not long after that happens, he experiences explosive stomach-based consequences. Steve Buscemi does. While playing the Lord Almighty. It’s a whole thing.
How great is Steve Buscemi, man? I’ll accept any answer more complimentary than or equal to “pretty freakin’ great.”
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and 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.
You’ve mentioned a few times that you think all spoons should be soup spoons. Please elaborate and rank spoons.
Can do, pal. Here’s an incomplete ranking of kinds of spoons.
5. Grapefruit spoon — Glorified spork.
4. Tablespoon — Tablespoons are great in theory because they’re larger than teaspoons and enable you to shovel more food per scoop into your big dumb face. The problem is that tablespoons are not a normal, socially acceptable spoon to use for eating. It’s a spoon for measuring things or possibly serving them. If you sit down at the table and start using a tablespoon as a dining utensil, you’re going to look like some sort of crazed glutton. Not ideal. Especially when there’s a better, less humiliating option.
3. Teaspoon — Entirely too small. Not wide or deep enough to safely balance many foods on the trip from the plate or bowl to your mouth. A great way to spill milk on yourself while eating cereal. Garbage.
2. Large wooden spoon — Great for stirring. Also great for whacking stuff and/or people. Nothing makes you feel like an old Italian grandmother quite like standing over a big boiling pot with a wooden spoon in your hand and then using the same spoon to crack greedy relatives on the fingers for trying to taste something that isn’t done cooking yet. Isn’t that all any of us are looking for in the kitchen, really?
1. Soup spoon — Wide and deep. Holds more food safely than any other spoon one normally associates with eating. Perfect for scooping food and depositing it in your mouth, spill-free. The fact that we invented this much improved, almost perfect eating utensil and then decided “No, we can only use that for soup, and the waiter will take it away from you before the rest of the food comes” is perhaps the best evidence I can think of that our time at the top of the food chain should come to an end as soon as possible. We’re wasting it anyway. Let’s give, I don’t know, flamingos a shot next. Can’t do any worse.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Sheriff: Man throws Molotov cocktails at impounded car
You know, I usually open this section up with a blockquote of the opening paragraph to provide a little more context, but I think the headline does plenty of heavy lifting here. I’ll give you more information because I’m a professional, but you absolutely do not need it.
An arrest affidavit says the owner was told a car in his tow lot was on fire. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office says the owner identified the man throwing Molotov cocktails at the car through video surveillance.
Who among us hasn’t been there, you know?
Anyway, maybe you read that and started thinking “Hmm, a man from Florida who throws Molotov cocktails at his own impounded car. I wonder if Brian chose this story just so he can post a GIF of Jacksonville native Jason Mendoza from The Good Place throwing a Molotov cocktail while shouting ‘BORTLES’?”
Uh, no. I did not choose this story just so I can post a GIF of Jason Mendoza from The Good Place throwing a Molotov cocktail while shouting “BORTLES!” I choose it because I love it and because I wanted to post a GIF of Jason Mendoza from The Good Place throwing a Molotov cocktail while shouting “BORTLES!”
See, two reasons.