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. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Oh, I can get the Oscars under three hours
The Oscars are this Sunday. The lead-up to this year’s festivities have been… oh, let’s say “busy.” They were looking for a host, then they found one, then they… didn’t have one anymore, then they gave up and decided to go hostless. They were going to introduce a new category for “popular films,” then people yelled and they scrapped it. They were going to present some awards during commercials to save time, but people yelled again and that got scrapped, too. You ever see someone trip while walking down a sidewalk, catch themselves, pretend to do a little jog like that’s what they intended to do in the first place, then fall down an open manhole and snap both femurs? Me neither. But that’s kind of like what this has been like.
There are real problems the producers are trying to address, though. They want more people watching the ceremony, and they know how they want to address it, but they just don’t know how. Ideally, they’d like some combination of the following:
- A fancy host with a big built-in audience who can do a good monologue and not get swept up in a months-long scandal involving bad old tweets
- More nominations for blockbuster-type movies people see in the theaters
- A ceremony that comes in under three hours
The first two are tough. I don’t have a great solution for either. The second one is especially tough right now because movies seem to have been separated into Blockbusters and Awards Movies and — the nomination for Black Panther notwithstanding — there’s not much overlap there. Titanic made a jillion dollars and won a jillion Oscars. Do you remember what won Best Picture four years ago? It was Birdman. I don’t think you remembered that. This is their dilemma.
The third thing, well, that I can help with. I am on the record in many places — including this very column, just two weeks ago — as wanting things to be shorter. I’m happy to provide assistance, both for them and for my own selfish ends. I’m not made of time, people. Let’s get this sucker down to three hours flat, two if possible. Let’s think outside the box. Way, way outside the box.
Below, please find my simple three-step plan to shorten the Oscars.
STEP ONE: No more skits.
I don’t think these ever really work anyway. Even when they do, they’re just 5-10 minutes spent not giving out awards during an event for giving out awards. In fact, let’s see how this whole hostless ceremony goes and maybe stick with that. We can still hire a comedian to give a monologue at the top of the show if we’re very serious about keeping that part. We just don’t call them “the host.” Do some jokes and scoot. It’s best for everyone.
STEP TWO: Institute a $100,000 per second fine for any speech that goes over 30 seconds.
Oh, do you wanna tell a long story about your high school drama teacher or do a political rant that no one asked you to give. That’s fine. It’s your award and your moment. Do what you want. But a 90-second speech will cost you $6 million. Payable immediately. And the money doesn’t even go to charity either, so you can’t justify it that way. We just take the cash and light it on fire. It’ll all be a huge shameful waste that pleases no one and infuriates everyone and you need to decide if it’s really worth it to get in that jab at the clowns in Congress. It’s probably not.
STEP THREE: Once the presenters read your name off the card and announce you as the winner, you have 10 seconds to get to the stage or the award goes to the runner-up. If they don’t make it in 10 seconds, it goes to whoever was in third place. And so on.
This solves two problems: One, it cuts down on the time spent hugging people and leisurely moseying to the stage; two, it will shorten acceptance speeches because everyone will be out of breath. Also, it will be hilarious. Who wouldn’t watch that? Picture like Rami Malek in a dead sprint with Mahershala Ali thinking about tripping him to steal the award. (Tripping is allowed.) Female nominees trying to run in heels or coming to the event in rollerblades. Mass chaos the next day when someone spills marbles on the floor and no nominee makes it to the stage in time so the committee decides that Oscar rolls over to the next year and that winner just gets two trophies. I see no downside here.
Bingo bango. Problem solved.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Marvel, Netflix, etc.
The Netflix/Marvel relationship ended for good this week with the cancellations of Jessica Jones and The Punisher. This has been coming for a while, especially after the other shows in the catalog — Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, etc. — got the ax a few weeks ago, and if you want to sit here and discuss the various whys and hows of it all, you are more than welcome to do so. I will not be doing that. The short version is something like “diminishing returns plus escalating costs plus a changing media landscape” and that’s more than enough for me. I would rather discuss the time Sigourney Weaver did kung fu.
The villains were usually the best parts of these shows, when they worked. Mahershala Ali was so good in the first half of Luke Cage’s first season that it kind of ruined the rest of the show. Vincent D’Onofrio was a blast as Wilson Fisk, with all of his needlessly long anecdotes delivered in response to very simple questions, often starting with “When I was a boy…” (He was easily the most “Sir, this is an Arby’s” character on television.) And in The Defenders, the Avengers-style team-up series, Sigourney Weaver popped up as an evil millionaire so-and-so and she did this.
The Marvel Netflix shows were never great. Their seasons bent under the weight of bloated episode counts and a rotating crew of showrunners. Even at their best (season one of Jessica Jones, the Mahershala Ali parts of Luke Cage, bits and pieces of Daredevil), they never really rose above pretty good. And the less said about Iron Fist, the better. But you do have to give them this, if nothing else: No other big fancy prestige show — not The Sopranos, not Mad Men or Breaking Bad, not Game of Thrones — featured Sigourney Weaver doing kung fu. Has to count for something.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Tambourines
This week I rewatched Oasis: Supersonic because it’s on Netflix and I absolutely cannot get enough of Liam and Noel Gallagher lobbing insults at each other. It’s maybe my favorite thing and I don’t know why. I think it has something to do with their accents and their absurd egos and the fact that neither of them seems to care that they’re speaking into a camera when they’re talking. I could read or watch interviews with them all day. I have done it for entire days, actually. I kind of want to see a season of Big Brother where it’s just the two of them living in a luxury beachfront condo.
Anyway, while I was watching it, I remembered Liam Gallagher’s Reddit AMA from last year, and specifically the part of it where someone asked Liam how many tambourines he has. I’m going to show you his answer in a second, but first, do me a favor. Think of a number in your head that you would consider “a lot of tambourines.” Keep in mind how loud and jangly tambourines are. You could make a good argument — I would hear you out, at least — that five tambourines is a lot of tambourines. I could go as low as two, to be honest.
Well, whatever number you settled on, let’s just say that Liam Gallagher has A LOT OF TAMBOURINES.
I think about this every time I see him now. Sometimes I think of it out of the clear blue. I’ll be sitting around allegedly doing other work tasks and suddenly my brain will be all “Liam Gallagher owns 2,000 tambourines” and poof there goes the next 15 minutes. Sometimes I try to get a mental image of what it looks like. I like to pretend he has them stored in a vault and hyper-organized, like the way wine nuts store wine. Like he’ll be working on a song and think “Ah, this could use a touch of the 1977 triangle Janglemaster” and then he’ll go down to the vault and locate it in seconds.
That, or he just has 2,000 tambourines in a huge jumbled pile in an empty room in his mansion and he just tosses new ones into the pile as he buys them. Either one is fine.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — An incomplete list of people I would like to see play Batman now that Ben Affleck is out
Val Kilmer (again)
Me (I will do a good job)
Definitely Zach Woods
Let’s cast Zach Woods as Batman
Oh my God
Jared from Silicon Valley as Batman
I started making this list as a silly joke but now I’m serious
We need an awkward Batman
Let Zach Woods play Batman
What are you afraid of?
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Grab your black turtlenecks and grappling hooks
Amazon is putting something like $1 billion into the creation of a series based on the Lord of the Rings books. This we knew, because you can’t just throw around phrases like “Amazon’s $1 billion Lord of the Rings TV show” without burning them into people’s brains forever. We don’t have much information beyond that, though, and it turns out that is very much by design, as Amazon Studios top banana Jennifer Salke explained in a recent interview.
There’s a fantastic writers room working under lock and key. They’re already generating really exciting material. They’re down in Santa Monica. You have to go through such clearance, and they have all their windows taped closed. And there’s a security guard that sits outside, and you have to have a fingerprint to get in there, because their whole board is up on a thing of the whole season.
Here’s a little window into how my brain works. Until I read this paragraph, I had very little interest in the writer’s room of Amazon’s $1 billion Lord of the Rings series. It could have been located in my kitchen and I only would have noticed to the degree that it inconvenienced me while I was making lunch. It’s not like there’s a huge secret to any of it, in theory. The plot was laid out in the books and laid out again in the movies. I would have just made polite conversation with them — “How’s the writing going, guys?” — while I was making my chicken salad sandwich and then gone right along with my day.
But now? Now that I know the information is stored in a classified facility hidden away behind security guards and fingerprint scanners? Now I must know. I must have the secrets. I want someone to steal them. I want to see headlines like “Story Outline For Amazon’s Billion-Dollar Lord Of The Rings Series Stolen From Secret Facility In Daring Heist.” I don’t necessarily want one of the writers to get their finger chopped off so the thief can use it to get through the scanner, but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be a little thrilling to read about.
It could happen. People have stolen dumber things in crazier ways. In fact, I’m going to tell you about someone doing just that in a minute. Let’s not rule this out.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at email@example.com 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.
I’m going to cheat this week. I will answer one or more of your questions next week and in the weeks following. For now, though, I want to bring this passage from a public relations email to your attention.
Today, Audible released David Hasselhoff’s UP AGAINST THE WALL, a cold-war alternate history written and performed by David Hasselhoff. The Audible Original production tells the secret history of the fall of the Berlin Wall, including CIA Agent Nick Harper, who is mistaken for American Superstar David Hasselhoff, while Hasselhoff is mistaken for Harper in turn, unwittingly finding himself caught up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
David Hasselhoff wrote and performed an audiobook about a spy (played by David Hasselhoff) getting mistaken for the real David Hasselhoff (also played by David Hasselhoff, one presumes) while working behind-the-scenes to engineer the end of the Cold War in Berlin, Germany. I love this so much I want to buy it a box of assorted chocolates. Will I ever listen to it? Oh, doubtful. Very doubtful. I just love that it exists and that David Hasselhoff put this much effort into it. Good for him. Good for all of us.
It’s still not the best vanity project of its kind, though. Not even close. I hear you right now, saying something like “You’re telling me someone topped ‘a Hasselhoff audiobook written and performed by Hasselhoff in which a spy played by Hasselhoff gets confused for the real Hasselhoff while trying to end the Cold War’? Fat chance.” Well, my friend, it appears you have forgotten about Michael Flatley, the Lord of Dance, using his nine-figure fortune to self-fund a knockoff James Bond spy movie starring, you guessed it, Michael Flatley.
It’s worth noting here that I forgot my home address the other day but I remember everything about Michael Flatley’s upcoming self-funded spy movie. I’m sure it’s fine.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are searching for a man who crashed his car into the glass doors of an adult novelty shop, then ran inside and stole lingerie and sex toys.
Hey, remember a few paragraphs ago when I said I would tell you about someone stealing a dumb thing in a crazy way? Here you go. I would never lie to you.
Wanna know if this gets weirder than “someone crashed their car through the front of a sex store to steal dildos and lingerie”? I am pleased to report that it does!
Police Officer Jeanne Pierce tells Tulsa TV station KOTV that authorities believe the man knew the store’s layout because he ran directly to one section to steal the items, which were valued at about $300 to $400.
Another thing I should mention: This happened at 3 a.m. Please do think about the night this guy was having. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. This was someone saying “You know what? This is the night. This is the night I crash my car through the front of the sex store and risk everything — my freedom, my reputation, the paint job on my car — to get my hands on the most desired and unobtainable treasure the world has ever known: about $300 worth of adult toys and underpants.”
We all have our own dreams, you know?