TV

The Rundown: The Case For Letting Brian Cox From ‘Succession’ Swear At The Muppets

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 — Listen to me

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I feel like I’m onto something good here, so just hear me out: I want to hear Brian Cox from Succession swear at the Muppets.

My reasoning for this is simple and straightforward: I think it would be funny. Take a second and picture it now. Brian Cox in all his grumbly, growly, Logan Roy glory, as ornery as a grizzly bear, addressing a cheerful Kermit and Fozzie as they run up to him with some cockamamie Muppet scheme or problem, hearing them out and as the veins begin to rise up from inside his temples, and then, when they finally finish… blammo.

logan roy
hbo

Any cuss word will do, I suspect, although the classic Logan Roy EFF OFF would be ideal. And any Muppet will do, too, although the Kermit and Fozzie thing would be best because of their boundless optimism and cheer. Gonzo would also work, just because of the silliness and anarchy he brings to every scene he’s in. I actually started visualizing that as I was typing it, Brian Cox shouting filthy profanity at a fuzzy blue puppet with a long hooked nose, Gonzo freezing and looking into the camera, all of it. I’m laughing now. I kind of can’t stop. I’m going to have to take a break until I stop. I miggt make a typo.

Okay, I’m back. And here’s the thing: This is a good idea. Not every actor plays well off the Muppets. Some people go a little too big, or can’t turn off the voice in their head that’s like “HOLY CRAP I AM TALKING TO KERMIT, THERE’S A GUY RIGHT THERE DOING THE VOICE.” Some of them go too cute. The trick, which I say as someone who has watched many Muppet things many times, is to play it dead serious. This is why Michael Caine was perfect as Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol and it’s why Charles Grodin was even better than perfect in The Great Muppet Caper. Look at a king do work.

muppet-caper-grodin.gif
Disney+

I think Brian Cox has this quality, too. I think it for a handful of reasons, starting with the gravitas and extending to the thing where his children on Succession — especially Roman and Kendall — are basically human Muppets already. This can work. I know it. Let him play a cranky CEO of a company the Muppets work for. Remake A Muppet Christmas Carol with him as Scrooge. Have him show up as Miss Piggy’s wealthy uncle who doesn’t approve of her romantic relationship with a frog. I don’t care. The only important things here are that Brian Cox is on screen with the Muppets and that he swears at them.

I’m aware that this second thing is a break from tradition. The Muppets can skew chaotic at times, teetering toward naughty with little glances straight into the camera to let the adults in the audience know that they grasped the double entendres one of them made. But there’s not, like, actual adult content. There’s not anything above PG happening here. People will be a little mad about it, if there’s cussing in a Muppet movie. I get that. I do. But allow me to present my reasoning in a simple three-part case:

  • It would be hilarious
  • I would like it
  • Just let me have this one thing, Jesus Christ, come on, I don’t ask for much

Think it over, Disney. We can tinker with the age restrictions somehow. It doesn’t even need to be a lot of cussing. I’ll settle for one. I would prefer if there are more, in part because I’d like to hear Miss Piggy cuss back at him, but I’m willing to compromise. Let Brian Cox tell one Muppet to eff off. For me. For us. For the people. I think we all deserve it.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — We’re not so different, you and I

red notice not so different
NETFLIX

Red Notice is not what I would describe as a “good” movie. It’s, like, fine. It’s fine. It’s a perfectly fine, perfectly disposable movie to watch on a Friday night while you’re doing one or two other things. It’s got The Rock and Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot and they’re all wearing fancy clothes in fancy establishments in fancy locations around the world. The last 20ish minutes of the movie is basically wall-to-wall twists. There are so many twists. Too many, some might argue. I will not argue this, though, only because I have other business to get to.

Near the end of the movie, The Rock and Ryan Reynolds sit down for a conversation and The Rock says the two of them are “not that different.” I wish I could have put money on someone saying something like that at some point in the movie. I’ve never seen a movie with more “we’re not so different” energy in my entire life, and I hunt these kinds of movies out on purpose. I literally turned to the person I was watching it with less than 15 minutes into the action and said “Someone is gonna give the ‘not so different’ speech before this ends” and then I whooped and gloated when it happened. I am not a fun person to watch a movie with.

And then, a few days later, it happened again. I was watching the new Bond movie, No Time to Die, with a different person, and James Bond and Evil Rami Malek (whose character almost certainly had a name) sat down for a chat near the end, and I said, excitedly, as I saw what was starting to happen, “THEY’RE NOT SO DIFFERENT.” (Again, you do not want to watch movies with me.) Moments later, Evil Rami Malek said this…

BOND not so different
MGM

Hmm. Not exactly the line, but basically the line. You see this sometimes, where they try to class it up a little with fancy language. My personal favorite is when someone says “we’re two sides of the same coin.” I have been trying to jam this into a conversation organically for well over a decade and it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe one day. Maybe I’ll just say it to the guy who delivers my food tonight, unprompted, as I hand him his tip with an unexplained menace in my eyes. Either way, to my shock and utter delight, after Evil Rami Malek’s little speech, James Bond said this…

BOND not so different
MGM

TWICE

THEY DID IT TWICE

THEY REALLY AREN’T SO DIFFERENT AFTER ALL

The only logical takeaway here is that everyone in Hollywood is making movies specifically tailored to me and my incredibly stupid sensibilities. I appreciate this very much

ITEM NUMBER THREE — I need to see Kristen Stewart’s gay ghost-hunting show

Spencer Kristen Stewart Princess Diana Caro
Neon

Kristen Stewart is out doing press for her new Princess Diana movie, Spencer. This is good news because Kristen Stewart rules. She just sneers and scoffs and screws with people and it’s great. Someone asked her about her Oscar chances and she replied that she didn’t give a shit. She said she wants Guy Fieri to officiate her wedding. She has settled into a nice little groove as a talented rascal and I respect it a lot.

She also, in a big fancy profile at The New Yorker, said this:

In addition to “The Chronology of Water,” Stewart is writing a TV series with Meyer and developing a gay ghost-hunting reality show with a friend, which she has described to me as “a paranormal romp in a queer space,” with elevated aesthetics. “Gay people love pretty things,” she added. “So we are aiming for a richness.”

Two things are undeniably true here: One, I want to watch Kristen Stewart’s gay ghost-hunting show very much; two, there is at least a 40 percent chance this isn’t a real thing and she made it all up to screw with our nation’s most prestigious magazine. Whatever is happening here, I respect it. There are no losers here. Not me, not you, not Kristen Stewart, and not the ghosts, who will either be left alone if it’s a goof or treated to wonderful richness if it’s real. Real win-win on our hands with this one.

I’ll tell you what, man. Between this and the thing where Robert Pattinson blew up his microwave while making pasta during a GQ profile, it seems like the set of Twilight was a fun and chaotic place. Good for all of them.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — It is kind of wild that there wasn’t already a series about the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape, right?

A few things:

  • This is the trailer for the upcoming Hulu limited series Pam & Tommy, about the release of the infamous sex tape featuring Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson
  • I am kind of amazed it took us — like, as a society — this long to make a limited series or movie about all of this, in part because it has everything a flashy limited series needs (sex, crime, fame, rock stars, bombshells, etc.) and in part because every other semi-notable event from the 1990s has already been mined for content
  • It is staggering how much Lily James and Sebastian Stan look like Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, to the degree that it feels like the makeup department should be nominated for a more significant award than just an Emmy, like maybe a Nobel or MacArthur Genius Grant
  • More shows should feature Seth Rogen and Nick Offerman as sleazy dudes with mullets who are organizing a heist

We are absolutely watching this one, folks.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — All Ridley Scott wants to do is make movies and talk shit

Ridley Scott is 1,000 years old (84 next week) and has directed 600 movies (56 according to IMDb, including those in production). He has two out making the rounds now, House of Gucci and The Last Duel, which could not be more different if they tried. He directed Gladiator and Alien and Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise. He has the legacy and bona fides to say pretty much anything he wants to these days, which is good, because the only thing Ridley Scott loves more than making movies at a breakneck pace is talking a lot of shit.

This brings us to an interview he did with Deadline a few days ago. I encourage you to go read the whole thing. It is long and comprehensive and a classic example of a master in his field holding court. I feel like you could learn as much about movie-making in a 20-minute conversation with Ridley Scott as you could in a Master’s program at USC. Maybe more. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about here is Ridley Scott talking shit.

Let’s pull out some highlights, just stripped completely of their context.

So, it’s gone grotesque; it makes no sense whatsoever. They can’t measure their genius by that amount of money. It doesn’t make sense, right? They found a window with a genius item [holds up his cell phone] and I think the fucker who made this has fucked up probably this entire millennium new generation.

Off to a terrific start. It’s important to note here that this isn’t just “old man yells about kids these days.” He’s making a point, more or less, about technology and its effect on society. But mostly I like that he’s roasting a long-dead Steve Jobs. I think Steve would have appreciated it.

I think that’s where we are today because we really want to get on with our lives and do what we need to do, and hopefully, the people we vote for don’t fuck it up, and mostly they do.

Perfect. Excellent. Basically the entire human experience in a single sentence. And it’s here better.

There’s nothing worse than a guy who can’t dance, pretending he can. Nothing worse. There’s no way I will go near a dance floor, and my wife is Costa Rican. What can I tell you? I look like a fucking idiot, right? So, it’s best not to dance.

“So it’s best not to dance.”

I would honestly take an entire philosophy course taught by this man. Again, this is in an interview about some movies he made. I still think you should read the whole thing to see how he got here, but it’s also amazing as a stand-alone life lesson.

Almost always, the best films are driven by the characters, and we’ll come to superheroes after this if you want, because I’ll crush it. I’ll fucking crush it. They’re fucking boring as shit.

There’s a long list of directors who jump at the chance to talk trash about superhero movies when they’re asked about them, but what I love here is that Ridley doesn’t even wait for the question. He’s just spraying bullets willy-nilly at this point. And as he mentions in his next paragraph, Gladiator and Alien and Blade Runner are all, at their heart, superhero movies. It’s not the idea of them that bothers him. It’s what’s being done with them now.

It’s fun to picture him saying this exact quote to, like, the person behind him in line at the bank instead of an entertainment journalist. Just totally out of the blue, like it’s his version of small talk. Which it might be. Take a second and work up that mental image. It’s a delight.

In The Last Duel, there’s no French accent. That would’ve been a disaster, and yet, it’s all French. Who cares? Like, shut the fuck up, then you’ll enjoy the movie.

Ridley Scott, if you are reading this, and I am extremely confident you are not, please start a podcast.

ITEM NUMBER SIX — Look at this freakin’ guy

macys-thanksgiving-baby-yoda-star-wars
Getty Image

Well, guess what: there’s going to be a Baby Yoda balloon at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. As there should be. I know it’s easy to get irony poisoned by the world and start scoffing at things that are honestly pretty blatant attempts by massive conglomerates to sell adorable toys to children, but also, like, chill out. A little. Chill out a little. Be vigilant about the things that matter and keep the people close to you close at all costs but also it’s fine to admit that Baby Yoda is cute as hell and this balloon kind of rules. There are lots of other corporate-ass balloons out there. Snoopy has a balloon. So does Spider-man. Just relax and enjoy. Look at that guy up there. Look at his little face.

Decider went and got the scoop on it all, talking to some of the people involved and everything. I am both glad they did and insanely jealous I did not get the Baby Yoda balloon exclusive. I’m a journalist! Kind of!

Hmm. I appear to have veered off course. Again. Let’s go to the blockquotes

“How do we find something that’s so relevant in pop culture, but also feels like it’s fun?” Mariotti recalled. “And so you start going around and… You’re in the pandemic. There’s not a lot of new… Very little movies, very little new TV shows coming out. And the one piece of content that was kind of like our cowbell for the entire time has been Mandalorian.”

I mean, yeah, that’ll do it. And again, the bigger surprise here is that there hasn’t already been a Baby Yoda balloon. Feels like a no-brainer. I’m glad we’ve righted this historical wrong.

“When I first saw this balloon in person, I saw the feet dangle in the back and I was like, it’s so cute from behind,” Ben Butcher, senior vice president of creative for Funko recalled. “We’re going to win any cute awards for this show.”

I do not think the Cute Awards are a thing but if they are, then yeah, I think this one is pretty much locked up. I’m going to tune in just to see if you can hear the crowd’s audible un-mic’d “awwww” through the television. If this makes me a sap and chump, then fine. I earned this one. I’ll accept it.

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 Amanda:

This is a little off-topic for you, but I know you’ve discussed audiobooks and audiobook narrators in the past, and I was wondering if you have a favorite reader.
My previous champion was Kate Winslet, whose reading of Roald Dahl’s Mathilda should have won her an EGOT (yeah, I know only one of those awards is applicable to audiobooks, but her reading is that good). But I recently started listening to Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins series with my kids, and I have a new champ.

Two of the books we’ve listened to so far are read by Neil Patrick Harris. He is, expectedly, a delight. But today we started listening to his reading of “Henry and Ribsy,” and, about five minutes in, NPH is tasked with singing a dog food jingle.

And he SINGS it. Like, he puts some body into it. It’s goofy and charming and weird and I loved it so much and I am so glad I had kids if for no other reason than to share moments like this with them.

First of all, I love it. It’s a good email. And it’s got useful information in there, too. Be more like Amanda, everyone. More emails like this. About whatever. Let’s get weird.

To answer the question: I do not think I have a single favorite narrator. I think a lot of it is a matter of matching up a person with the right subject matter. Like, Meryl Streep does the audiobook for Heartburn by Nora Ephron and, as you can imagine, it’s pretty much perfect. And I suspect I would listen to any audiobook narrated by John C. Reilly. Imagine him reading… I don’t know… the Harry Potter books. That would be awesome.

To answer your question, though, here are three specific favorites:

  • Barry Bostwick narrating Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen, because that book is a blast and his voice is smoother than glass
  • Dennis Quaid narrating The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, because that books whoops ass and Dennis Quaid has the right “whiskey and unfiltered cigarettes” kind of voice to capture the whole cowboy/spaceman vibes of the earliest astronauts
  • Rosie Perez narrating a chapter of Beastie Boys Book, because, like Neil Patrick Harris, Rosie sells the hell out of that sucker

This was a good chat. Thank you, Amanda.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To France!

Three tonnes of oysters that were ready to be sold have been stolen from a farm on the Île de Ré (Charente-Maritime) in south-west France, amounting to losses of around €20,000.

SACRE BLEU

WE HAVE AN OYSTER HEIST

Oysters are traditionally eaten during Christmas and end-of-year celebrations in France.

CHRISTMAS IS RUINED

Approximately 30,000 tonnes of oysters are produced in Charente-Maritime by a thousand or so small farmers each year, which represents one third of the national production.

I’m just going to say it: I have no grasp of what 30,000 tons of oysters looks like. Like, I have no way to make sense of that figure. It… it seems like a lot of oysters. But I would consider 50 oysters to be a lot of oysters. Really anything over about 35 oysters is just “a lot of oysters” to me. So 30,000 tons of oysters might as well be all of the oysters in the world. I kind of want to see it now. I’m officially curious. If you or anyone you know has the ability to get, say, five tons of oysters in one location, call me. I won’t be weird about it. I just want to look at them.

I don’t know. I guess it’s not all that important considering this next part.

Thefts of the mollusks are common in the area in the run up to Christmas. This is despite the fact that oyster beds are monitored by gendarmes, who use technology such as trackers camouflaged as oysters and drones.

See, this is the thing about reading: Prior to this article, I had no interest in the worldwide oyster market. Now, I might quit my job to write a screenplay about Jason Statham trying to steal thousands of tons of oysters from a heavily-guarded oyster farm — and we are talking lasers and armed goons here, just to be clear — owned by an international oyster tycoon played by Christopher Walken, who, surprise, bankrupted Statham’s father’s small oyster farm decades earlier, sending him into a life of crime. You would watch that movie. Don’t lie to me.

DON’T LIE.

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