TV

The Rundown: The Tale Of Brad Pitt’s Failed French Treasure Hunt Is Better Than Most Television 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 need to know everything about this

There’s a big profile of Brad Pitt over at GQ this week. It’s pretty interesting, as most big fancy magazine profiles tend to be, with Pitt waxing poetic about his career and where it’s been and might be going and all of it. Pitt has always been a fascinating guy. He’s got looks he could have skated by on, and enough charm to make almost anything interesting, but he seemed to enjoy playing against it sometimes. Yes, sure, he’s played the coolest guy in the room plenty of times, and he’s good at it, but he’s also been in, like, Fight Club, and he’s worked with Tarantino a couple of times. He didn’t have to do that. He could have worn a cowboy hat and/or starred in rom-coms for two decades and retired to the beach. It’s probably what I would have done.

But anyway, none of that is really the point. The point is that, at one point in this new profile, Brad Pitt revealed that he spent a not-insignificant amount of time turning his French estate upside down looking for buried treasure. This is… fascinating to me. Both the fact that he did it and the fact that he told a journalist about it while being interviewed for a cover story in a big fancy publication. That’s… yeah, it’s fascinating to me. Here, look at this.

He tells me that he was approached a few years ago by a man who explained to him that the château was supposedly home to another fortune: millions of dollars’ worth of gold that one of the estate’s medieval owners had taken from the Levant during the Crusades and buried on the grounds. “I got obsessed,” Pitt says. “Like for a year, this was all I could think about, just the excitement of it all.” He bought radar equipment and scoured his property. “Maybe it has something to do with where I grew up, because in the Ozark Mountains there were always stories of hidden caches of gold.”

Of course, no treasure was unearthed. Pitt says the man who’d approached him was ultimately seeking money for some kind of radar company; an investment opportunity, he was told. The whole thing went nowhere and Pitt was left feeling a little surprised that he’d let himself believe in the idea. The entire experience was, he says, “pretty foolish in the end. It was just the hunt that was exciting.”

Right. So, here’s my main takeaway from this, and it’s something I have considered for a while: If I had been conned by a French radar charlatan into tearing my beautiful French estate to pieces in a fruitless hunt for buried gold, I would take that information with me to the grave. I would not tell friends or family or anyone, just due to the sheer embarrassment of it all. I might even invent a whole fake cover story to explain why there are a bunch of holes in my property, like maybe something like “we had some cables that needed to be replaced” or “I’m into tunnels now” or almost anything else. I am not proud of this. But it’s true. This is, apparently, one of many differences between me and Hollywood icon Brad Pitt.

The other takeaway I had from all of this is that there are about four different television shows based on this that I would absolutely watch. In no particular order:

  • A true-crime scammer show about a con man flying around the world to trick celebrities into looking for treasure
  • A loosely fictionalized show about an A-list actor discovering millions of dollars worth of treasure on his estate and then fighting off a crew of heavily-armed robbers who want to take it from him
  • A docuseries about Brad Pitt crisscrossing the globe on the hunt for buried gold, like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives but for treasure
  • A docuseries about the freaking radar huckster WHO CONVINCED BRAD PITT TO GO ON A HUNT FOR TREASURE

Especially that last one. Just for the stones on that guy. Imagine waking up in the morning and knowing you’re going to meet famous Hollywood actor Brad Pitt and you’re going to send him on a wild goose chase in the hopes of selling him some radar stuff. Again, it’s all deeply fascinating to me. Every part of it. Including the thing where I just pictured George Clooney’s face when Brad Pitt told him this story. Let’s go ahead and add that to the list, too. A show where George Clooney’s celebrity friends tell him embarrassing stories about themselves. You would watch. Do not lie to me.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Hobbit heist

Two important things are happening here, both of which are just delightful. The first is right up there. It’s the trailer for the upcoming fourth season of What We Do in the Shadows, which is a good show. It is such a good show. One of the best we have, probably. Few television shows commit to that level of silliness on a weekly basis. Remember the Jackie Daytona episode? Remember the thing where Matt Berry said the line “United Kingdom? More like United ding dong”? Remember when Colin Robinson just up and became a baby? Like, an actual baby? It’s all just about perfect and it’s a reminder that you are only limited in life by the furthest reaches of your imagination and it’s coming back soon. This pleases me.

This brings me to the second important thing. Taika Waititi was on Colbert this week to promote Thor: Love and Thunder. While there, he talked about making the original What We Do in the Shadows movie with his longtime collaborator Jemaine Clement a while back. And he told this story. Which is cool.

“When I did What We Do in the Shadows, when Jemaine and I were shooting that, we didn’t have much money to do that film, and The Hobbit had just wrapped. And, so, our production designer — man, I don’t know if I should tell this. OK, but I will — our production designer, in the dead of night, took his crew to The Hobbit studios and stole all of the dismantled, broken-down green screens and took all of the timber, and we built a house.”

To summarize:

  • Stealing helped them make this movie
  • Without this movie, there would not have been the very good What We Do in the Shadows television show
  • Also, Taika might not have gotten a break big enough to land the Marvel gig and turn Thor into a ridiculous comedy

The lesson here is clear: Stealing is good. Tell everyone you know.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – Edi Patterson is so cool

GEMSTONE1 JUDY
HBO

The thing about Edi Patterson is that she’s the best. The Righteous Gemstones is straight-up littered with comedy legends and scene stealers — Danny McBride, Walton Goggins, Adam Devine, freaking John Goodman, etc. — and she routinely eats their lunches right in front of them. It might be my favorite performance on television (like, all of television), just a steamroller of chaos cruising through every scene. That’s not easy to do, either. It’s not easy to pull that off without tipping over into caricature. This is, like, acting.

Which is why it makes me so happy that Vanity Fair wrangled her for an interview as part of their Emmy preview. She should absolutely get nominated for an Emmy. And win one. Or more than one. Give her like six of them and let her carry them out in a big bucket. I will settle for one, though. For now. Anyway, sayeth Edi.

The writing team started work on season three last year. So far Judy is the only member of the immediate Gemstone family who hasn’t either started a cult or been blackmailed by sinister, shadowy figures. Is that in the cards for the next go-round with the family? “Judy and everyone else will be in pickles,” Patterson says wryly. “You can expect every Gemstone, at some point, to be in way over their head. I think it’s just in their DNA.”

I am going to say something here and I need you to know I am incredibly serious: I hope Judy Gemstone runs for Congress. She could absolutely start a cult or get blackmailed, sure, she has that in her arsenal. But I want to see her on a campaign trail and I want to see her in a debate. There’s something above a 100 percent chance she would swear. And break the podium. And maybe spit on someone. I, for one, would love to see it.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – The Mario controversy is fuel to me

Are you aware of the Mario controversy? I really hope you are. I’m going to tell you anyway, so it doesn’t really matter in the long run, but I hope you’ve been living with the same amount of joy I’ve had since I first heard about it a while ago. You deserve nice things. Like, for example, the Mario controversy. Which I will explain to you now. Look at us go.

The short version goes like this: Chris Pratt, a noted not-Italian, was cast as Mario in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. animated movie and he is not going to do the voice. You know the voice. The “ITSA ME, MARIO” voice. Which is hilarious because you have to assume there was A Conversation about it at some point. People probably wore suits and sat in a conference room and debated the pros and cons of having Chris Pratt do a ridiculous Italian accent for the sake of authenticity to the character. I would watch this meeting instead of the movie. I am barely joking.

It gets better. Executives in charge of important things are getting asked about it in interviews. Here is Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri, whose company is bringing Super Mario Bros. to the big screen, being forced to talk about it. Look at this collection of words.

Regarding any upset over casting the non-Italian Chris Pratt as Mario in the upcoming Super Mario Bros Movie, Meledandri asserted: “When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should.” He added, “I’m not sure this is the smartest defense, but as a person who has Italian-American heritage, I feel I can make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian-Americans. … I think we’re going to be just fine.”

Okay, I know what you’re all thinking.

You’re sitting there saying, “Hmm, I bet Brian just wrote this whole section so he could post the video of Lou Albano singing the ‘Do the Mario’ song.”

First of all, how dare you?

I am a serious writer.

I wanted to post that blockquote, too.

I mean, I did really want to post the “Do the Mario” video again.

Like, a lot.

Let’s call it 70-30 in favor of the video.

Maybe 80-20.

I stand by every decision I’ve made here.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – I love Sox

sox
PIXAR

I saw Lightyear last weekend. It was pretty good. Maybe not my favorite Pixar movie ever but still, a solid way to spend two hours on a hot summer day. And the “lesbian kiss” crisis was kind of hilarious — like, sad and upsetting, but also hilarious — because people were clutching their pearls with such fervor that I thought it was going to be like a passionate smooch with tongue and fireworks going off in the background when in reality it was such a tiny little “welcome home, honey” peck that I almost missed it. People really need to relax a lot, both specifically and in general.

But more importantly, and this is cannot be overstated… I love Sox.

A little context will help: Sox is a robot cat and he’s a good boy and… actually, that’s all the context I’m going to provide. Look at him up there. Look at his face. The people at Pixar are diabolical.

This all did raise an important question: If Lightyear is the movie Andy saw that made him want the Buzz Lightyear toy he got in Toy Story, why did he not also want or have a Sox toy, considering Sox is Buzz’s sidekick and is cool and adorable? Thankfully, this has been addressed.

In a press interview for “Lightyear” with director Angus MacLane, producer Galyn Susman, and composer Michael Giacchino, it is jokingly proposed that the creators now need to go back to the original “Toy Story” and add a Sox toy. MacLane plays along with the idea, explaining that the issue may have been that “Andy’s mom couldn’t get it, it was sold out everywhere.”

He continues, “That’s an expensive toy, it would’ve been like Worlds of Wonder or Tiger Electronics, it would’ve been a kind of fancy $70 toy.” He goes on to compare it to his own childhood where he wishes he could have owned an AT-AT toy from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” but wasn’t able to get one.

The next Pixar movie should open with a short about a collection of frazzled parents standing in line outside a local mall on Black Friday, all trying to get a Sox doll or toy, climbing over each other the instant the doors open as the whole scene devolves into a furious dust cloud of limbs and cussing. That would be fun. For me.

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:

Did you see the thing the other week about how Al Pacino wants Timothee Chalamet to play a younger version of his character in Heat in a remake or a prequel? Because I saw that and my first thought was “I need to see Timothee Chalamet yell ‘She’s got a GREAT ASS and you got your head ALL THE WAY UP IT” and then my second thought was “I should email Brian.”

This is a terrific email. Yes, I did see this, and yes, I did have the same thought. Pacino’s character in Heat is so ridiculously grizzled and shouty and late-stage Pacino and the idea of Chalamet doing all of that makes me really happy. I want to see him in all the shouty Pacino roles now. Show me Chalamet doing the “six inches in front of your face” speech from Any Given Sunday. Give me him screaming about flamethrowers in Scent of a Woman. This should be his whole career now. But we definitely start here…

One of the great line deliveries in history. I would watch a reel of every actor in Hollywood giving their interpretation of it. Kieran Culkin could do wonders with it.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Australia!

A Darwin publican has given a crocodile “an almighty smack on the nose” after the reptile upset the pecking order on his island.

Goat Island Lodge owner Kai Hansen used a frying pan to whack the saltwater crocodile named Fred who charged towards him.

A few things here, all of which will, I think, be helpful. The first is that “publican” means pub owner in Australia. I did not know that. It makes it somehow funnier. As does the picture they posted of the guy holding the frying pan he used to bonk the croc, which is the second thing and something you need to see at once. I can’t post it here for copyright reasons but please, click on the link up there as soon as possible.

And once you’re back here, please take a few minutes and think about the thing where the crocodile he hit was named Fred. An Australian bar owner hit a crocodile named Fred with a frying pan. This is news.

Hansen, also known as “King Kai”, lives on the island alongside his beloved pet crocodile Casey.

The reptile entertains visitors on the banks of the Adelaide river.

Sure. Of course.

Hansen added that when Fred moved in, Casey started to climb up onto a walkway near the island’s heliport.

“Now he’s bigger than her and that is a problem,” Hansen said.

Hansen said this forced him to bring out his kitchen utensil shield.

So, to be very clear about all of this: An Australian bar owner hit a crocodile named Fred with a frying pan because it was encroaching on the territory of a second crocodile, named Casey, who the bar owner loves very much and uses to entertain people who line up near the river.

I will be thinking about this a lot in the next few weeks. Maybe every day. A part of me wonders if Fred is plotting revenge. A bigger part of me wonders if there should be a movie about this called Fred’s Revenge. We all have a lot to consider here.

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