Movies

The Rundown: The Feud Between The Rock And Vin Diesel Must Go On Forever, For The People

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 — This is fuel to me

There are very few things in this world that bring me more joy on a day-to-day basis than the years-long, constantly bubbling feud between Vin Diesel and The Rock. I cannot get enough of it. I could read an article about it right now. I would stop typing this paragraph and go read it and smile the whole way through. I know it’s a petty impulse on my part. I know it’s a little ugly. I do not care. Shoot it into my body with a machine gun. I need the bullets to live.

The history here is well-documented, sometimes by me, but here’s a short version. The Rock and Vin Diesel made Fast Five together. It was a good movie. Then they had a falling out on the set of a subsequent Fast & Furious movie, which The Rock, bless his drama-loving WWE-trained soul, spilled out all over Instagram like a scorned teen.

“Some [male costars] conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken s—t to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses. When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling — you’re right.”

Perfect. Beautiful. The fallout was… I don’t want to say “fast and furious” because that’s too on the nose, but let’s say “swift and intense.” Everyone started typing a lot. Tyrese got emotional. The Rock and Jason Statham were spun off into their own mini-franchise because my two beefy dads can’t be in the same room without shooting smoke out of all the holes in their faces. I consumed it all while cackling like the Joker.

Things reduced to a simmer for a while. Tempers cooled, business interests took hold, a ceasefire was negotiated. Kind of. A stray shot would sneak through every now and then. At one point, Vin Diesel said this, which was really quite funny.

“I protect everybody including Dwayne. I protected Dwayne more than he’ll ever know. And it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t have to know. But he appreciates it. He knows it. Dwayne has only got one Vin in his life. Dwayne Johnson only has one big brother in this film world and that’s me.”

Please do picture The Rock reading this quote in his personal gym one morning and becoming so angry that he whips a 50-pound kettlebell at a mirror. And it gets better because Vin sat down for a profile for Men’s Health — a magazine The Rock 100 percent subscribes to — earlier this year, back when F9 was coming out, and he said… well, this.

“It was a tough character to embody, the Hobbs character,” Diesel says. “My approach at the time was a lot of tough love to assist in getting that performance where it needed to be. As a producer to say, Okay, we’re going to take Dwayne Johnson, who’s associated with wrestling, and we’re going to force this cinematic world, audience members, to regard his character as someone that they don’t know—Hobbs hits you like a ton of bricks. That’s something that I’m proud of, that aesthetic. That took a lot of work. We had to get there and sometimes, at that time, I could give a lot of tough love. Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”

FELLINIESQUE.

I promise to you — and I would never lie about anything related to this situation, just out of respect — that I shouted a little when I read that. And so, apparently, did The Rock, because he sat down for a profile in Vanity Fair — a magazine Vin Diesel 100 percent subscribes to — in October and responded to a slew of things Vin said point-by-point, all leading up to this paragraph.

“You know, I’ll tell you this,” he says eventually. “One part of me feels like there’s no way I would dignify any of that bullshit with an answer. But here’s the truth. I’ve been around the block a lot of times. Unlike him, I did not come from the world of theater. And, you know, I came up differently and was raised differently. And I came from a completely different culture and environment. And I go into every project giving it my all. And if I feel that there’s some things that need to be squared away and handled and taken care of, then I do it. And it’s just that simple. So when I read that, just like everybody else, I laughed. I laughed hard. We all laughed. And somewhere I’m sure Fellini is laughing too.”

I am vibrating right now. I am so excited that I’m vibrating. And it gets better, somehow, because The Rock, bless his jacked and/or shredded heart, will not let it go. He’s out promoting his new Netflix movie Red Notice right now, and, well…

“People were asking me about that and they just, they find a way, and you know, what’s interesting is, you know, these Vin diesel jokes, which play great by the way to the audience, which is always a good thing… because it’s really, it’s all about them.”

“But, people think these jokes come from me and they actually don’t. I mean, you’d be surprised at how many people come to me with ‘I got a great one.’ I’m like ‘okay.’ ‘I got another great Vin Diesel joke.’ ‘I’m sure you do.’ Always funny.”

I need this to continue forever. We all do. Things have been weird out there for a while now. A pandemic is still raging and our government is a chaotic mess and people are all a little frayed around the edges. We need one pure thing that will never let us down. We need The Rock and Vin Diesel to keep feuding in the press. They need to keep this up. Forever. For the people.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — TOBY SOPRANO

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HBO

The thing I like about David Chase is that he made a piece of art that is pretty much universally regarded as a masterpiece of its generation, one that altered the trajectory of an entire medium in ways we’re still experiencing 20 years later, and he is still just as cranky as all heck about it. I mean that. I like it a lot. There’s something charming about the world pointing at someone and saying “That man is a genius” and that man throwing up his hands and saying “feh” to all of it. I hope people interview him once a month until the end of time and I hope every interview goes kind of like this one in the Hollywood Reporter went. Part of me thinks he secretly loves it.

But we’ll get to that. I promise we will. It’s going to take us a minute to get there, though, because this also happened in that interview and it altered the trajectory of my entire week. Look at this.

Your father’s business partner had a kid who you knew, who was your age, I believe.

Yeah.

And he had a cousin. Who was that?

Toby Soprano.

This is where the Soprano name came from?

Right, yeah. But I don’t know that Toby was connected. He might have been, I don’t know. He had a Cadillac.

Toby Soprano.

Toby.

Toby Soprano.

I can’t stop thinking about this. I can’t stop saying out loud, just a little bit most of the time, like three in a row under my breath and then a fourth one very suddenly bursting out at a higher volume. It’s… it’s fascinating to me. Tony Soprano, perhaps the defining character of fictionalized crime of the past quarter-century, a towering figure in the television landscape that lesser imitators have been trying to recreate ever since he was introduced, was based on some dude David Chase kind of knew named Toby. He had a Cadillac. I suspect I am taking this information with me to the grave. Toby Soprano.

Back to David Chase. He was asked, once again, for probably the 10,000th time since the show ended, what happened in the final scene and how he felt about the ongoing worldwide reaction to it all. And he said this.

I had no idea it would cause that much — I mean, I forget what was going on in Iraq or someplace; London had been bombed! Nobody was talking about that; they were talking about The Sopranos. It was kind of incredible to me. But I had no idea it would be that much of an uproar. And was it annoying? What was annoying was how many people wanted to see Tony killed. That bothered me.

Which is great and perfect in about four different ways. One of the ways it was perfect is that the casual reference to “what was going on in Iraq” reminded me of maybe my favorite quote by anyone ever, delivered by Alex Trebek in a 2014 profile in The New Republic.

Fact: When Trebek shaved off his moustache in 2001, he did it in the middle of the day, himself, without warning the “Jeopardy!” producers. Renee was alarmed to come in and find him mid-shearing. He just felt like it, he says now. “And it got so much press, I couldn’t believe it. The wars with Iraq or whatever at that time, and people are all in a stew over my moustache. I have one response: Get a life.”

“People are all in a stew over my mustache” has been living in my brain ever since I read it for the first time over seven years ago. It’s not going anywhere. And now it’s been joined by Toby Soprano. What a remarkable sequence of events we have on our hands here. Everything just coming together organically, at least in my haunted funhouse of a brain. It’s fun. We have fun.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Jason Momoa is battling COVID, presumably with a sword or trident

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Warner Bros.

Good news and bad news, ladies and gentlemen. Bad first: Jason Momoa, Duncan Idaho and Aquaman himself, apparently contracted COVID at the Dune premiere in London. That’s a bummer, just generally, because Jason Momoa rules and I do not want him to be sick and/or unhappy, but also specifically because it puts a small hold on my plan to put him in every movie.

This brings us to the good news, though: Jason Momoa appears to be handling COVID better than any other human has ever handled being affected by a disease at the center of a year-long global pandemic.

“I got hit with COVID right after the premiere. There was a lot of people I met in England, so got a lot of aloha from people. And who knows?” how he got it, Momoa said Friday.

The Hawaii native added that “either way, I’m doing fine.”

How fine? Hmm. How does “hanging out with his quarantine bro, a professional skateboarder who is just doing skateboard tricks all over the living room and stuff” sound?

Momoa said that he’s isolating with his “roommate,” skateboarder Erik Ellington.

“Everyone wants to know how COVID is going, it’s going pretty good,” he said in another update, as he filmed Ellington doing tricks on his skateboard through the house. “Yeah, we’re having a ball,” Momoa said with a laugh.

Jason Momoa is living a more thrilling and exciting life while infected with COVID and quarantining at home than most of us live on the vacations we planned out months in advance. In some ways, I suppose, this is upsetting. In other, more substantial ways, it feels, like, cosmically correct. Let’s focus on that second part. Good for Jason Momoa.

I mean, not that he caught the thing. Just, like, for the rest of it. Guy seems to have things figured out.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I will watch this show

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Netflix

Two things are true here:

  • Sofia Vergara is set to star in a cool-sounding new show from the producers of Narcos
  • That picture up there is not Sofia Vergara but is a promotional picture from Narcos that I love very much, so there’s that

Details, via Variety:

Titled “Griselda,” the series chronicles the real life of savvy and ambitious Colombian business woman who created one of the most profitable drug cartels in history. A devoted mother, Blanco’s lethal blend of charm and unsuspecting savagery helped her expertly navigate between family and business leading her to become widely known as the Black Widow and the Cocaine Godmother.

This sounds great. Griselda Blanco was the focus of one of the Cocaine Cowboys movies. She was wild, man. I will almost certainly watch this show when it comes out, mostly because I tend to watch shows like this. That’s why I’m typing these sentences. To bring it all to your attention.

Actually, I lied. I’m typing these sentences for two reasons. The first is the one I just mentioned. The second is the thing where Narcos comes back this weekend and I wanted another excuse to show you some of the show’s promotional images over the years. Yes, again. I know. They’re just so good. Like, look at the classic ones of Pablo Escobar, illustrating the “at first I was like / then I was all” meme better than any two images on Earth.

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Netflix
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Netflix

Or this more recent one, where it looks kind of like this guy found a large package of cocaine on the ground and decided in that moment to become one of the world’s biggest drug kingpins.

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Netflix

Or this one of Scoot McNairy and his mustache standing in front of a flaming truck for the season that is about to start.

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netflix

The point I’m sauntering casually toward is that I have very high expectations for this new show with Sofia Vergara. Expectations for the quality of the show, sure, fine, but mainly expectations for the promotional images. Show me Sofia Vergara with a machine gun in her hands riding on a speedboat filled with cocaine and handsome men. That would be a nice start.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I know we’ve all probably seen this by now but sometimes things still need to be discussed

love trap
CHANNEL 4

So here’s what happened: The other night, I was minding my business, scrolling through my phone like a good little mindless content zombie, and I saw this tweet.

What happened when I saw this can only be described as a kind of gasp/laugh combination that lasted a number of minutes, which was awkward because there was another person in the room who I could not explain it all to because of all the aforementioned gasping and laughing. It was a real problem.

Also a problem: Figuring out what to do with this information. My first instinct was to try to learn nothing else about it at all, to just have this one pure thing and keep it that way forever. But I’m a curious man. Too curious. Curious enough that I was reading this article before the gasping and laughing even stopped.

In The Love Trap, David Birtwistle, a personal trainer of Too Hot To Handle fame, must choose one of eight women to date, without accidentally selecting one of those planted in the house to “trap” him.

First of all, hilarious. They got a retread from another lunatic dating show and they gave him a shirt and put him in a room with beautiful women and trap doors. Give everyone a raise. Everyone involved in this in any way. Even me, just for typing this.

The other women and even presenter Joel Dommett don’t know who they are, and the audience (although none of the contestants) only finds out if they were real or fake once they’re eliminated.

Ah yes, the eliminations.

THE ELIMINATIONS.

It was hard to concentrate on much else in this episode once it became clear that a woman, inevitably wearing high heels and a bodycon dress, would have the ground disappear from under her once David decided she wasn’t for him.

All correct. I cannot imagine actually trying to watch a full episode of this show, especially after I knew the gimmick. It feels like it would get old fast. Unless they do other weird stuff to the people who get eliminated. Like, for example, just off the top of my head, shooting them out of a cannon. Again, I’m not the expert. I wouldn’t have even thought of this show. But I do think I deserve that raise.

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 Leroy:

Is Lazlo yelling “bat!” and Roy Kent yelling “whistle!” the same joke, and if so is there a third instance of this joke, it makes me laugh every time.

Hmm. It kind of is the same joke, Laszlo yelling “BAT” on What We Do in the Shadows before he turns into a bat and Roy yelling “WHISTLE” on Ted Lasso instead of blowing an actual whistle. But you’re right, it is a good joke. There’s something about charming people yelling random words with purpose that just works. Give me more of it.

As to the second part of the question, I… I can’t think of another example. I know there are plenty. I’m blanking and it’s infuriating me, especially since I just did that whole thing about how my brain has stored “in a stew over my mustache” for seven full years. If you can think of some, tell me. And Leroy. Tell us both. We’re struggling here.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Barcelona! Kind of!

“I was taking my son, Milan, for a walk in the park and I got him a little ice cream. We sat on one of those park benches and we were just minding our own business. And then two huge wild boars came from the back and ambushed [us] and took my purse!”

See, the thing about this quote right here is that it’s incredible even before you know who said it. Some lady was in a park with her son and — out of nowhere — two giant wild boars stole her purse. That’s wild! But it also brings us to the best part…

It wasn’t just a regular woman.

It was…

I’m thrilled to report…

Shakira.

We actually discussed this once before, weeks ago, back when it happened. But now she’s talking about it in a new profile for Glamour magazine. And, continuing a promise I made to all of you back then, I will always update you anytime there is more news about wild boars stealing Shakira’s purse.

And I was like, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” and screaming, because they were taking it away, with my phone in it, my car keys, everything! Like they could understand me! And people were just watching and they weren’t doing anything!” she says, laughing now over the incident in which luckily no one was hurt. “

In the defense of these frozen bystanders, if I saw two giant wild boars run up and steal a purse from international music superstar Shakira and go tearing off with it, I… I think I would be frozen solid, too. That’s a lot for any brain to process. Too much, honestly. These people should be commended for not just passing out on the spot. Leave them alone, Shakira. They’re doing the best they can.

“They started digging inside my purse… Obviously my son’s sandwich was inside the purse, so that’s why they were so interested. So they took the sandwich and walked away and left my purse. It was wild.”

It says a lot about me that I read this paragraph and my initial takeaway was “I wonder what kind of sandwich it was.” Like, I was angry that the writer didn’t get clarification via follow-up. Journalistic malpractice, I thought, and kind of still think, even now, days later, with many opportunities to get over it.

What did we learn here? Two things, I think:

  • Be careful around wild boars
  • I should not be allowed to interview Shakira

But I guess we all already knew both of those.

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