The Rundown: A Semi-Unified Theory Of J.K. Simmons

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 — I need J.K. Simmons to yell at me, just once

The voice is the first thing. That booming, authoritative, distinctive voice. I could pick it out in a second in any crowded room or commercial voiceover. It’s so commanding, like a dad or a teacher or the mustachioed boss of a metropolitan newspaper who just wants pictures of Spider-man, goddammit, and that last one works out perfectly because, yes, I’m talking about J.K. Simmons, and yes, he did play J. Jonah Jameson to perfection in multiple Spider-man movies, to the degree that I would have watched a prequel about his rise to the top of the masthead at the Daily Bugle. J.K. Simmons is the best.

He’s great in everything he’s in, too. The man does what he does extremely well. Need a chief of police or high-ranking government official? J.K. Simmons is your man. Need a hard-charging teacher who drives his students with relentless intensity? Yeah, get him in there too, and get ready to give him an Oscar for it. Need a maniac who holds a grudge against your slacker main character and torments him for the majority of the movie before delivering a fatherly speech that puts everything in perspective? Well, guess what, he’s your guy, as we discovered — and should have already known, really — when Palm Springs dropped on Hulu last weekend. I desperately need J.K. Simmons to call me a shit bird. I feel like that will be the thing that finally makes me get my act together. Have him summon all the contempt and disappointment he can muster and have him blast it straight into my face. I’ll straighten up. I won’t have a choice.


I’m not joking about the speeches, either. No one gives a full-on monologue that explains the gears and cranks of the plot like J.K. Simmons. The one from Palm Springs is wonderful, just him calmly explaining life to Andy Samberg while chilling by the pool in his backyard. He has another great one in The Accountant, a legitimately good action movie where, yes, he plays a high-ranking Treasury agent and gets to wear a fedora sometimes. It happens something like two-thirds of the way into the movie and lasts about five minutes and contains an entire prequel’s worth of information about how he and the murderous genius accountant played by Ben Affleck got to that point. It’s fantastic. You could make a whole movie that’s just J.K. Simmons explaining the plot while other people act it out in silence. He should narrate every documentary. Most of them, at least. Can’t have him burn out those pipes.

It’s always cool to see someone do the thing they do exceptionally well. I’m sure there are times where J.K. Simmons gets tired of playing authority figures who are sick of their underlings and their lackadaisical attitudes. I’m sure there are times where he and Lance Reddick show up at an audition and lock eyes for a moment like “Well, one of us is getting this role as the mildly corrupt CEO or weary police chief, so good luck, friend.” I’m glad he got the Oscar for Whiplash and I’m glad he got the dual-role lead in Counterpart — a good show — that allowed him to play both sides of the authority coin, cocky hitman and sadsack loser. Everyone should get to spread their wings a little bit now and then. It’s good. Let J.K. Simmons soar.

But please, Mr. Simmons, if you’re reading this (I feel better calling you “mister” for some reason even though I’m in my 30s), do not ever stop playing these intimidating authority figures. Do not ever stop giving speeches to confused slackers and troubled junior agents. Do it forever, in as many projects as possible, with or without a mustache. And please, for the love of God, just one time, look at me with scorn and call me a shit bird, just to get me on track with my life. I’m a mess. I’m 30 minutes late turning in this article and I’m not even done yet.

You’re the only one who can save me.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — I knew it!


It has been my position for a number of years now that the Fast & Furious franchise will end up in outer space at some point. I took this position in part because it is an objectively funny thing to say and because it is quickly becoming the logical next step. In Fast Five, there was a car heist that took place on a speeding train. In Furious 7, a half dozen cars parachuted out of an airplane. In Fate of the Furious, Charlize Theron flew around the world in an undetectable science plane and later briefly hijacked a nuclear submarine. There are only so many modes of transportation left before one or more characters get launched into the cosmos. It’s this or a blimp, really.

Well, I am pleased to report that it is starting to look like I am correct. Or that Ludacris is a cruel, evil man. Because this happened last week and set my tiny corner of the internet ablaze.

He’s being cagey here, either dancing around something he shouldn’t have let slip or being a rascal because quarantine is boring as hell and toying with the world is probably more fun than learning to bake bread. In that sense, if he is just doing this for goofs, I have no choice but to respect his decision. It’s not like I have a leg to stand on in complaining about it anyway. I’m the same person who has, on more than one occasion, tried to convince a person that I did not know who the Beatles are. (“Paul McCartney? The guy from Wings?”) I deserve this if that is all it is. Ludacris is just delivering the karmic payback that’s been coming to me for years. It’ll hurt, but I’ll deserve it.

They’re still going to space at some point, in this movie or one in the near future. There’s no way around it. Mark my words.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Let’s all chip in and buy the house from Golden Girls

Ladies and gentlemen, we are buying the house from The Golden Girls. The why is simple: Because it is on sale for the first time ever. Then when is simple, too: As soon as we can get the purchase price of $3 million together.

For the first time in 65 years, the Los Angeles home made famous by the American sitcom “The Golden Girls” has officially hit the market, as was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The property is currently asking a little under $3 million, a lot of money for a not-even-3,000 sq. ft. structure. But as Blanche (Rue McClanahan) might say in her signature Southern drawl, that’s just the price of being a devastatingly beautiful house.

The how is where it gets tricky. I’m good for, hmm, let’s say $5,000. So I’ll need the rest of you to pony up a total of $2,995,000. And then we’ll have to split up some sort of sharing arrangement. I get all of January and February because I live in Pennsylvania and hate winter, and yes, I realize two months is a big chunk of time for a person paying less than one percent of the total price, but it’s my idea. I’m the one inviting you into this opportunity. You should be thanking me, really. Pretty ungrateful on your part.

Anyway, while you’re rounding up the money to make this dream a reality (just imagine the faces your friends will make when they pull up to your house to visit during one of your weeks), please read this mind-bending paragraph from later in the article.

“Golden Girls” location scouts were initially drawn to the home’s flourishing flora since it gave off more of a Miami vibe than most L.A.-area properties. The Barrys agreed to have their house featured on the show for a small fee and loved having their famous home be seen on a national platform, though they were reportedly not sitcom fans and didn’t watch the show.

This is fascinating to me. I feel like the Barrys are either the coolest or most insufferable people to ever live. I really don’t see how there’s a middle ground on this one.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I did not know how much I needed this until this very moment

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Everything is very weird and stressful right now. There’s a pandemic and massive unemployment and an upcoming presidential election and my beloved Philadelphia 76ers are planning to move Ben Simmons to power forward. Lots of uncertainty. It’s understandable if it keeps you up at night sometimes. It would be nice to have a calm, relaxing program to put on in the evening, something that doesn’t involve murder or many murders, something that, to chose an example at random, features a number of celebrities with soothing voices talking you to sleep.

Well, too bad it doesn’t exist. Now to open up the old inbox and s-…

A totally new type of television experience that combines mesmeric imagery with narration by A-list stars – including Mahershala Ali, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Lucy Liu, Cillian Murphy, and Keanu Reeves. HBO Max’s first project in the Health and Wellness space, A World of Calm is the result of a unique collaboration between the makers of Calm, the no. 1 app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, and Nutopia, the team behind Nat Geo’s critically acclaimed series One Strange Rock.

It is ridiculous how excited I am about this show. It says a lot about the world we’re living in and my mindset that my favorite show right now is Holey Moley and the show I’m looking forward to most is basically a high-end substitute for Ambien. It’s probably fine. Let’s not talk about it!

I would like to point out two additional things before I end this section, though: One, it is borderline malpractice to not get Matthew McConaughey for this and, yeah, I’m a little mad about it, although the Keanu part helps; two, please take this opportunity to remember that Jeff Bridges made a completely mad and trippy spoken word album called Sleeping Tapes that sounds almost exactly like what you probably think it sounds like.

The world is always a little bit weirder than you think it is, no matter how weird you think it is.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Is… is Mike Tyson going to punch a shark?

Well, Shark Week is coming up. I wonder what the old Discovery publicity department has in store f-…

Legendary boxer and entrepreneur Mike Tyson is taking on a new challenge…and he picked the most unlikely training partner. Iron Mike will go head to head with one of the ocean’s top apex predators in TYSON VS. JAWS: RUMBLE ON THE REEF. With famed ring announcer Michael Buffer calling the shots, these two heavyweights will square off underwater, where Mike Tyson will try to score a TKO over the massive shark… all in the name of research.

See, sometimes public relations people think they’re slick. They think if they fill a paragraph with sentences about Mike Tyson maybe fighting a shark, you’ll forget that they tried to slip “legendary boxer and entrepreneur” past you. But you and I are too smart for that. We see everything. Congrats to Mike on the weed ranch, though.

That said, this did get me a little excited for a second. The rational part of my brain knows Mike Tyson isn’t going to punch a shark. There’s just no possible set of circumstances where that’s going to happen here, on television, in America, in 2020. I would kind of like to see it, though, just because I’m a curious man who has watched the entire video at the top of this section more than once, but yeah, no chance. Still, my heart sank a little when I got to this sentence.

And don’t worry, no sharks were harmed (or bitten) in the making of this episode.

Ah, come on. Let Mike Tyson punch a shark. Just once. We’ll pick a shark who did something bad so we don’t have to feel crappy about it. Maybe one who yells at retail employees during the holiday season.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (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.

From Megan:

I just wanted to thank you for recommending Patriot a few weeks back. My husband and I binged both seasons over the last month or so as our nighttime show after we put the kids to bed. The only problem is that we’re both so upset it got canceled. What a funny, moving, weird show. I’m trying to help spread the word, I promise!




Tell everyone to watch Patriot.

Tell them it’s on Amazon Prime.

Tell them they’re already paying for it anyway.

Tell them to join us.

Join us on the Patriot train.


Speaking of trains…

And Patriot


God, what a perfect show.


To Fort Lauderdale!

A curious 2-year-old kangaroo named Jack decided to roam the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood around his home north of downtown on Thursday, but city police had to jump in and catch him for safety’s sake.

This story is already perfect. Look at everything we have in the first sentence:

  • A kangaroo on the loose
  • A kangaroo on the loose in Florida
  • Florida cops trying to catch a loose kangaroo

It’s beautiful. I might start crying.

Fort Lauderdale police officer Robert Norvis answered the Signal 69 call, which usually means a dog or cat got loose.

“At first we didn’t believe it,” he said. “But when we got there it, sure enough, was a kangaroo.”

I’m not going to lie to you guys. I still love this story. I do. But I am kind of furious it didn’t come with helicopter footage of these cops trying to catch the kangaroo. I would have paid money to see that. I’m not joking. I’d pay $5 for it right now. Remember the llama chase? Remember how fun that was? Now add hopping. I’ll go as high as $10. Okay, $20. I won’t go above $50. But that’s it.

If you’re wondering how a kangaroo got loose in a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, you clearly haven’t thought this through enough. The answer, as you should have known, is “because a Florida man got it from a guy he knows and was keeping it in his house without ever filing paperwork or checking to see if it’s legal, which it is not.”

Macias said he got Jack about four months ago from a Davie man who was moving and didn’t want Jack anymore.

Jack shared a home with Macias’ Corgi named Max.

“They love each other,” he said. “They play and run around.”

Okay, fine. I’ll pay $50 for video of this, too.

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