Movies

The Rundown: Let’s Steal The Rock’s Massive Dinosaur Skull

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 — We’re going to do one last job

The facts are important here, so I am going to start there. The Rock was a guest on the playoff edition of the Manningcast this past Sunday, for the game between the Rams and the Cardinals. That alone is kind of a lot if you think about it. Imagine explaining to someone 20 years ago that the Manning brothers would be hosting a wildly popular simulcast during an NFL playoff game and one of their guests is The Rock, who is now one of the 10 biggest action movie stars in the world. I assume the person from 20 years ago would be blown away by this. Once they got over the thing where time travel exists. Big day for them.

Anyway, more important business here: While Rock was on the Manningcast, while he was discussing playoff football, there was, just sitting there, a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex skull behind him. Here, look.

Uproxx’s Robby Kalland — a good man and a tireless investigator — already did some legwork here. The T-Rex is named Stan. The original version of Stan, one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons ever discovered, sold at auction recently for somewhere just north of $30 million. There are also Stan replicas floating around for much more reasonable prices. I choose to believe it’s the real one, though, mostly because it would be funnier (when presented with two equally plausible options, you should always choose the funnier one), but also because it allows me to remind everyone about the time Nicolas Cage outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a dinosaur skull and then later had to return it to the Mongolian government when he discovered the skull had been stolen. It is maybe my favorite thing ever.

As it turns out, the skull had been stolen from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the buyer was Nicolas Cage, an actor who among his dozens of films has starred in a movie franchise about the hunt for rare treasures.

A publicist for Mr. Cage confirmed that he bought the skull from the Beverly Hills gallery I.M. Chait in 2007, according to Reuters. The Department of Homeland Security contacted Mr. Cage about the skull last year, and the actor agreed to turn it over.

Perfect, all of it. I love that dinosaur skull collecting is a thing in Hollywood. If you click that link up there, you’ll see that DiCaprio is at the center of multiple dino Venn diagrams. He got outbid by Cage for the stolen Mongolian one, and when Russell Crowe was selling his dinosaur skull (Russell Crowe owned a dinosaur skull, obviously), the paperwork revealed that he bought it from, you guessed it, Leonardo DiCaprio. I choose to believe they have a secret dinosaur club and have meetings in Leo’s house. You cannot convince me otherwise.

Anyway, not the point. Kind of the point, maybe, but also not. The point is more straightforward: We should steal The Rock’s dinosaur skull. A whole Ocean’s operation. Lasers, wires, misdirection, disguises, all of it. I bet Cage would help. He’s probably still sore about the Mongolia fiasco. It could even be a movie, I guess. Nicolas Cage as himself stealing a dinosaur skull from The Rock, also as himself, to replace the stolen one he had to return to the government of Mongolia, which is again, a real thing that happened. Sucker writes itself.

But it would be more fun to do it in real life. This much is undeniable. Please picture a world where you wake up some morning and open the social media platform of your choice and are greeted with a headline like “TEAM OF HI-TECH THIEVES STEAL THE ROCK’S $30 MILLION DINOSAUR SKULL IN DARING MIDNIGHT HEIST.” Imagine how thrilling that would be. It might honestly be the best day of my life, and that’s before we get to follow up headlines that include phrases like “NICOLAS CAGE SUSPECTED” and “BANKROLLED BY LEONARDO DICAPRIO” and “OUTLINED IN AN INCRIMINATING ARTICLE BY A BLOGGER WHO IS ALSO A SUSPECT.”

The only catch here is that we need a getaway driver. Cage could do it but he’ll be too busy verifying the skull for us. We need someone with experience behind the wheel. Someone who maybe has an ax to grind with The Rock. Someone who, just spitballing here, lives his or her life a quarter-mile at a time…

VIN LAST JOB
UNIVERSAL

I need this. I am not joking. The last few years have been so weird. John Wick 4 got delayed until 2023. I need some excitement. I deserve some excitement.

Let’s steal The Rock’s dinosaur skull.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — I know I’m on record saying there are too many reboots, remakes, and continuations but this one is okay, actually

raylan.jpg
FX

What we have on our hands here is yet another Two Things Can Be True At Once situation. In this case, those things are as follows:

  • There are entirely too many reboots, remakes, re-imaginings, and continuations, and it would be nice if our smartest, funniest, and most creative minds dedicated more energy toward creating cool new things instead of going back to previously fruitful wells over and over
  • I am thrilled about the new Justified-adjacent limited series that was announced this week

I don’t know. I am strangely at peace with this hypocrisy. Some of that is because the band is all getting back together. (Showrunner Graham Yost is back. Longtime director Michael Dinner is back. Freaking Timothy Olyphant is back as Raylan.) Some of that is because I am a simple man. And some of it is the premise.

The show returns to Givens’ story eight years after he’s left Kentucky and now is based in Miami, balancing life as a marshal and part-time father of a 14-year-old girl. A chance encounter on a Florida highway sends him to Detroit and he crosses paths with Clement Mansell, aka The Oklahoma Wildman, a violent sociopath who’s already slipped through the fingers of Detroit’s finest once and wants to do so again.

This is fine. It’s good. It’s good and fine. Justified was a great show, one of my favorites ever, and one I still return to every now and then even while acknowledging that its “shoot first, ask questions later and maybe never get around to asking questions at all” lead character didn’t age beautifully since it premiered. I’m going to be super happy to re-visit it all with a new story and a new perspective, even — apparently, although let’s not rule it out completely — if it comes without my beloved lawbreaker Boyd Crowder attached. Again, I’m at peace with this hypocrisy. The lessons here are twofold:

  • It is okay when I do and/or want things but stupid and bad when other people do and/or want them
  • I still want a spinoff about noted criminal weasel and women’s tennis aficionado Wynn Duffy and I want it to be titled All I Do Is Wynn

This was a good talk.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — I have no notes here

ZOUKS
NBC

We’ve talked about the upcoming Hulu series Pam & Tommy. The trailer was an incredible piece of art, in part for reasons relating to stars Lily James and Sebastian Stan looking kind of a lot like Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, in part because it contains a shot of Seth Rogen strumming an automatic weapon like a guitar while wearing pearls and three watches, and in part because… like, all of it. It’s cool and a lot. I love stuff like that.

And it gets better. Variety ran an article this week that previewed the action, and at the risk of spoiling a potentially historic television moment for you, that article contained this passage…

But we’re beating around the bush here. Once viewers catch Episode 2 of “Pam & Tommy,” they’ll all be talking about a specific scene in which Tommy, who had just met Pamela, wonders whether he’s falling in love — and discusses it in a heart-to-heart talk with his penis.

The penis tête-à-tête is inspired by an actual passage in “Tommyland”: In the series, Stan, as Lee, is seen carrying on a conversation with the chatty organ (voiced by actor Jason Mantzoukas)

Perfect. All of it. Especially the part where Tommy Lee’s talking penis is voiced by Jason Mantzoukas. Jason Mantzoukas is the greatest. He’s one of those guys who pops up in everything and makes everything he pops up in a little better. Sometimes a lot better. He has this perpetual chaotic energy that works even when it shouldn’t. This isn’t one of those situations, though. His energy is pretty much ideal for “voice of an extremely famous celebrity penis.” I am so proud of everyone involved here.

Let’s read on.

From a technical perspective, Gillespie describes shooting the scene as “just awkward. You’ve got four puppeteers working with an animatronic penis. And then, how much is too much, and do you start to lose his emotional torment of what’s going on? Hopefully it works.”

Meanwhile, Stan says he eventually approached the scene like working with any other acting partner. “By the end of it, I treated it like it was an intimate buddy conversation that one might have when they’re falling in love.”

The ambition on display here is commendable. Like, why not shoot a scene where the damn Winter Soldier talks to a magical penis that is operated by numerous puppeteers and voiced by Rafi from The League? Why not just go ahead and try to have it all? You are only limited in this life by your own imagination. It’s good to remember that sometimes. It’s even better when the reminder is delivered by a talking penis puppet. I have always said this.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Go Birds

Okay. The important thing here is that this lady is fine. She got hit by a car on live television and brushed it off like a champ, explaining — in a fascinating twist I would love to unpack more at some point — that it’s not even the first time she’s been hit by a car. She’s fine. I want to be very clear that I am establishing this so I can move on to the next thing without you yelling at me for being insensitive and brushing over her health. She’s fine. Everything is okay. I’m going to move on now.

Did you hear it? Did you hear her slip into her regional accent in the aftermath of the car hitting her? Did you hear her say “I gawt ‘it biya corr” in a deeply pronounced suburban Philly accent? I did. I clocked it immediately. This is because I’m a maniac who has spent his entire life in Eastern Pennsylvania and has a lot of opinions about the food selection at Wawa. It sounded like home to me. Like “heaume,” if you will.

But I wanted to be sure. I wanted to double-check just in case I was projecting my own biases onto things. So, I poked around a bit and ended up on her Twitter profile. And I looked at her bio…

tory
TWITTER

There are a couple of things worth noting here:

  • I knew it
  • It is wild how panic and adrenaline — and alcohol, in some cases, although not this one — will stir up otherwise-dormant pronunciations of words, almost as though they slip through while the body’s defenses are distracted or operating at a deficit

And guess what: This wasn’t the only notable example of the Philly accent making news this week. There was also this, from Abbott Elementary, a good show we discussed last week.

I watched these two clips again while writing this and now I have a craving for a soft pretzel. So… off to Wawa. I am less of a human being than a caricature. It’s fine.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Let’s just keep interviewing Brian Cox every week or two for the rest of this year

SUCCESSION logan
HBO

Everyone should talk to older people more. Older people are the best. They’ve seen so much and they have so many stories and eventually they get to a point where they stop caring so much about biting their tongues in the name of politeness. It’s great. Go call your grandparents. Ask them about stuff. Ask follow-up questions when they answer those first questions. You’ll get more out of it than they will.

This brings us to Brian Cox. Brian Cox is the best. He’s the best because he plays Logan Roy on Succession, sure, but he’s also the best because he just says whatever the hell he wants when people interview him. He’s been doing it for a while, too. Here’s an interview from 2016 where The Guardian asked him a bunch of boring boilerplate questions, one of which was “What’s your guiltiest pleasure?” And Brian Cox said, “Licorice. And cannabis.” It’s beautiful. He did not have to say “cannabis” there. He could have just said “licorice.” He did that for us.

And he did it again this week. Here’s an interview he did with Deadline to promote his new book. It is wild. Both the book and the interview. He talks trash about his friends and his enemies, calls out Johnny Depp by name, and gets way into the whole Jeremy Strong thing. You remember that. The profile where Jeremy Strong discussed his process. Here’s what Brian Cox said about all that.

Because he does what he does and he does it brilliantly, but it’s also exhausting. Particularly exhausting for him, but it’s also exhausting for the rest of us from time to time. But we weather it because we love him and because the result is always extraordinary, what he does, but at the same time, there is the double-edged sword that goes with it.

Which is refreshingly honest. But also the kind of thing that might get him in trouble down the line. Which the interviewer brought up. Which led to one of the best answers to any question I’ve ever seen.

DEADLINE: Do you worry that you’ve done that to yourself to some degree with the book?

COX: What?

DEADLINE: Put yourself in a vulnerable position?

COX: No, no. Listen, I’m too old, too tired and too talented for any of that shit.

Yeah. Let’s go ahead and pencil in one Brian Cox interview every week for the rest of this year. Ask him about whatever. Ask him about pizza. I’ll do it if I have to. This is serious.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (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 Drew:

I don’t think we’ve made a big enough deal out of the gravy dispenser in the chicken restaurant on this week’s episode of The Righteous Gemstones. I’ve been thinking about it all week long. I have a million questions about it. Are gravy dispensers with multiple flavors and styles of gravy something that exists in the Gemstones universe? Are they common things that are in other restaurants? Do people have them in their homes? Why don’t they exist in real life? Do they exist in real life and I just haven’t found one yet?

I feel like you have questions, too. Please help me… no, the world, correct this injustice.

Buddy, you are correct on multiple fronts. We did not talk about it enough AND I have a million questions about it. This is on me, kind of. I can and will do better going forward. But before we get into it in any more depth, let’s post the GIF so the people are all on the same page.

gemstones GRAVY
HBO

Okay, I have three additional questions:

How do they prevent the gravies from contaminating each other considering they all come out of the same nozzle?

Has anyone ever been kicked out for putting their mouth right on the nozzle and drinking gravy straight from the tap?

What do you think would happen if you mixed all the gravies in a cup and poured it over your mashed potatoes?

I’ll stop here, not because I’m done as much as because I don’t think I can top the idea of Gravy Voltron. This was a good email, Drew. Thank you.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Key West!

A tourist made a big impression in a Key West bar by ordering drinks three times on New Year’s Eve without leaving a tip. That enabled the staff to easily track him down after police released webcam video showing vandals setting fire to a Christmas tree.

The first and most important takeaway here is to not be the kind of person who doesn’t tip bartenders and lights Christmas trees on fire. That is some big-time Grinch activity. You are better than that. I believe in you.

The second and third takeaways are TIP YOUR BARTENDER. Jesus Christ. I know that’s technically one thing and that I already mentioned it in the first paragraph, but come on. Tip everyone: bartenders, waiters, anyone in any service industry. Tip well, too. Start at 20 percent and go up as the mood strikes you. It feels good and is good and, in some situations, can avoid you getting arrested for crimes you’ve committed. There is no losing here.

The arson caused more than $5,000 in damage to the city’s landmark buoy marking the southernmost point in the United States, and sent the island’s “coconut telegraph” gossip chain into high alert, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Another takeaway: Key West rules. I went there on vacation a long time ago and I’ve never been anywhere that gets the general concept of life any better. Just a whole town filled with eccentric goofballs drinking umbrella drinks. I think about it every winter. Let’s all rent a house and stay there until May.

Like other locals across the city, bartender Cameron Briody watched the video, and recognized the 21-year-old man who had stiffed him at Irish Kevin’s on Key West’s famous Duval Street. “I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips,” Briody told the Herald.

TIP

YOUR

BARTENDER

The bar’s general manager, Daylin Starks, turned to recordings from the “ton of cameras” that watch over the bar each night, and matched credit card receipts to time-stamped videos of the man and his 22-year-old friend.

“We could follow them the whole time, in and out of the bar,” Starks said. “We could see them getting rejected from all the girls they were trying to hit on.”

This is objectively hilarious and a perfect little bow on the story. Not only did these losers get arrested for torching a Christmas tree in Good Vibes City, not only did they get dragged publicly for being cheapskates who don’t tip service workers, but they also got roasted by the bar’s manager in print for whiffing on their sad little pickup attempts. A perfect news story. Let’s recap:

  • Tip your bartenders and/or waiters
  • Don’t light Christmas trees on fire
  • Key West rules

Please write these down. Thank you.

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