TV

The Rundown: Four Potentially Chaotic Things To Watch For At The Super-Weird 2020 Emmys

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 — Honestly, I’m just here for the anarchy

It seems impossible on maybe three or four different levels that the Emmys are this Sunday, but here we are. It’s weird. A few months ago there was nothing going on. Now, baseball, football, and basketball are all happening at once, and there’s an election heating up, and screw it, let’s hand out some television awards, too. It’s madness. It’s chaos. I kind of love it.

I especially kind of love it because this year’s ceremony will be unprecedented in a few ways, starting with the fact that there won’t be a live audience at all, and continuing to the thing where… uh, even the people in charge still don’t know exactly how any of it is going to work. From a report by CNBC:

“It is sort of a logistic nightmare,” Stewart said jokingly, according to media reports. “It’s gonna be great. How could it possibly go wrong?”

The production team as well as Kimmel seem to be taking the possibility of disaster in stride, fully expecting that things will go wrong and they will need to adapt quickly.

It gets even better when you think about the acceptance speeches, which will be broadcast live from the winners’ homes, thanks to a huge complicated production that involved shipping 130 cameras to 10 different countries so every nominee would be ready in case they win, and a Pentagon-like setup inside the Staples Center to monitor it all.

Producer Ian Stewart likened the daunting production process to “trying to watch 130 sports matches at the same time,” during a virtual round table with reporters Wednesday.

Nominees were sent a ring light, a laptop, a boom mic and a camera as part of the package. Winners will give their acceptance speeches and then be transferred over to a virtual press room to conduct quick press conferences with reporters.

I lied earlier. I don’t kind of love it. I completely love it. This is the most excited I’ve been to watch the Emmys since… hmm. I think this actually might be the first time I am excited to watch the Emmys. Look at that. Another precedent broken. It’s just the unknown of it all, the possibility that something could go wildly wrong and throw the whole thing into anarchy. I live for that. That is my favorite thing. Light the building on fire and hold the ceremony inside the flaming auditorium for all I care. Release a tiger. Let’s do it all.

That said, after plenty of thought, I have identified four potentially chaotic situations that could take the night right of its tracks, and I want to see them all.

THE “WE’RE JUST LIKE YOU” CONTEST

Celebrities are, by and large, more attractive and more wealthy than the people watching these shows at home. We love this at award shows, all the glamour and fancy clothes and jewelry that costs more than your car. I suspect we will not like it as much when we see them in their homes, during a pandemic. What I’m saying is that we should be prepared for a ton of Casual Friday-ass outfits and cameras set up in front of the blandest and civilian-looking corners of their beautiful California homes.

I hope one person goes the opposite way and films their acceptance speech wearing a ball gown while drinking champagne on a huge raft in their beautiful swimming pool that overlooks the Pacific. I would honestly respect it.

CHILDREN CRASHING AN ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Basically just this video — one of my favorite things that has ever happened on television — but it’s Ted Danson’s house. Or Cousin Greg’s. Or Cousin Greg accidentally bursting into Ted Danson’s house mid-speech.

BIT CALAMITY

Ugh, so many people are going to try to get very cute with all of this, bit-wise, and most of them are going to be bad. Granted, bits are usually bad in these situations, but they could be extra bad here. My hope is that one of them goes so poorly that someone knocks over the lights or the entire camera and we are left watching a still shot of carpet and feet as people scurry around saying filthy cuss words. I kind of hope it happens to Olivia Colman, not because I bear her any ill-will (quite the opposite!), just because I think she would handle it in a very profane and charming way.

A SUPERVILLAIN HIJACKS THE BROADCAST FROM A HOLLOWED-OUT VOLCANO AND DEMANDS A RANSOM TO RELINQUISH CONTROL

Can’t rule it out. Even better if the supervillain instead demands the Best Actress award be given to Rhea Seehorn, who was somehow not even nominated. Even better if the supervillain is Rhea Seehorn herself, fueled by rage at the snub and ready to exact her revenge.

Can’t rule that out either, I guess. Enjoy the show!

ITEM NUMBER TWO — How far do you think you could throw Baby Yoda?

DISNEY+

The trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian dropped this week, which brings up an important point that I brought up one time in the Uproxx slack and got yelled at about, but will do again here in the interest of, I don’t know, science? Whatever, here goes: How far do you think you could throw Baby Yoda?

Don’t look at me like that. It’s a fair question. He’ll be fine. We can put down a big air mattress in the landing area. And he can probably control his own flight in the air if it gets dicey. I bet he’ll like it, to be honest. He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine.

But seriously, what do you think? There are a bunch of unknowns here that need to be sorted out, I guess. How much does Baby Yoda weigh? Is he a dense little guy? What’s the best way to throw him? Just kind of heave him forward like a chest pass? Or are we thinking this is like an Olympic hammer throw situation?

Like this, but with Baby Yoda.

I know I could not throw Baby Yoda very far because I am disabled (spinal cord injury, wheelchair, etc.), but I’m interested in how far YOU think YOU could throw Baby Yoda. Think about it a lot this weekend. Feel free to email me your estimated distance and reasoning when you figure it out. I am barely joking about this. Sometimes a weird thought gets into my head and I absolutely cannot get it out. This is one of those times. Let’s talk through it.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Some shows I am looking forward to, as of this week, when I first heard about them

Good news and bad news. Bad first: No one is making a show about Korg. Yet. No one is making a show about Korg yet. Someone should, though, because Korg is the best. Maybe you can make a show about Korg. I bet you can do it. You’re smart and funny and ambitious. You could make a good show about Korg, I bet. Think about it.

Good news: I posted the Korg video for two important reasons:

  • I like it a lot and really wanted to post it
  • The man who created and voiced Korg, filmmaker and rascal Taika Waititi, has a new television project in the works at HBO Max

To the trades!

The WarnerMedia-backed streamer has handed out a straight-to-series order to Our Flag Means Death, a period comedy loosely based on the adventures of Stede Bonnet, a pampered aristocrat who abandoned his life of privilege to become a pirate. Created by showrunner David Jenkins, Waititi will exec produce and direct the pilot.

Taika Waititi’s hit rate is absurd, between Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit and What We Do in the Shadows, so it is the official position of this column to get pretty freaking jazzed about any and all upcoming projects he’s involved in, especially if they feature pampered fancy boys named Stede who want to become pirates. Yes, please and thank you. This will do just fine.

And guess what: There’s more good news. Another interesting show was announced this week, this one a completely deranged-sounding project from Steven Conrad, creator of my beloved Patriot, a show I will continue yelling at you to watch even after you’ve watched it. (“Watch it again, then!”)

Back to the trades!

Created by Conrad, the Mega City Smiths story unfolds via the stop-motion animation of baby dolls repurposed as a grown-up cast of characters. The series hinges on an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of fictional metropolis Mega City’s most famous magnate. Two intrepid detectives follow the case, rallying to fight against their city’s dangerous corruption, at a high cost to themselves and their families, all in pursuit of a gentler place to call home.

What a weird sounding show! I am typically very much against creepy dolls masquerading as humans. No thank you to that, I say, occasionally adding a “feh.” But, as with Taika, Conrad gets the benefit of the doubt on this one because of his track record. Because I loved Patriot so much. I’ll watch your nutso dollcop show, you freak! I’ll watch it and I’ll probably love it despite every fiber of my body sounding alarm bells and smashing warning buzzers. I don’t know if I have a higher compliment to give than this. We’re headed towards “okay, fine, I’ll forgive Tarantino his skeezy feet closeups even though feet are revolting” territory here. Huge development.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I’m sorry, but I respect it

There’s a Madonna biopic on the way, which is not a surprise because Madonna has been a huge star and an icon for like four decades now. Any musician with that track record eventually gets a biopic. Those are the rules. Billy Joel will get one someday and your mom will be so excited. No, this is all very normal. Where it gets weird is the second part: The upcoming Madonna biopic will be directed by… Madonna.

In what seems to be an unprecedented creative move, the pop icon will direct a film about her life and career — one that’s been heavily teased on her social media accounts, through script sessions with her Oscar-winning co-writer Diablo Cody.

Please leap past the thing where Madonna is directing her own life story. We’ll loop back around to that, I swear. For now, please focus on this aspect of it all: Picture the actress who eventually gets cast as Madonna taking direction on how to correctly portray Madonna from Madonna herself. I mean, no pressure, but Jesus Christ, you know? I have this image in my brain of, like, Florence Pugh as Madonna trying to work her way through a scene as the real Madonna keeps yelling CUT and saying “Actually, I did it like this.” Poor Florence Pugh. Also, cast Florence Pugh in this. That would be cool.

Anyway, to the “directing your own biopic” thing, before you get all shouty, consider this.

That Madonna, whose staggering five-decade career has seen countless musical reinventions and a run at filmmaking and acting, would direct her own journey from New York City’s slums to the heights of global stardom is beyond rare. The super-famous are often involved peripherally as creative consultants and executive producers in their own adapted stories (like recent awards players like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman”).

At least this way is honest about it. If it sucks, we can point right at the source instead of at some third-party director whose hands were secretly tied behind the scenes. I have thought about this a lot (90 seconds as I’m writing this paragraph), and I have no choice but to respect it just for the sheer audacity of it all. And because it made me picture a version of Walk Hard that was directed by Dewey Cox. So even if nothing else comes from any this, it might give someone fodder for a new biopic satire. That’s not nothing. A Walk Hard or a Popstar only comes along so often. We should appreciate anything that might get us back to that land of plenty.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — The robots are swearing at us

Miramax

I will need more time to wrap my head around the general concept of humans programming robots to cuss at us for our own enjoyment, but while I’m doing that (and it could be weeks), you can think on this: The Samuel L. Jackson app from Alexa is getting an update that will make it five times more profane.

As part of Jackson’s new repertoire on Alexa, if you ask “Hey Samuel, roast me” you will get responses including “Why the f— do you want to be roasted? You really think you can handle that?” and “I’m just gonna ignore that request, because if I really roast you, your sorry ass will be destroyed on impact.”

Again, this is weird, right? Like, it’s cool, in theory, but it’s also weird. Imagine explaining it to someone from the 1970s.

“What’s the future like? Do you guys have robots?”

“Hell yeah. Lots of them.”

“What do they do? Like, make dinner, do laundry, mow the grass, all the stuff we get tired of doing?”

“This one calls you a piece of shit sometimes.”

“… Why?”

“I dunno. We like it?”

Yeah, I’ll need some time with this. Especially because it gets even weirder.

Note that Jackson didn’t need to sit in recording studio to speak the thousands of new phrases for Alexa. His virtual voice is synthesized using Amazon’s Neural Text-to-Speech technology, which replicates speech patterns after being “trained” by a set of a person’s voice recordings.

I want to hate this. I want to hate that we’re training robots to be rude to us using the artificially-generated voices of our most beloved figures. It should be so easy to hate it. The problem is that it kind of fits along perfectly with the best idea I’ve ever had in my entire stupid life.

So, yes. Very conflicted. Will report back.

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 Julie:

I just wanted to thank you for the Ted Lasso recommendation. My husband and son and I watched all the available episodes this week and it was exactly as calming and joyous as you promised. (My son has been running around the house shouting “Danny Rojas! Football is life!” all week.) It was a much needed mental break in the middle of a tornado. Please don’t stop recommending fun, nice shows like this. Especially now.

Julie, do not worry. I will gladly continue recommending shows that are fun and nice, in large part because that’s just about all my brain can handle right now. Dave on FX/Hulu is fun as heck if you like shows that are mostly dick jokes but have heart. What We Do in the Shadows is just silly as all hell. There’s a new season of Big Mouth coming soon and that show is completely nuts and occasionally heartfelt but mostly a crazy goof parade. Joe Pera Talks With You is the nicest show on television and most episodes are like 12 minutes or less. Schitt’s Creek is a delight if you still haven’t seen it yet for some reason.

There you go! Nice shows! Log off and go watch them! Until the middle of November at least.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Canada!

Police in Canada believe a sophisticated network of criminals is targeting transport trucks across the country, after seven hot tubs and C$230,000 (US$175,000) worth of beef were stolen in a brazen daylight theft.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Canadian beef and hot tub heist. I can’t possibly explain how happy this makes me. Beef and hot tubs! Hot tub and beef! Stolen in the same week! In Canada! The same country that famously fell victim to a multimillion-dollar maple syrup heist! What is going on up there?!

The article gets into the specifics, the short version of which goes something like this: Employees at warehouses around Canada have been getting tricked by criminals who show up with fraudulent paperwork and run off with trucks full of stuff — hot tubs, beef, etc. — before the employees realize what happened. Which is interesting, I guess, but it’s mostly just information I needed to give you to put this truly incredible quote in context.

“It’s the first time in my 12 years of policing that I’ve seen this type of thing, certainly this amount of hot tubs or stolen beef,” Cpl Rob Gilles of the RCMP’s Thorsby detachment told the Guardian.

“Certainly this amount of hot tubs or stolen beef.” I love that part of the quote very much because it implies there is an amount of hot tubs and stolen beef that he is accustomed to dealing with. Just not this much. I wonder what the line is. Three stolen hot tubs? Four? I could ask questions about this forever, but I won’t, because the plot is about to thicken.

In both instances, the drivers said they were from the same company and presented forged documents. Police believe the two events are linked, but said the matter was part of an ongoing investigation.

THE BEEF AND HOT TUB HEIST WERE RELATED

POSSIBLY

AND THERE’S AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION

ONGOING

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN

IS THERE A TASK FORCE

CAN I BE ON IT

CAN I BE ON THE BEEF AND JACUZZI HEIST TASK FORCE

CAN I TELL EVERYONE MY NAME IS DETECTIVE BEEF JACUZZI

COME ON

HOLD ON

THERE’S ANOTHER BLOCKQUOTE COMING

Earlier this summer, crab meat valued at more than C$1m was stolen in the province of New Brunswick, according to reporting by the Globe and Mail. In the seafood heist, drivers also used forged transport documents.

I know the most likely explanation here involves selling these things on the black market, but I’m going to go ahead and keep pretending there’s some Canadian maniac — or group of maniacs — planning the most outrageous end of summer cookout in the history of the world. Just dozens of people lounging in hot tubs and gorging on crabs and beef. If we see a story in the next few days about a hijacked Molson truck, we’ll know I’m onto something.

Detective Beef Jacuzzi reporting for duty.

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