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The Rundown: The New York Times Profile Of Guy Fieri Is History’s Finest Piece Of Journalism

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 — This is journalism to me

There was a period of time, not that long ago, where everyone was mean to Guy Fieri for no really good reason. Yes, the hair, sure, and the general vibe, fine, crossed with a generally harsher and more judgmental version of the internet — blogs, specifically — created as close to a perfect storm as you’ll ever see. I was as guilty of it as anyone. I don’t think any news story in my online career brought me as much pleasure in the moment as the time a teenage supervillain stole his Lamborghini. I feel conflicted about it. Maybe not the Lamborghini thing. That’s still wild.

The tide is turning, though. It’s been turning for a while. Guy Fieri is being recognized as a wholesome king and good dude by some of the snots like me who once roasted him and by some of the fancy-schmancy types in the food community. This is cool. It’s good to look at things and re-evaluate them and maybe flip your perspective a bit every once in a while. It is now my position that every waiting room should play episodes of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on a loop all day long. I think it would do wonders for the American psyche as a whole. I am serious about this.

Which, among other reasons, is why it brings me such pleasure to direct you to this profile of Guy Fieri in the New York Times by Matt Flegenheimer. It might be the greatest work of journalism I’ve ever seen. Go read it all. I’m going to pull out some highlights, but seriously, go read it all. Because it is barely a paragraph old before it gets to this…

“I want to chug the chutney!” Mr. Fieri said, daring someone to stop him. “One little bump.”

It was 9:33 a.m.

Perfect.

Or this section, in which Guy Fieri explains his theories on cooking and food and how all of it has slowly gained acceptance from the community that once shunned it.

“If you only hear Metallica as a heavy-metal band, then you are not hearing Metallica,” Mr. Fieri said, riding shotgun after a day of filming and charity work. “Now maybe you don’t like that style. But they’re real musicians.”

Not a single note. It reads almost exactly like something you would expect Guy Fieri to say, which is kind of cool. There’s something to be said for being yourself all the time, even when it wasn’t always popular. I respect it a lot. It’s also good that we note the thing in there about charity. Guy Fieri does so much charity work. It’s one of the things that bent his colleagues toward acceptance. Look at these quotes.

“I don’t think he had the respect of people like me or people in the food industry,” said Traci Des Jardins, an acclaimed Bay Area chef who has become a friend. “He has earned that respect.”

“An amazing individual,” said the philanthropic chef José Andrés, recalling how Mr. Fieri churned out plates of turkey for wildfire evacuees in 2018.

That’s cool. Good for Guy Fieri. I love that he’s made an entire career out of highlighting American small businesses and supporting the restaurant industry — literally the people that feed America — and he’s found a way to do it that’s fun and in his own distinctive style. Arguments can be made that he’s done as much for independently-owned restaurants in America as the entire federal government. Again, that’s cool.

Also, he makes paragraphs like these possible.

He can pass hours, by land or fishing boat, reflecting on life and family with a close friend, Rob Van Winkle, whom Mr. Fieri addresses as Ninja and most others know as Vanilla Ice.

“Some of us never grow up,” said Mr. Van Winkle, who attributed Mr. Fieri’s nickname for him to his rap in the 1991 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel, adding that he has been renovating the chef’s new home in Palm Beach County, Fla., a short drive from his own. “When Guy and I are together, we’re like the oldest teenagers in town.”

Okay, stop reading for a second. After this paragraph. Close your eyes. Picture yourself out fishing, early in the morning, dew on the grass in the marsh surrounding the lake, a thin layer of fog lingering on the glassy surface of the water… and then, a few dozen yards away, approaching you, you see Guy Fieri and Vanilla Ice together in a boat.

Think about how you would react to that one.

Be honest.

There’s a non-zero chance you would fall out of the boat.

Right?

Do not lie to me.

Yet the likeliest explanation for his durability, for his heightened esteem among some peers, is deceptively simple.

“He seeks to understand rather than be understood,” Mr. Zimmern said, “which I think is as high a compliment as I can give.”

This is a great quote and a beautiful explanation of why Guy Fieri is still out here doing it, gaining a foothold in the culture, and winning over cynical dweebs across the country. It sums things up almost perfectly.

“Almost” is the key word there, though. It turns out things can be summed up better. I know this because, a little further down the profile, we see this quote from a dude named Jim that, I think, really nails things with a clarity you don’t often get from words on a page.

“He goes to all these diners, drive-ins and dives,” said one fan, Jim McGinnis, 77, explaining the show’s appeal as Mr. Fieri administered handshakes and how-ya-doing-brothers at a charity event for New Jersey veterans. “It’s just a pleasure.”

Zero lies detected anywhere in those statements. Congrats to Guy Fieri. And Jim. Congrats to both of them. I bet they’d get along. They should go fishing with Vanilla Ice and make it a television show. I would watch it. I swear to god I’m not joking.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — LET RITA AND HELEN RACE

Something important happened this week: Rita Moreno, Hollywood legend and freaking EGOT winner, was cast in Fast X, the tenth Fast & Furious movie. As the grandmother of Vin Diesel’s character. This is wild. Imagine going back in time to 2001 and telling someone as they walk out of the theater after seeing the first movie in this franchise that there will be nine more over the next 20 years and that Rita Moreno will end up playing Dominic Toretto’s grandmother. They would think you are insane. And that’s before you tell them any of the other stuff that’s happened in the last 20 years. My point is that having a time machine would be fun.

Anyway, I have one request here and I think it’s pretty reasonable: I want to see Rita Moreno and Helen Mirren race. Against each other. Maybe for pink slips or maybe for pride or maybe just for the love of the game. This could happen. It really could. They are both now members of the Fast & Furious Family. Literally, kind of. Helen Mirren plays the mother of Jason Statham’s character, who tried to kill Dominic Toretto with a bazooka as recently as three movies ago but is now invited to his cookout. These are the best movies.

The nice thing here is that, by explaining all of this again, I have given myself another excuse to post the quotes Helen Mirren gave when she was cast in the eighth Fast & Furious movie but was not given the chance to drive…

“I wanted to be driving, but unfortunately, I’m not,” she says, shrugging. “Maybe that will come in the future, in Fast and Furious 12.” She pauses. “I’m probably one of the few people on the set who know how to drive a gear shift car. I doubt the Rock knows,” she jokes. “But I do. I know how to double declutch.”

… and to post this GIF of her getting to drive in the ninth movie after making that stink and calling out The Rock, which, to be clear, is still deeply funny to me.

f9-helen-drives.gif
Universal

So, yes, please, whoever is reading this and can make it happen or who knows someone and can make it happen or can maybe blackmail someone (just a little) into making it happen, let Rita Moreno race Helen Mirren in Fast X.

For me.

For all of us.

But definitely for me.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — The Mission: Impossible movies must continue, for the people

This is the trailer for the next Mission: Impossible movie, Dead Reckoning — Part One, which is an outrageous thing to title a movie. Or anything else, I guess. But definitely a movie. That’s not really the point, though. There was nowhere to go but down after they came up with Ghost Protocol anyway. Ghost Protocol! I’m still not over that. I suspect I’ll never be over it. It is one of my favorite phrases ever. Someone even said it in the movie. Here, look.

ghost
PARAMOUNT

It must have been so thrilling to deliver that line. I bet people cheered. I bet someone off-camera whispered “yesssss” right away and it was just loud enough that a microphone picked it up and they had to reshoot the scene. I would have absolutely been this person. I should not be allowed on a movie set.

The trailer is awesome, though. Which is not a surprise. The Mission: Impossible movies rarely disappoint. Tom Cruise is about to turn 60 and he’s still out here doing nonsense like this.

mission
PARAMOUNT

Meanwhile, I ate something kind of spicy last week and my stomach hurt for two days. I am conflicted about this. As I am about the thing where the trailer came out this week and the movie does not premiere until next year. Next year is so far away. It’s not fair. Give it to me now. For free. And give me $1,000. I’ll go as low as $850.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Thank you to Sebastian Stan for keeping “Pam & Tommy had a scene where Tommy Lee’s penis spoke to him with the voice of Jason Mantzoukas” in the news

tommy dick
HULU

A good way to tell that there are too many television shows these days is that we are not all sitting around every day talking about the scene in Pam & Tommy where Sebastian Stan, in character as Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, had a conversation with his own penis, which was shown on-screen and was voiced by Jason Mantzoukas. It’s a shame, really. We’re just burning through all kinds of stuff — some legitimately good, some wild, some featuring a talking penis — and none of it is sticking. I hate it.

This is why I’m grateful whenever someone brings it up again. Which Sebastian Stan did. On television. During an interview. The Hollywood Reporter has the quotes.

The actor went on to say that Lee’s 2004 book Tommyland features the rocker’s penis as a character, and so the show’s writers intended the scene as an homage to that choice.

“It’s actually a very sweet scene because it’s a love confession to some extent,” Stan continued. “He’s realizing he’s in love with this woman, and he’s telling his best friend. ‘Don’t let me down, buddy.’”

This is terrific. He said it — and by “it” I am again referring to the thing where he, Sebastian Stan, in character as Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, had a conversation with his own penis, which was shown on-screen and was voiced by Jason Mantzoukas – was “a sweet scene.” And he was kind of right about it, too. There are two primary takeaways from all of this and I think it would be good if we all tried to remember them going forward:

  • It’s good to try to slow down sometimes and let the cool and important stuff sink in so it doesn’t get burned up like rocket fuel as you hurtle yourself through an endless cosmos of content
  • There was a scene in Pam & Tommy where Sebastian Stan in character as Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, had a conversation with his own penis, which was shown on-screen and was voiced by Jason Mantzoukas

I might go carve both of these into the face of a mountain. People need to know.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Paddington gets it

This was a weird and bad week for reasons that do not especially require rehashing here. I am fried and I suspect a lot of you are, too. So… let’s just look at this tweet from my sweet boy Paddington Bear in which he takes the famous Top Gun quote about having a need for speed and substitutes, instead of speed, marmalade sandwiches.

And then let’s look at this tweet by jaythechou — who is doing the Lord’s work on a daily basis — that inserts Paddington into the original Top Gun.

We needed this.

We deserve it.

I want to see Paddington fly a fighter jet.

These are all true statements.

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 up.

From Matt:

Pop quiz, hotshot.

A madman threatens to blow up the moon unless you agree to never use one of the following GIFs ever again: Judith Light doing cocaine at the rodeo or James Wolk slapping a general and shouting “Where’s the sloth?” What do you do? Just let him blow up the moon?

This question cracked me up, mostly because of the general premise of it all. Just the idea that someone is so sick of me posting these GIFs that they’re spending millions of dollars to shoot what I’m assuming is either some sort of rocket or space laser at the moon. I get it, though. I do post them a lot. And I’m going to post them again, now, for context. First, the one from the short-lived Dallas continuation series where Judith Light did a line of cocaine from an ornate box while standing inside an empty rodeo arena…

01-mama.gif
TNT

… and then the one from Zoo where James Wolk backhand-slapped an evil general while demanding to know the location of a sloth whose shrieks were so powerful they could cause earthquakes.

sloth
CBS

Two things are true here:

  • Both of these things actually happened on television
  • I love them both the way a parent loves their children

That said, I’m keeping Judith. It’s just more useful. You can use it to react to all sorts of things. And I do. Friends will text me to ask simple questions — “Do you want to go to Chili’s for dinner on Saturday?” — and I’ll just post that GIF as a response. I bet they groan every time. This makes it funnier to me.

Apologies to James Wolk. But this one was easy.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Germany!

Authorities in the southwest German town of Walldorf have ordered some cat owners to keep their pets indoors until the end of August, to protect a rare bird during its breeding season.

CAT LOCKDOWN

WE HAVE A GERMAN CAT LOCKDOWN

I DID NOT EVER EXPECT TO TYPE THAT SENTENCE

I AM GOING TO TYPE IT AGAIN BUT MAKE IT BOLD THIS TIME

WE HAVE A GERMAN CAT LOCKDOWN

The decree is designed to help save the crested lark, which makes its nest on the ground and is therefore easy prey for feline hunters. The bird’s population in Western Europe has declined sharply in recent decades.

This is incredible. They really want people to keep their cats inside the entire summer to protect some birds. Which, now that I think about it, isn’t that big deal? I don’t know. My family had a cat when I was growing up and he barely ever went outside. You could leave the door wide open and he’d just yawn at it from the floor. His name was Sylvester and I loved him very much. Great dude.

Regional daily Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung reported Wednesday that the head of the local animal protection association plans to take legal steps to challenge the decree.

“Please remain calm,” it quoted him as saying. “I can assure you we’ll do our best to stop this disproportionate measure.”

It says a lot about me as a person and the various personality flaws I possess that I would absolutely, 100 percent, watch a video feed of these legal proceedings. Live. Every day. Lots of you weirdos have been watching the Depp-Heard trial. This is that for me. I hope they call witnesses. I hope one of the witnesses is a cat. I hope the trial becomes a worldwide phenomenon and they end up making a miniseries about it in a few years. I hope the miniseries contains a scene where a bunch of dogs are watching the trial on television and laughing at the cats.

It could happen. You don’t know. Shut up.

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