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 — Think about this
The basic outline of the Sonic saga is pretty straightforward. Paramount released a trailer, everyone got very mad about the way Sonic looked, Paramount redesigned Sonic and released another trailer, now everyone is happy about it. Bingo bango, everyone wins.
The thing is, if you actually stop and take a few minutes to think about all of it, if you dig into the cracks and spaces between the straightforward statements in that first paragraph, the whole thing is so weird. Weird on a staggering level. Almost unprecedented, really. When has something like this ever happened before? We — you, me, all of us, as a society — are not making a big enough deal about it. Let’s remedy that.
Start with the obvious. The character was designed and rendered. It presumably went through a bunch of focus groups. Money was spent. A lot of it. The movie was well into production, far enough at least to cut together enough footage for a trailer. The trailer was cut. It was released to the world.
And people got so mad about it that the studio threw all that work and money in the trash. They started over. They enlisted experts. They released a new trailer with an entirely new-look main character a full seven months later. Seven months. Over half a year. All these people thought they were in the home stretch and then someone smashed the glass and pressed the emergency button — presumably labeled “TEETH” — and everyone had to start over from square one.
Think about the meeting where this was decided. Think about the animators who had to get hauled back in to recreate the main character of a movie on short notice. Think about all the manpower and paperwork and stress that was devoted to the cause. Now, think about the fact that all of this happened on a movie about Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s crazy. People in suits shouting at each other over a cartoon rascal hedgehog. Stripped of even a little bit of its context, this quite possibly the funniest thing that has ever happened.
Okay, now let’s move to the internet. Do you realize what happened here? The internet yelled about something, a large corporation changed it, and then the internet was… happy? Do you understand? That doesn’t happen. You can’t please the internet once you’ve wronged it. The battle lines are drawn at that point. The internet is vicious. What should have happened here — maybe not “should,” but at least “usually would have” — is people waiting for the new trailer to come out and then mocking that one, or even firing off contrarian takes about how the first one was better. We’re all jackals. This should not have worked. But look at the coverage of the new trailer. It’s got almost universal approval. This is madness. And it sets a bad precedent. It’s like giving a candy bar to a toddler who threw a tantrum in a grocery store. It just encourages us. Slippery slope.
The bottom line in all of this is that the actual Sonic movie is now the least interesting part of the Sonic movie to me. I would almost rather watch a movie about the making of the movie. No, check that. I would definitely rather watch a movie about the making of the Sonic movie. I would watch an entire FX limited series about it. It’s fascinating to me. Think about how nervous everyone had to be as they pushed out that new trailer. Think about the shaking finger hovering over the button to publish. Think about the beads of sweat slowly trickling down the faces of the animators who were at their breaking points. Make this movie. Make it now.
But first, just for fun, because again, we’re all jackals, let’s yell and scream for a bit to see if we can get them to replace Ben Schwartz with Larry King as the voice of Sonic. They opened the door here. This is their fault. Let’s scream and shout in the cereal aisle until they break down and give us another candy bar.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — My sweet Bitmoji boys
This is a screencap from the current and final season of Silicon Valley. It’s a text from Jared — the very sweet and very troubled character played by Zach Woods — to his former employer, Richard. There’s really no need for background beyond that. The background and potential further spoilers are not the point. The point is that this is the second time a character on an HBO comedy has been shown communicating through Bitmoji. Here was the first.
That is a text from Noho Hank — the very sweet and very excitable Chechen mobster played by Anthony Carrigan — to Barry, the title hitman character on Barry. Again, the background is not important. Everything you need to know about the character is right there on the screen. If a picture is worth one thousand words, it turns out a Bitmoji is worth three or four thousand, easy.
In conclusion, two notes:
- This continues the ongoing dedication by this column to notice patterns in prestige-type television shows, from lightning strikes to falling air conditioners
- I want Jared and Noho Hank to be friends, if only to see if Jared’s organizational skills help Hank straighten out the organized crime business
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Everything feels cooler with the Watchmen music
This music from Watchmen, which I have titled “The Regina King Doing Things Song,” is very cool. I’ve been listening to it all the time lately, often while I am doing things myself. Not necessarily the same things her character does on the show (I rarely even use my secret lair anymore), but still, things. Making a sandwich, paying a few bills, straightening up my absolute disaster of a desk. It just feels… cooler to do things to this music. Like you’re up to something. Like you’re on some sort of mission.
I haven’t tried this yet but I suspect it is also excellent “driving around town at night” music. The only thing you have to worry about is that you might get carried away and try to steal a priceless jewel from a museum or something. It is definitely also “steal a priceless jewel from a museum” music. You could always try using it as a defense. “Your Honor, I had no intention of stealing the priceless jewel from the museum. I was just listening to Trent Reznor’s music from Watchmen and, next thing I knew, it was in my car.”
No jury in the land would convict you.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Well, now you’ve done it, AMC
I have discussed, multiple times in multiple formats, my frustration with AMC’s decision to cancel Lodge 49, a very good show that is exactly the kind of thing we need to break up the glut of similar-type shows mucking up our televisions and streaming services and such. You don’t need me to go on another whole thing about it. I will, don’t get me wrong. I will, gladly. But why would I do that here when I can turn that responsibility over to executive producer Paul Giamatti, who is now apparently emailing entertainment journalists about it?
From the Los Angeles Times:
“It breaks my heart to think this show will die a stupid death at the hands of a network that seemed, bizarrely, afraid to promote it,” Giamatti’s email continued. “We are determined to take it somewhere else.”
There’s good news and bad news here.
GOOD NEWS: It delights me that Paul Giamatti is passionate about saving this show because a) I also want to save the show, and b) you can practically see him typing this if you close your eyes for a second, all rage and red cheeks
BAD NEWS: Whyyyyyy am I not on the Giamatti email list? I would be so happy to wake up some morning and log on and see “Paul Giamatti” in unread bold at the top of my inbox. Ugh. Ugggghhhh. I was fine not getting emails from Paul Giamatti. I had never even thought about it. But now that I know other people are… it’s fine. I’m fine.
(I am not fine.)
Anyway, he continues.
As for his emailed remark that AMC was “afraid to promote” the series, Giamatti told The Times that his “temperature was up” following the cancellation. While granting that the network “let us make the show we wanted to make,” though, Giamatti reaffirmed his contention that “Lodge 49″ “wasn’t necessarily a thing that seemed to gel entirely with them.”
This image from Billions is how I picture him composing emails with his temperature up.
Email me, Paul. Come on.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Mary Steenburgen rules
Really cool piece by David Ehrlich at Indiewire this week. It’s about Mary Steenburgen, Oscar-winning actress and spouse of Ted Danson, and how she woke up from a minor arm surgery a few years ago with music in her head. Constantly. All the time. Which is a little weird and scary but also something she harnessed by writing hundreds and hundreds of songs, including the soaring and sweeping one embedded above, from the movie Wild Rose.
“I felt strange as soon as the anesthesia started to wear off,” Steenburgen said. “The best way I can describe it is that it just felt like my brain was only music, and that everything anybody said to me became musical. All of my thoughts became musical. Every street sign became musical. I couldn’t get my mind into any other mode.”
I did not know this before this week. It’s a little mindbending. And there’s more.
When the music didn’t go away, Steenburgen realized that she had to do something with it — if only for her sanity — even though she didn’t know how to play an instrument. “I called a very talented friend of mine on Martha’s Vineyard and I said: ‘Look, if I come over every day and sing what I hear in my head, could you help me make them into songs?’” she said. She wrote hundreds of songs that summer and sent 12 of the best ones to a music lawyer under her mother’s name. “He wanted to work with ‘Nellie Wall,’ but then I showed up instead,” she said.
Imagine you get a demo from an unknown artist and then in walks Mary Steenburgen, Will Ferrell’s mom in Step Brothers, all like “Well guess what, it’s me.” I’m not sure what I would do. I do know what I wouldn’t do, though: handle it normally. “Uh, wow, geez… aren’t you… but you’re… the music… you… Step Brothers… but…”
I suppose what I’m saying is that you should let me run your record label. I will do a good job.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or 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.
Brian, I’m sure you’ve seen this already thanks to multiple Google Alerts, but Jason Statham is selling his Malibu beach house. Look at it. Look at the deck. How many hours has he spent on that deck practicing tang soo do as the sun rises? How many evenings spent staring into a fire pit with a cold beer in hand? Is he buying a new home with a custom driveway so he can fit the Cash Truck in it? Anyway, I’ll take my answer off the air.
You will take your answer ON THE AIR, Jonathan.
Will you look at this house? Will you look at it? My God. Jonathan is right. I can see Jason Statham in sweatpants and no shirt just training out there on that deck as the sun rises over the ocean. Although I suppose the sun doesn’t rise over the ocean on the west coast. It sets in the west. So that ruins the visual a little bit. Sunset is not the time for martial arts training. Maybe that’s why he’s selling the house. Something to consider.
He wants $20 million for it. I vote we all pitch in and share it. Just clean up when you’re done, okay? Put on the Watchmen music while you’re sweeping, if it helps.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Wild boar snuffling in the forests of eastern Tuscany have dug up and destroyed a €20,000 stash of cocaine buried by drug dealers, police said.
The animals unearthed and broke into a sealed package of cocaine hidden in the Tuscan forest, near Montepulciano, before scattering the contents through woodland, local media reported.
WHY ISN’T THERE A MOVIE CALLED COCAINE HOGS?
The unconventional drugs bust was discovered when police wiretapped suspected drug traffickers – an Italian and three Albanians – and heard them complain about the damage to their woodland stash.
MAKE A MOVIE CALLED COCAINE HOGS AND REUNITE NICOLAS CAGE AND JOHN TRAVOLTA.
CAGE IS ALREADY MAKING A MOVIE ABOUT A TRUFFLE-HUNTING PIG.
SO HE’S IN.
TRAVOLTA WILL APPEAR IN ANYTHING.
REMEMBER THE SPEEDBOAT MOVIE?
MAYBE WITH A Z.