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 – Pixar, I am begging you
Sequels can be tricky business. They can be fun when there’s a legitimate way to continue the story, but they can also come across as lazy cash grabs targeted at a baked-in audience. Sometimes movie franchises try to have it both ways by setting up a sequel by ending on a cliffhanger, which is extra annoying and a good reminder that both the most recent Fast & Furious movie and the most recent Mission: Impossible movie cut to their respective credits after an open-ended reveal about a submarine that was either trapped under or bursting out of a sheet of ice. Which was actually kind of funny. Both movies also featured frantic car chases through Rome and twists related to characters that died many movies earlier. This isn’t where I thought this paragraph was headed when I started writing it but it’s still important to note.
The point here is that you need to have a good story to earn a sequel. And that original stories can be hard to create. And that it’s kind of nice when the universe just goes right ahead and plops one in your lap. This brings us to this bit of news out of France from earlier this week.
Wine worth more than €1.5m ($1.6m) has vanished from La Tour d’Argent, one of Paris’ most famous restaurants and the inspiration for the film Ratatouille.
I think you see where this is headed. Especially if you are a regular reader of this column. But let’s get some more of the facts about this French wine mystery out of the way before we get to all of that.
The loss was discovered during a routine inventory of the 300,000 bottles at the “largest cellar in Paris,” a sommelier told Le Parisien.
An estimated 83 bottles are thought to be missing, according to the last inventory, which was taken in 2020.
Three things worth noting here before we press on:
- 300,000 bottles of wine is so many bottles of wine
- If 83 bottles of wine are missing and the estimated value of the whole haul is $1.6 million, that means the average cost per bottle comes in just south of $20k
- If I spend $20k on a bottle of wine it better drive me home when I’m done drinking it
One last blockquote.
Among the missing bottles are wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti a Burgundy estate famed for producing expensive vintages.
A bottle of Romanée-Conti from 1945 was sold for €482,000 ($523,878) in 2018, becoming the most expensive bottle in the world at the time.
Okay, that’s enough actual information to get us where we’re headed, which is… here: Let’s make this the sequel to Ratatouille. You saw the thing up in the first blockquote about this being the restaurant that kind of inspired the movie. Well, there you go. There’s your hook. We fast-forward from the end of the 2007 Pixar film to the present day, almost two decades later. We see Remy and Linguini thriving in the little bistro they opened at the end of the movie. We do NOT Google things like “rat life span” or “how long do rats live.” Everything is great.
The bistro’s impressive little wine cellar is ransacked. Maybe not to the tune of $1.6 million but still. It has the chance to ruin them. Maybe Linguini forgot to file the insurance paperwork. (Classic Linguini.) And so Remy and his rat friends across the city must investigate the situation themselves, in part to save the restaurant but also out of a love of fine food and drink. Something must be done. I really must stress once again that we do not question how a fully grown rat has survived for almost 20 years. That’s important.
I have this image in my head of Remy in the sewers in a little toy boat he’s driving like a speedboat, a match in his hand like it’s a torch, hunting down the many bottles of fancy wine that went missing. It’s a full-on animated thriller, a cartoon action movie with a thumping soundtrack. Yes, the thief is voiced by Pierce Brosnan. You see the vision here.
Coming to theaters next summer…
It’s time for…
ITEM NUMBER TWO – While we’re on the subject of Hollywood-adjacent heists
Well, here’s a sentence.
A dying thief who confessed to stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” because he wanted to pull off “one last score” is expected to stay out of prison after he’s sentenced Monday.
What’s actually happening here is that the man has months to live and is on hospice care and so everyone is just agreeing that jail isn’t necessary BUT it’s more fun — by a lot — to read this as saying he used “I needed to do one last job” as his actual defense and the jury rolled with it.
Terry Jon Martin, 76, stole the slippers in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He gave into temptation after an old mob associate told him the shoes had to be adorned with real jewels to justify their $1 million insured value, his attorney revealed in a memo to the federal court ahead of his sentencing in Duluth.
So, two things are true here:
- Stealing is bad and you should not do it
- If I knew I had months to live, I might try to steal some famous jewel-encrusted slippers, too
Seize the day, you know? And the slippers. Seize the day and the slippers.
“At first, Terry declined the invitation to participate in the heist. But old habits die hard, and the thought of a ‘final score’ kept him up at night,” DeKrey wrote. “After much contemplation, Terry had a criminal relapse and decided to participate in the theft.”
This story is a bummer on a number of levels if you dig down below the surface of it all but it’s going to take a backhoe for me to dig past “a mobbed-up career criminal drove himself mad by contemplating the theft of Judy Garland’s slippers from The Wizard of Oz as his one last score before his death” sooooooo…
Yeah, let’s just leave it there.
ITEM NUMBER THREE – Buddy, Elmo had a week
This is a video of Larry David physically assaulting Elmo on The Today Show and then being forced to apologize for it like a child, which is a lot to comprehend with or without context. And the explanation of how we all got here doesn’t make any of it less weird. But it’s fun. Here’s the shortest version I can put together.
Earlier this week, Elmo — or at least the social media manager who is tasked with being the voice of Elmo — tweeted this.
Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?
— Elmo (@elmo) January 29, 2024
And Lord in Heaven, did people ever tell Elmo. It became a whole thing. Thousands of people around the world replied to an adorable fuzzy red puppet to unburden themselves of piles of pent-up stress and anxiety and existential dread. There were write-ups and stories about it on the actual news, like the news normal people who aren’t online-addled weirdos consume. It achieved the escape velocity to get to the civilians, which is always a good barometer of whether something is an actual big deal or just something the rest of us goblins are shouting about.
A little while later, Elmo tweeted this follow-up, which is also adorable and proof that Muppets and Sesame Street characters are better-adjusted than the humans watching them.
Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you.❤️ #EmotionalWellBeing pic.twitter.com/jhn2LNKfHf
— Elmo (@elmo) January 30, 2024
Anyway, that is how and why Elmo was on The Today Show, where he was assaulted by Larry David, who was also there to promote the final season of a television show he’s been making for almost 25 years. I would bet my life and the lives of everyone I love on the fact that this represents the first time those words have been typed in that order.
I’ll leave you with this: The whole ordeal and my subsequent Googling led me to this, an interview with the aforementioned social media manager who tweets as Elmo that was conducted before this whole fiasco. Her name is Christina Vittas and she seems pretty cool.
I probably watch more Elmo content than a whole preschool class combined, but I am not learning my ABCs and 123s, I am learning comedy, character traits, and so much more that all goes into the work I do. I feel in touch with my inner-Elmo and am grateful that the joy, curiosity, and spirit of friendship that we share comes naturally to me.
In conclusion, please imagine being the person behind the couch in that video who has the Elmo doll slipped over a hand that is getting battered by world-famous comedian and Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. There’s a story you can dine out on for years.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR – I must see Monkey Man at once
We can get through this one in three bullet points and a blockquote:
- This is the trailer for Monkey Man, an upcoming film from Dev Patel and Jordan Peele
- It was released last Friday about 10 minutes after I submitted that week’s edition of this column, which was infuriating to me, a crazy person who pouted for 30 minutes that I would have to wait a week to mention it
- It looks freakin awesome
Here’s the description in the as-promised blockquote:
A young man ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he’s beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, he discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.
We are absolutely going to see this movie.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE – This is fascinating to me
Calista Flockhart is out doing the promotional rounds for the new season of Feud, which is titled Capote Vs. The Swans. I haven’t seen any of it yet and don’t know if or when will, but I do like this for Calista Flockhart. She’s always struck me as a cool lady, dating allllllll the way back to Ally McBeal, the show that made her a network TV icon almost 30 years ago. She’s not as active now, picking and choosing roles as opposed to gobbling them up as they come along, but it’s good that she’s doing it today because it means people can ask her about her decades-long romance with Harrison Ford. They’ve always struck me as a fun celebrity couple, one that just kind of adores and is proud of each other and doesn’t feel the need to shove it in anyone’s face.
This bit from the new profile of Flockhart in the New York Times does nothing to dissuade me from thinking this.
They hold hands on the red carpet; they get caught on camera canoodling at the airport as they shuttle between Brentwood and their ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and they play practical jokes on each other.
I’m breaking up this passage only because I really need you to focus on this next part. Please. Both eyeballs on the screen.
“I’m called the ‘Scare Monster’ in my house because I hide behind every corner,” she said. “And so Harrison will walk in, and then I’ll go, ‘Raaah!’ And he’ll go, ‘W-uy-aah!’ And then I die laughing. I’ll put a plastic spider inside his big ice cubes in the tray, and then he’ll drink it. But then I’ll go to bed two weeks later, and he’s out of town in Jackson, and I’ll take the covers down and there’s this little rubber scorpion. It’s fun.”
Three things worth noting here, once again via bullet point:
- Let’s go ahead and confirm my “Calista Flockhart seems cool” hypothesis
- Please close your eyes and picture Calista Flockhart hiding around a corner and leaping out and Harrison Ford — Indiana Jones, Han Solo, all of that — getting startled and shouting “W-uy-ahh!” in the hallway of his Wyoming home
- Please close your eyes and picture Harrison Ford at like a Five Below buying a rubber scorpion and looking the flabbergasted cashier in the eye and saying “I’m trying to get back at my wife for scaring me”
The people who truly deserve a reality show are the kind of people who would never want to star in one. It’s cruel but kind of beautiful.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (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 curious to hear your thoughts about the new Christopher Reeve documentary. His injury was like yours, right? I hope that’s okay and not too weird to ask. It’s just interesting that there’s this cool documentary coming out about a famous actor who had a spinal cord injury and one of my favorite entertainment writers has a spinal cord injury, too. Please feel free to ignore me if it’s not something you want to discuss.
Buddyyyyy I do not mind talking about it at all. To some degree, I even like when people ask about it because it allows me to answer their specific questions quickly and in a more targeted way rather than doing a whole What It’s Like To Use A Wheelchair rant. I like talking about other stuff, too, like heists and Jason Statham movies and sandwiches I ate, but you’re good.
A little background will help here, mostly for people who have never read my writing before and scrolled this far after finding this article with a Google search of “ratatouille sequel” (lol) (hi). Yes, I do have a spinal cord injury, too. Mine is not quite as severe as Christopher Reeve’s was, though. His was way up at the C1 and C2 vertebrae. Those are the ones that control, like, breathing. That’s why he was pretty much completely paralyzed from the neck down and used a ventilator. My injury is a little lower, at C4, and I’ve gotten a little recovery below that point, too. I still use a power wheelchair but I have some use of my right arm — it’s how I am typing this run-on sentence — and I am able to breathe on my own and drive an accessible van with a joystick like a dorky fighter pilot.
But yeah, the short version is that I think this documentary is cool. I haven’t seen it yet but I love almost anything that increases the awareness of disability issues like this and I like that it might start some conversations I would like people to start having. Christopher Reeve was a dope dude who didn’t run off and hide away when bad stuff happened to him and he did more to raise the public profile of disability advocacy than almost anyone I can think of. Someone like that deserves a documentary. I’m glad it appears to be a good one rather than the cheesy tearjerkers that often get made. Those always annoy the hell out of me. You can usually see them coming because the word “inspirational” is involved in a prominent way. Those are, in my biased opinion, puke city.
And while I’m already doing some Wheelchair Blogging, let’s go ahead and get this out there again, too: Documentaries and feel-good disability stories are fine, and again I support almost anything that advances visibility, but I do hope we see more movies and shows that have a dude in a wheelchair whose entire personality is more than just A Dude In A Wheelchair. And we cast people who have the disability in the role instead of, like, putting some able-bodied theater kid in a chair while the cameras are rolling. This does not feel like an unreasonable ask.
It is very funny to me that we’re about to go from Serious Disability Chat to… well, this…
AND NOW, THE NEWS
To New Orleans!
With their purple, gold and green colors and toy babies hidden inside, king cakes are staples of Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, but apparently they’re also valuable enough to steal — at least this time of year during the Carnival season.
Do we have a cake heist?
A Mardi Gras cake heist???
A thief stole seven king cakes — about as many as he could carry — during a break-in last week at a New Orleans bakery. The thief also took cash and a case of vodka from Bittersweet Confections last Wednesday, according to New Orleans Police Department.
MARDI GRAS CAKE HEIST
As much as I loved typing that, I do have to stop here and wonder. What, exactly, does one do with nine cakes? I get the vodka thing because alcohol doesn’t go bad but… that’s a lot of cake. It’s more than one person or family can eat. Feels like a crime that wasn’t fully thought throu-… aaaaaaand someone stole 100 cakes, too.
A sweet-toothed thief made off with 100 king cakes during a smash-and-grab in New Orleans early Tuesday.
Mike Graves, owner of the King Cake Drive-Thru, said someone broke a window on his van and stole the cakes, which were to be sold today at the company’s pop-up in Meridian, Miss.
I can’t decide if I want this to be the same guy who stumbled into a strangely lucrative black market cake hustle or if I want it to be a different thief who saw the original nine-cake heist and was like “Oh, I can definitely top that.”
Either way, we have a string of cake heists in the Big Easy. Shaping up to be a wonderful Mardi Gras.
While frustrated with the theft, Graves said he was grateful that no bakeries were left in the lurch because he’d already paid for the pilfered king cakes. The theft, he said, is just something that happens in the city.
This guy is remarkably chill about getting 100 cakes — ONE HUNDRED CAKES — stolen from him. We should all strive for this attitude. Good for him.
“Nobody got injured, and everybody has been very sweet and supportive,” Graves said. “There’s more good in the community than bad.”
THE CAKE HEISTS WILL UNITE US ALL.