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 – Let’s think this through
Something kind of important happened on this week’s episode of The Mandalorian. Baby Yoda — I will never call him Grogu — went tumbling through the air and landed in the arms of Amy Sedaris, where he proceeded to coo and babble as he always does. But she, in a fit of misguided hope, thought she might have heard something. Like… a word? Maybe the little guy’s first word? This had not even dawned on me until that moment, the thing where Baby Yoda might start talking someday. I mean, it makes sense, probably, because the other Yoda we know talked kind of a lot. Will this guy talk like that, with his words all out of order? Is that a biological thing how all Yodas talk? Or will he talk the way the people around him do, kind of a nurture over nature thing? I am now fascinated by this in a way I never expected to be. I don’t even care about Star Wars that much! But the brain is cranking now and there is no going back.
I’m not the only one who is thinking about it. Entertainment Tonight wrangled producer Dave Filioni and asked him about it, too. And his answer, as caught by ComicBook dot com, proved… well, not very helpful. But still.
When asked by Entertainment Tonight how old this species is when they start speaking, Filoni replied, “It’s a good question. I mean, I would suppose fairly young. We don’t know that he’s not talking in his own way, and, obviously, he can communicate with Ahsoka where she can at least divine from him some type of communication.”
He added, “What would his first word be? We’ll see, I don’t know.”
Anyway, a few notes here, which I will address in order of importance…
— The betting favorite here has to be Baby Yoda looking Pedro Pascal straight in the, uh, helmet, and saying something like “dada” or “papa,” just because the show has really been leaning into the cuteness factor lately — DID YOU SEE HIM WALKING THROUGH THE CAVE IN THE LAST EPISODE? — and that would be almost weaponizing it all in a way that will turn your average viewer into a puddle on the floor.
— There is also a chance he blurts out some important Star Wars thing. Like, some word or phrase that ties into the multi-decade universe in a way that winks at the diehard fans and/or advances the plot in some new and unexpected way. The funniest way to do this would be for him to open his mouth and deliver a full paragraph worth of Jedi history with perfect pronunciation and maybe a British accent for some reason. I would probably enjoy that.
— The downside of Baby Yoda talking someday is that it’ll be a lot less fun for the people who write the captions at Disney Plus. These are all from this week’s episode alone. I swear there was a “sputtering” in there, too, but I couldn’t find it the second time through. Maybe I hallucinated it.
— How great would it be if the audience waits seasons and seasons to hear Baby Yoda’s first word, tearing themselves apart over what it might be and how it could affect the story going forward, and then one day, smack in the middle of an episode, he bumps his little floating saucer into a chair and says “Ah, shit.”
This last one would make me happier than any of you can possibly imagine. I don’t think I would ever stop laughing. I’m laughing now just thinking about it. People would lose their minds a little bit. I live for that kind of thing. If you or anyone you know has any kind of influence at LucasFilm, please, I am begging you, pitch this idea. They’ll say no, sure. At first. But be patient. Let them tucker themselves out with all their other serious ideas. Let them spin themselves into indecision by fretting over the pros and cons of the various “real” options. Wait a good week or two. Just sit there and be quiet and nod and sip your coffee. Maybe toss out a pseudo-helpful “That could work” once in a while. And then, with the deadline approaching like a freight train, just when they’re all exhausted and punchy and vulnerable… pitch it again.
For the people.
Let Baby Yoda cuss.
ITEM NUMBER TWO – It is cool that we are trying to do comedy again
This is the red band trailer for a new movie called No Hard Feelings. Please do not click on it if you are in a place where Jennifer Lawrence saying the word “wiener” will get you in trouble, or even if it’ll get you looked at funny by people you don’t want looking at you funny. Because that happens in this trailer. Pretty much right away. Put your headphones in or tell people to mind their own business. Or wave them over and tell them to check it out, too. It looks fun. Here’s the description from the movie’s official website.
On the brink of losing her childhood home, Maddie (Lawrence) discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son, Percy, before he leaves for college. To her surprise, Maddie soon discovers the awkward Percy is no sure thing.
Let’s be clear about what is happening here: This is a silly comedy about a kid’s parents offering Jennifer Lawrence a Buick to sleep with their dorky kid before he zips off to Princeton. That’s… it’s something! I don’t know if it’ll be any good. It could be awful. We’ll have to wait a little while to figure that out. I don’t even care all that much about this aspect of it right now. I just want to point out how cool it is that it exists.
I mean that in two ways, too. The first is the bigger and more obvious one, which is that it’s nice to see Jennifer Lawrence out here doing a full-throated comedy. Jennifer Lawrence is funny! She’s been funny forever! It’s weird that she’s only ever been in serious dramas and action movies, with small exceptions made for the type of winky jokes you’ll sometimes get in an awards-y movie. I’m glad to see her doing this. We need more big movie stars doing big studio comedies.
Which brings me to the other cool thing: We need more big studio comedies, like, period, especially fun little raunchy ones. It feels like we — as a society — have this conversation every 10 years or so. American Pie, Superbad, Easy A, that kind of thing. But any comedy works if we devote the resources to it. This is where I remind everyone that Confess, Fletch was a freaking blast and it’s infuriating that it just got buried on VOD last year. And that Game Night is a fun movie. These kinds of mid-budget gems get lost when everything is sequels and existing IP, which bums me out a little bit. I’m glad we’re trying again. I don’t know how I feel about Matthew Broderick having this haircut, but everything else feels good.
In conclusion, I hope this movie works, in part because I love a good comedy and in part because I want to see more. Thank you.
ITEM NUMBER THREE – I would like to discuss the Keanu fungus
Huge news out of Germany this week. No time for an introduction. Straight to the blockquote.
Upon their discovery that certain bacterial compounds kill fungus, scientists at a German research institute were reminded of lethal action of a Hollywood proportion: specifically, Keanu Reeves in his starring role in the thriller franchise “John Wick.”
The compounds, which the researchers called “keanumycins,” withered away both fungi harmful to plants and humans with deadly precision.
THERE IS A KEANU FUNGUS
ALSO KEANU FUNGUS WOULD BE A GREAT NAME FOR A BAND
OR A DOG
OR A BABY
TELL ME MORE
“The keanumycins create holes in the surface of the pathogen and it ‘bleeds’ to death,” said the study’s lead author, Sebastian Götze, a postdoctorate in paleobiotechnology at the Leibniz Institute.
“Like Keanu Reeves in his many roles as a proficient killer, the newly discovered molecules can also very efficiently, at low concentrations, kill different human fungal pathogens, by riddling them with holes,” he said.
This is… wonderful. It’s honestly just wonderful. I don’t think there’s a better word for it. Scientists found a new kind of fungus that kills things as efficiently as Keanu does in the John Wick movies and they went ahead and named it after him. That’s all just very… yeah, wonderful.
In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I can think of a way to improve on any of this. Maybe… and this is admittedly a long shot… but maybe if Keanu was doing like a Reddit AMA and someone brought it to his attention and he gave some incredibly Keanu response. Like, if he called the scientists “scientist people” or something. But now I’m just being gr-…
It’s so beautiful I might cry.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR – This is hilarious to me
Succession is coming back for a final season later this month, which is both something we talked about last week and something I do not want to think about much more until I have to. I mean, I get it, but it makes me sad. So… let’s move on! To this! The thing where there’s a big huge article out this week — tied loosely to Succession’s return — about how all these rich people shows go to great lengths to make things as accurate as possible. As if I would notice or care. But some people do. I guess! Because these people are really serious about it!
There’s a lot in there about how all these shows — Billions and The White Lotus, too, to cite other examples — source things to make sure everyone is drinking the right wine or wearing the right watch or using the right phrase on the heliport so that real rich people watching at home won’t scoff into their brandy. (Do rich people drink brandy? I honestly have no idea.) I guess it makes enough sense. I have a spinal cord injury and use a wheelchair and it drives me crazy when movies mess up your basic wheelchair stuff, so there’s a degree to which me finding this all silly makes me a hypocrite, but also… come on.
Fanny Pereire, who worked on the pilots for Billions and Succession, has a full-time job securing art for TV and film. Her process starts with a wish list of original works. She then secures single-use permission to feature each piece from the copyright holders, generally by paying out fees to artists or estates. The works shown on-screen are mostly very good official copies of sometimes priceless originals, laser-printed on canvas and touched up by the show’s art department to add brushstroke texture. After shooting wraps, Pereire usually films herself slashing the approved fakes—she’s contractually obligated to destroy or return the works—and sometimes sends them back to the artist in pieces, as proof of destruction.
I’m sorry. I really am. But you can’t just have a woman whose job is to source high-end art for rich people shows and tell me her name is Fanny Periere and expect me to let it go. I’m only so strong.
I’m not that strong.
I’m kind of weak, actually.
But I’m definitely not strong enough to let this go. That much I know for sure. So here we are.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE – WE DID IT
I don’t need a good excuse to post the “Focus Group” sketch from I Think You Should Leave. It’s just really good. I could post it in this column every single week and I don’t think anyone would get mad at me. They might roll their eyes a little, maybe, like “Okay, Brian. We get it. You like the sketch.” But they wouldn’t get mad.
It doesn’t matter at all this week, though, because I do have a good excuse. A real, actual good excuse! The federal government is taking a close look at Tesla for a bunch of reasons, some having to do with the self-driving apparatus causing accidents, and some having to do with… uh…
Earlier Wednesday, the agency posted documents revealing an investigation of steering wheels that can detach from the steering column on as many as 120,000 Model Y SUVs.
THE STEERING WHEEL WHIFFED OFF…
In one complaint filed with NHTSA, an owner said he was driving with his family in Woodbridge, New Jersey, when the steering wheel suddenly came off on Jan. 29, five days after the vehicle was purchased. The owner wrote that he was able to pull toward the road divider. There were no injuries.
… WHILE HE WAS DRIVING.
I know I just did the “block quote a news story and reply with a bunch of capital letters” bit a section or two ago, but I don’t really see how it could have been avoided here. One of the funniest sketches on one of our funniest shows, one with a pretty openly ridiculous premise, wound up kind of predicting an issue that would pop up for a car company owned by the richest man in the world.
In a just society, we would take all of Elon Musk’s money and give it to Tim Robinson. Or me. Either way.
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.
Please tell me you saw the interview with the director of Fast X where he said the title is supposed to be pronounced “Fast Ten” and not “Fast Ex.” I know it makes sense. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it until now. We were so close to getting “FasTen Your Seatbelts” as a title. There’s still time to make it the tagline. Please use your connections to make this happen.
So, a few things here, which I’m going to knock out via bullet point:
- Ryan, it is very sweet of you to assume I have “connections,” but lol
- I had somehow also not considered this, which I feel really stupid about now
- I mean, it’s the tenth movie and X is the Roman numeral for 10, so…
- Like, we see Rocky IV and say it like “Rocky Four”
- In my defense, the titles of these movies have been enough of a mess that it’s not exactly outlandish to assume they would just up and call a movie Fast X but pronounce it Fast Ex
- I need to hear Vin Diesel explain all of this to me
This has been a terrific conversation. Thank you, Ryan.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
An 82-year-old Colorado man was charged Wednesday with selling and trading fake Michael Jordan basketball cards in a scheme that prosecutors said resulted in him making more than $800,000 over four years.
Hmm. Yes, I love him.
Mayo Gilbert McNeil was arrested in Denver, where he lives, after a complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office.
Let’s pause here and make sure we are all on the same page: An 82-year-old man named Mayo was making $200k a year by selling counterfeit Michael Jordan basketball cards to sports memorabilia dorks and the federal government wants to put him in prison for it?
Not if I am on the jury.
McNeil was accused of making numerous fraudulent deals beginning in 2015, including the 2019 sale of a counterfeit card to a victim in Manhasset, New York, for $4,500, and a 2017 deal in which he traded two counterfeit cards for two authentic Tom Brady football cards.
I need one of two things — or both — to happen in the very near future.
ONE: I need someone, maybe FX/Hulu, to make a loosely fictionalized limited series about this, maybe as a season of Fargo or maybe a season of American Crime Story or maybe we just throw a bunch of money at the Justified guys and let them run wild. I can be flexible. A little. I do need it, though.
TWO: A docuseries about all of this where one of the law enforcement talking heads is my beloved Agent Doug from McMillion$. You know he’d love this stuff.
Please. I’ve been very good.
I’ve been kind of good.
In a brief phone call, McNeil said he was released without bail after an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Colorado.
“I did nothing wrong,” he said, declining to comment at length.
TELL ‘EM, MAYO.
TELL ‘EM ALL.