TV

The Rundown: Welcome To The Golden Age Of ‘Home Alone’-Related Cameos On Your Favorite TV Shows

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 – I am so proud of everyone here

One of the things we do here at The Rundown is address trends. We’ve done it when one particular actor or actress pops up in a bunch of our favorite shows, we’ve done it when one of our favorite shows has a noticeable uptick in cute doggies on-screen, we did it for wiener hijinks, and we’re doing it again now for an equally important reason: Our favorite shows have been dropping surprise Home Alone cameos on us. I mean, it’s only two shows so far. And the second one wasn’t so much “a cameo” as it was a “hey, that’s the guy who was in the other thing,” but these are mere semantics. Also, I wanted to write about it. So… here we are. I feel great about it.

The first one happened a few months back on The Righteous Gemstones. Baby Billy Freeman — Walton Goggins in terrific sleazy televangelist makeup — travels to reconnect with the son he abandoned in a shopping mall decades earlier. He gets there and rings the doorbell and whooooaaaa it was Macaulay Culkin, right there, standing in front of him. I shouted a little bit. As I did again, later, when Baby Billy asked if there was any way to make things right and his son said he wanted to punch him square in the face and then, well…

MAC
HBO

It’s a good show. And that was a good piece of business. It could have very easily fallen into the trap of stunt casting without the surprisingly real heart that was in the scene. This is how you do it. It helps to end the scene with Kevin McAllister punching Boyd Crowder straight in the kisser. I did not ever expect to see that. It’s good to sit back and appreciate the finer things in life like this sometimes.

Also, and I swear I’ll move on in a second, Baby Billy said this to his estranged son early on in their awkward meeting and it has been living inside a nice little waterfront condo in my brain ever since, with no sign of moving out any time soon.

MAC
HBO
MAC
HBO

Perfect. An excellent job by everyone. And if that had been the only Home Alone-related cameo we saw on television all year, then, like, fine. Worth it. But…

BUT

On the episode of Better Call Saul that aired this week, and I promise I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, the following things happened:

  • Saul, now in the present day as Cinnabon Gene, was hanging with a drunk dude in a bar and singing karaoke and losing bets to him
  • The drunk dude looked a little familiar
  • The drunk dude was played by Devin Ratray, who, many years ago, in Home Alone, played Kevin’s oldest brother and chief tormentor Buzz

Here, look.

saul
AMC

This was also cool. Mostly because I like the part where the child actor who was famous for a small role in a massive movie is still working today and landing gigs in the pivotal closing episodes of one of our best television shows. Good for him. Good for all of us. But mostly good for him.

Anyway, I hope this trend continues. Just litter my favorite television shows with actors who also appeared in Home Alone. It’s probably better to go with some of the lesser-known options, just for the notability of it all, seeing as Catherine O’Hara and Joe Pesci have other roles they’re known for too now and wouldn’t be “Home Alone cameos,” I guess, at least not in the strictest sense of the phrase. Also, Joe Pesci is retired. Which further complicates that one.

Still, if that new Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon can get him for a brief appearance in the premiere, maybe as a king who gets lit up with fire breath after cussing out a huge dragon for… oh, let’s say stepping on his fancy robe and getting it dirty, well… no complaints here.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – The disagreement between Sylvester Stallone and the producers of Rocky, explained, kind of

Sylvester Stallone Rocky IV Dolph Lundgren
MGM/UA

Sylvester Stallone is angry. He is so angry. It’s kind of understandable, too. It turns out that he doesn’t own the vast majority of the rights to the Rocky films, the franchise that started with a script he wrote and led to an actual statue of the fictional boxer being displayed in Philadelphia for a few decades now because… well… that’s just how things go in Philadelphia sometimes. Go Birds.

The main subject of his rage is Irwin Winkler, the longtime producer who holds the rights and is working toward making some kind of Drago-related spinoff, which was set in motion by the events of Creed II. Wait until you see how mad Sly is. Look what he said on his Instagram page, per Variety:

“Another Heartbreaker… Just found this out… ONCE AGAIN , this PATHETIC 94 year old PRODUCER and HIS MORONIC USELESS VULTURE CHILDREN, Charles And David, are once again picking clean THE BONES of another wonderful character I created without even telling me,” Stallone wrote. “I APOLOGIZE to the FANS, I never wanted ROCKY characters to be exploited by these parasites.”

So three things here:

  • The posts — there were a few; again, he was mad — have since been deleted, which is kind of funny
  • Irwin Winkler is 91 years old, not 94, but whatever
  • I’m actually kind of impressed that he got both a “vultures” and a “parasites” in there

I’ll come back to this last thing in a second. But first, we press on.

Stallone also acknowledged his relationship with actor Dolph Lundgren, who portrays Soviet champion boxer Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” and “Creed II.” It is unclear if Lundgren is set to reprise his role in the “Drago” spinoff.

“By the way, I have nothing but respect for Dolph but I wish HE had told me what was going on behind my back,” Stallone concluded. “Keep your REAL friends close.”

“I have nothing but respect for him but he’s a dirty dog who sneaks around behind people’s backs and I hope nothing good ever happens to him again.” It’s beautiful. Even better because Lundgren came out later and was legitimately confused by all of it, as he was barely more in the loop on most of it than Stallone. Really good stuff here, folks. Top to bottom.

Which brings me to my real point here: I just wanted to post my favorite old Stallone tweets. I post these all the time. I don’t even need a reason as good as this one. Or a reason at all. They’re so good. Remember how I said the thing about him getting vultures and parasites into the same rant? Well, here’s Sly going off on the haters and dropping another animal reference.

I love that this is his move. I wonder what other animals he’s used to trash people. I like to picture him at various zoos and aquariums around the country asking very specific questions about which animals have the most nefarious traits. I would watch this as a reality show. I promise I am not joking.

Hey, wanna see some tweets from around the time The Expendables movies were casting where Sylvester Stallone repeatedly asserts that Ryan Seacrest could beat up Jet Li and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme? Let me go ahead and answer that one for you: Yes, you do.

These tweets are over a decade old and the words “ask Steve Austin, he knows” still pop into my head every few weeks. If any of you know Steve Austin, please ask him about these tweets and report back. Send his exact quotes about it to me at brian.grubb@uproxx.com. This is as close as I’ll ever get to doing actual journalism.

In conclusion, here’s what I consider to be history’s greatest and most accurate tweet, one that I would put up there on an artistic hierarchy with the entirety of his work in the Rocky franchise and something no hater/parasite/cockroach/vulture can take away from him.

When you’re right, you’re right.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – Jennifer Coolidge rules

cool
HBO

There was a big profile of Jennifer Coolidge over at Variety this week. That was cool, because Jennifer Coolidge is cool, and it’s cool to see her get some recognition for that. The profile is tied to the second season of The White Lotus, which is on the way and set in Italy, with her character as the only returning member of the cast, kind of like what Knives Out is doing with Daniel Craig, but sillier, which I respect. She’s been around doing great work for decades — Christopher Guest movies, playing Stifler’s mom in American Pie and single-handedly bringing the term “MILF” to the lexicon — but I like that she’s really getting to shine now.

I also like that she’s using basketball analogies to explain it all.

Now, at 60, Coolidge is close to the center of the frame, so much a part of the “White Lotus” phenomenon that she’s the only major cast member to make the jump from Season 1’s Hawaii resort to the show’s next location in Italy — no audition needed. Lodging at the first White Lotus to find comfort after her mother’s death, Tanya alternately sulks and rages, drawing a service worker (played by Natasha Rothwell) into the orbit of her narcissism. Coolidge may be a supporting player, but she’s nobody’s comic relief. Her majestically unhinged performance is like nothing she’s done before, and unlike any experience she’s had on set too. “I feel like the coach asked the other actors to let me dribble the ball more. Give the ball to Jennifer once in a while,” she says. “I get to shoot now.”

Good. Great. Let the Coolidge Era begin. Put her in everything. Get her in The Righteous Gemstones as a rival televangelist. Plop her into the Fast & Furious movies as the president. Have her show up on Hacks as Jean Smart’s long-lost sister. I do not care. Just do it.

Ask her to audition, though. Not because she needs to prove anything to you or me or anyone else, really, just because I want to see what’ll happen after she said this about being asked to audition for the Legally Blonde musical.

“I said to my agent, what do you mean, audition?” she recalls. “It’s not a straight offer?” He reiterated the request: Would she be willing to fly to London to try out for a part she’d already played? “My agent said, ‘I think they just want to see if you can sing and dance.’ Look, if I got up onstage and farted, and that’s all I did, it would still be the lady from the movie!”

The greatest.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – Pizza chat

The Bear
FX on Hulu

We can be quick about this one. It’s pretty straightforward. Jeremy Allen White, star of The Bear, the Hulu series that all your friends have been talking about all summer, the one where he plays a chef at a restaurant in Chicago, was interviewed by InStyle this week. The subject turned to food, as will happen when you star in a show about food or the interviewer is hungry, which led to this exchange about Chicago delicacies.

Chicago-style hotdog or deep-dish pizza? You have to choose one.

Deep-dish pizza is disgusting. That’s the easiest question I’ve ever been asked.

Spoken like a true New Yorker.

It doesn’t make any sense. It’s so doughy. Get it out here. I don’t need it.

So here’s my thing about this: Pizza is good. Almost all pizza is good. Thin crust, thick crust, triangle, square, all of it. Even most bad pizza is kind of good. I’ve pulled two-day-old pizza out of the fridge and eaten it cold as a snack and I would argue that it was better in the moment than what most of you had for dinner last night. Pizza is just good. Some pizza is less good than other pizza, but it’s still pizza. We should all try to remember that in these highly divisive times.

That said, I reserve the right to go on a 30-minute rant about why your local sandwich shop is not actually making a “Philly cheesesteak” correctly. That’s different.

I’m not a hypocrite.

No, YOU shut up.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – I need everyone to think about this for a minute

mission
PARAMOUNT

Let’s set the scene here

A couple was hiking their way up a mountain in Europe with their dog recently when they heard a helicopter approach. They stopped and looked up, as one tends to do when one sees a helicopter approach. The helicopter landed and, yup, our stepped Tom Cruise, who told them he was about to launch himself off the side of that very mountain as part of an action sequence for the next Mission: Impossible movie. We pick up the action here, via The Sun.

But before launching himself from the Cumbrian fell, he paused to say sorry to Sarah and Jason Haygarth, from nearby Penrith, who had reached the 2,440ft summit by foot with their dog, Edward.

Tom, thought to be filming Mission: Impossible 7, yelled: “Sorry for disturbing your peaceful walk with all the noise — I like your dog.”

The thing I like about Tom Cruise is that he’s almost recklessly friendly. He’s a strange man, sure, quite possibly one of the 10 or 20 strangest people alive, but always so, so friendly. I guarantee you would like Tom Cruise if you met him. He would just knock you over with the sheer force of his charm. Guaranteed. Even if you don’t like him now. You can make all the tough claims you want, but you’d walk away going “Wow, what a nice dude.” I know this for certain.

Anyway.

Lettings agent Sarah, 48, replied: “Are you really going to jump off there?”

Smiling Tom nodded and began running towards the edge — shouting: “See you later, folks.”

Perfect. And even better because they had cameras in their telephones and could document all of it. Imagine telling your friend this story like 25 years ago before technology got to the point where everyone could record every second of their lives.

YOU: I met Tom Cruise yesterday.

FRIEND: Where?

YOU: On top of a mountain.

FRIEND: Shut up.

YOU: And he said my dog was cool.

FRIEND: Come on.

YOU: No, I’m serious.

FRIEND: Do you have any proof?

YOU: I couldn’t get any.

FRIEND: Why?

YOU: He jumped off the mountain first.

FRIEND: Okay, I’m leaving.

YOU: What?! It’s true!

Everyone would get so sick of you telling this story and no one would believe it for a second. You would probably lose friends over it. It would be a whole thing. It’s much easier to just snap a picture. The future is weird and scary in a lot of ways but it is nice that we have this. Something to think about over the weekend.

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 Nick:

Need some show recommendations, buddy. You’re my guy on this. You’ve rarely steered me wrong. But with Holey Moley over and Better Call Saul ending soon and most of my other shows on a break, I’m in a rut. Don’t make me sort through 700 options on all the streaming services. Just tell me what to watch. There’s only 30 minutes of What We Do in the Shadows every week. I need advice for couch time.

Hmm. A few things:

  • I love that the two shows you identified here are Holey Moley and Better Call Saul, because it says a lot about what an idiot I am that these two shows could not possibly be more different and yet I love them both equally
  • A lot of people loved Severance on Apple TV, but I tried to get into it three times and could not, which is a good reminder that it’s okay if a show everyone likes just isn’t for you and you don’t have to force it
  • Please do not yell at me

Okay, here are some shows I’ve been watching lately. They’re all half-hours and they’re mostly silly and fun. Part of that is because that’s the kind of mood I’ve been in lately, part is to offset the thing where I’ve been watching Saul and writing 2500 words about it every week, and part is because there are so many good half-hours right now. Away we go.

Harley Quinn (HBO Max) — Delightfully profane cartoon that just started its third season. I’ve written about it before but it is really just a blast, thanks in no small part to Bane being an insecure goof and Commissioner Gordon being a depressed sad sack who plays with the Bat Signal.

The Resort (Peacock) — So it’s a mystery series from the creators of Mr. Robot and Lodge 49 and it stars Cristin Milioti from Palm Springs and William Jackson Harper from The Good Place and it takes place at a fancy Mexican hotel and the whole thing hinges on an old Motorola RAZR that Milioti’s character finds after wiping out on a four-wheeler in the jungle. Good show.

Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu) — A mostly perfect show that just started its second season and already featured a mild stabbing and opened the proceedings up with exactly this.

rez
FX

That’s a good start. And What We Do in the Shadows has been incredible, but you’re already watching that. My favorite thing there has been adolescent Colin Robinson starting like half his sentences with “Hey Laszlo, guess what.” The accuracy is inspiring. I’ve also been watching a lot of old episodes of Hot Ones on YouTube. It’s nice to remember that’s an option if you need to kill 28 minutes. The one I watched this week featured Colin Farrell swearing at chicken wings a little bit. That was good television.

Okay, that’s all I got. Hope this helps.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Japan!

People in a southwestern Japanese city have come under attack from monkeys that are trying to snatch babies, biting and clawing at flesh, and sneaking into nursery schools.

The attacks — on 58 people since July 8 — are getting so bad Yamaguchi city hall hired a special unit to hunt the animals with tranquilizer guns.

Two things are true here:

  • This is terrifying
  • I need a half-hour comedy from Danny McBride where he and Walton Goggins hunt demon monkeys with tranquilizer guns and I need it by next weekend

Moving on.

The monkeys aren’t interested in food, so traps haven’t worked. They have targeted mostly children and the elderly.

Am I the only one seeing the obvious solution here? The one where the elite tranquilizer squad all dresses up like children and old women? How did everyone not jump immediately to that idea? Yes, sure, “have elite commando forces dress up like children and old women” is my solution for everything, but still. It works here.

Come on. Just once. For me.

A woman was assaulted by a monkey while hanging laundry on her veranda. Another victim showed bandaged toes. They were taken aback and frightened by how big and fat the monkeys were.

The monkeys terrorizing the community are Japanese macaque, the kind often pictured peacefully bathing in hot springs.

BIG FAT SPA MONKEYS ON THE WARPATH

DANNY MCBRIDE DRESSED LIKE A GOLDEN GIRL TAKING THEM OUT WITH A SEMI-AUTOMATIC TRANQ GUN

MAKE THE SHOW

MAKE IT

Although Japan is industrialized and urban, a fair portion of land in the archipelago is mountains and forests. Rare attacks on people by a bear, boars or other wildlife have occurred, but generally not by monkeys.

No one seems to know why the attacks have occurred, and where exactly the troop of monkeys came from remains unclear.

“I have never seen anything like this my entire life,” Saito said.

Let me circle back and reiterate the two points I opened with because they are even more relevant now:’

  • This is terrifying
  • I desperately need this television show

Thank you.

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