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 — We are doing this, people
We’ve been going through a heavy scammer period. Lots of shows about scammers, both fictional shows and documentaries. The Dropout, about Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos thing; The Tinder Swindler; Inventing Anna, with Julia Garner as noted fake German heiress Anna Delvey; etc etc etc. Which is fine. I love a good scammer story. I still think about McMillions and my beloved Agent Doug about once a week. But enough is enough. It’s time to focus on something else. It is time, thank the Lord in heaven, for heists.
I love a heist show. I love fictional heist shows and documentaries about heists. This is why it brings me such great pleasure to share this next string of blockquotes with you. We start here, with this press release from the History Channel, for obvious reasons.
Pierce Brosnan is hosting History’s Greatest Heists, going inside the most unbelievable, elaborate real-life heists that have taken place throughout history – from the Wilcox train robbery of 1899 to Boston’s Great Brink robbery in 1950.
The eight-part series comes from Big Fish Entertainment and Anchor Entertainment and will feature “stylized” cinematic recreations and VFX.
Hmm. Yes. This is perfect. Pierce Brosnan is, as I have said many times, sometimes to myself without any prompting whatsoever, the patron saint of heists, so you could not have a better match. I hope he hosts the whole thing in a tuxedo and/or from the deck of a sailboat. I hope he stole the sailboat. You cannot possibly imagine how happy this makes me. Maybe you can. I’ve been talking about it so much. This is my favorite show now.
But I also have a second favorite show. Look at this paragraph from a story in The Daily Beast.
As the streaming landscape has expanded, the race to find new and crazier material for true-crime docuseries has taken off. Bug Out, IMDb TV’s four-part effort (March 4), is certainly a frontrunner in that heated contest, recounting an increasingly unbelievable tale that took place in 2018 at Philadelphia’s Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, an educational museum that was robbed of upwards of $50,000 worth of winged, slithering, and creepy-crawly insects. It was a crime that made local news, and then exploded onto the national scene thanks to a single late-night joke from Jimmy Kimmel, attracting reporters by the dozen and instigating a regional and federal investigation into who could have carried out this most unusual of thefts.
- A massive bug heist
- In Philadelphia
- That became a nationwide phenomenon
You cannot make a show more For Brian than this. Unless Pierce Brosnan hosts this one, too. Or Jason Statham. Or Idris Elba. Or Helen Mirren or Regina King or Guy Fieri. I can be flexible here. This is terrific news.
But two shows is just a coincidence. It takes a third to kick off an official trend. Can we do it? Can we get a third heist-based docuseries announced or premiering in the same week? I suspect you already figured out that the answer is yes, but I suspect you did not figure out that this third show will be titled Holy Heist.
Robbers pull off one of America’s largest and most daring bank heists; police question an unlikely cast of characters, including a cop, a boxer, an IRA soldier and a priest.
Flawless. All of it. Pierce Brosnan and bugs and priests all coming to your — and my — screens, all soon. I have no complaints about any of this. I would be fine if two out of every three shows made we’re about heists. It’s one of the reasons I love Lupin so much. It’s just a fun show — in French, with subtitles, get some culture — about a fancy man who does fancy heists. It’s good. You should watch it. There’s a cool dog.
Oh, yeah, speaking of Lupin, the fictional show about a fictional thief that does fictional heists…
“Lupin,” the hit French heist drama, was itself at the center of a heist last week when about 20 young men wearing balaclavas stole equipment valued at more than $300,000 from the set during filming in a Paris suburb, a Netflix spokeswoman said.
The theft, which was reported by the international news service Agence France-Presse and the French newspaper Le Parisien, came just over a week after more than 200 antique props valued at more than $200,000 were stolen from vehicles during the filming of the fifth season of “The Crown” in England, according to the South Yorkshire Police and Netflix.
Here’s what I need now, preferably by the end of the year but no later than mid-2023: A six-part docuseries, narrated by any of the people whose names I listed up there, about the heist of the stuff from the heist show, possibly tied into the thing where there was also a heist on the set of The Crown last week, which I have already decided — based on exactly zero evidence — is related to this one.
A Netflix heist epidemic.
Put the docuseries about it on Netflix.
Let’s tie this all up in a nice little bow.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — LOOK AT JAKE JOHNSON
You know that thing where you read something — a whole big chunk of text sometimes, but other times just a short phrase — and the collection of words stops you dead in your tracks? It happens to me a lot. It’s going to happen in Item Number Three, too, just as a little teaser. But it’s especially going to happen now, because, like, look at the description for the upcoming HBO Max series Minx.
MINX is set in 1970s Los Angeles and centers around Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), an earnest young feminist who joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson) to create the first erotic magazine for women.
Did you see it? Did you see right there at the end where it said “a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson)”? That is… it’s perfect. Jake Johnson was born to play a low-rent publisher in a 1970s period piece about exotic magazines. Think about it. Think about how good he was in New Girl and then think about how good he will be in this. And then watch that trailer.
Watch it now.
Look at Jake Johnson.
LOOK AT HIM.
LOOK AT THIS SECOND SCREENCAP I MADE.
LOOK AT IT.
This is exciting to me. The week started and was progressing along nicely and I thought for sure nothing would top “Brad Pitt in a bucket hat in the trailer for Bullet Train” and then, pow, here we are. Just a nice little sequence of events.
Although now I want to post the picture of Brad Pitt in a bucket hat, too. Let’s go ahead and do that. Let’s do it all.
I love fashion.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Please tell me everything about the Madonna bootcamp
Here’s what’s happening here: There’s a big Madonna biopic in pre-production. People are very excited. As they should be. It’s time for a Madonna biopic, if you think about it. So many other lesser figures have gotten movies made about them. Madonna deserves this. We deserve this. It’s not the point right now, though. We’ll get to the point right after this blockquote, from the Hollywood Reporter’s story on it all.
At the moment, the biggest role available for some young actresses is one of pop music’s biggest icons: Madonna. Everyone from Emmy winners and Oscar nominees to signers turned actresses has been seen for the role, with some advancing on to what can be best described as a Madonna Bootcamp.
I want to know about the Madonna Bootcamp.
I kind of want to see that show instead of the actual biopic now.
Give Madonna a bullhorn and have her ride around on a horse and shout at people who are dressed in all pink like the video for “Material Girl,” doing push-ups in the mud and everything. Please. For me. I’ve been so good.
Casting director Carmen Cuba is running the search, with the list having been whittled down over the course of several months. Julia Garner and Florence Pugh are among those that are still in the running, along with Euphoria star Alexa Demie, indie regular Odessa Young (Mothering Sunday), and newcomer Emma Laird (Mayor of Kingstown).
It’s really a shame that my brain is still stuck on the “Madonna Bootcamp” of it all because otherwise “Florence Pugh as Madonna” might have sent me to the moon. I’m not even a big Madonna fan. I’m more excited about the idea that this movie might include a scene from the time she went on tour with my beloved Beastie Boys. And that there could be a Beastie Boys biopic someday. Give me 10 episodes and, I don’t know, Timothee Chalamet as Mike D. I don’t ask for much.
But still. Florence Pugh as Madonna. That’s a good piece of business.
According to sources, the hopefuls participate in intense — sometimes up to 11-hour-a-day — choreography sessions with Madonna’s choreographer, after which there are choreography sessions with Madonna, herself. And then there are callbacks, which consist of readings with Madonna, as well as singing auditions with the superstar.
MADONNA YELLING AT HOLLYWOOD STARLETS
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — I love bloopers
Two things are important to note here:
- The Righteous Gemstones ended its very good second season this past Sunday, and I am going to miss it a lot, at least until Barry comes back in April to fill the “good HBO comedy that I love” void in my heart
- I love bloopers
And so, here’s this, a collection of bloopers from the second season. Are the puke bloopers? Is there a bunch of gratuitous swearing? Is it all just a few minutes of wall-to-wall goofs? Friends, you know it is.
It remains my position that every movie, even the serious/sad Oscar movies, should show the bloopers from filming at the end. No more end-credits scenes. Just bloopers. At least five minutes. This is a good idea. Listen to me.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Keep going, Sylvester Stallone
I do not know why Sylvester Stallone woke up one day this week and decided to log into his Instagram account and post a lengthy breakdown of who would win a fight between Rocky and Rambo. I do not particularly care, either. In fact, don’t even tell me if you know. It’s one of those things that can’t possibly be improved by additional information. It’s just perfect and mysterious and we should let it remain that way.
But we should discuss it. Because, I mean… take it away, Sly.
Even I would pay to see this one. If it’s two men meeting in the street and going at each other with no rules I believe the outcome would be,… If the fighters wore to remain upright Rocky would prevail. His body punches and Right Hooks Would eventually beat Rambo…
Everything about this fascinates me already, from the curious punctuation and capitalization to the thing where he gives Rocky the edge because of right hooks even though Rocky — a character Stallone created — famously fights as a southpaw. And it gets better because… Stallone keeps going.
If the fight goes to the ground , Rambo will prevail In a bloody brutal fight to the end. .. rethinking this scenario, I believe that upon initial contact, since they will not be in the rain but fighting outside, basically a street fight, the Rocky will land the first five or six blows. If that does not incapacitate Rambo, which I don’t think he will unless he’s caught clean, Rambo’s skill set will definitely be in full display, , Which means incredibly vicious assaults on the eyes, the throat, every vulnerable part of the body eventually leading to being pulled to the ground and most likely mauled…
“Incredibly vicious assaults on the eyes, the throat, every vulnerable part of the body.”
Sylvester Stallone put so much thought into this. It’s cracking me up. I have this image in my head of him sitting there at his big desk just cranking away on this, going back and forth on it all, sketching it out on paper like it’s a real situation. I hope he turns it into a movie and plays both characters. Present-day. Or CGI’d back into their prime.
I don’t care. I just want it.
Then again Rocky is incredibly resilient and pretty good on the ground too !!! That’s my opinion in this fictional world.
God, I love it. The man lays out a scenario where both guys could win and then throw his hands up in the air like “but who’s to say, really?”
You’re to say!
You’re Sylvester Stallone!
Final result is neither man will ever be the same.
It’s beautiful. I hope he does a full bracket with all of his characters and breaks it down like this. I want to see how he thinks Cobra would do against Rambo next. And all of this reminded me of the time he tweeted this, too…
Why would I put JCVD , and I do like him, in EXPENDABLES when I know SEACREST could destroy the one time great . ASK STEVE AUSTIN, he knows.
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) September 17, 2010
… so, again, perfect. “Ask Steve Austin, he knows” has been living inside my head for a decade now. I’ll never get over it, it looks like. I need to move on. We could be here all day. But someone please ask Steve Austin someday. And let me know what he says. Just show him this tweet and record his reaction. It is very important.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
I just wanted to thank you for the recommendation of Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. That book was great. I’m looking for to the show about it now, too. I can’t wait to see how they bring all of they to life, especially the thing at the end with the, uh, monkey bite.
But now I have two other questions:
What are some other books you recommend?
What are some books you’d like to see turned into television shows?
Paul, thank you. I’m glad you liked Bad Monkey. That book is so silly and twisty and fun, like most Carl Hiaasen books. Bill Lawrence — Scrubs, Ted Lasso, etc. — feels like the right person to adapt it, too. This one is filed under “tentatively very exciting,” especially now that Rob Delaney has been added to the cast.
But anyway, your questions. The nice thing here is that I can answer both questions at once and provide good news on both. Other books I enjoy:
- The Fletch series by Gregory McDonald, which was turned into two Chevy Chase movies in the 1980s
- Anything by Donald Westlake, but especially the Dortmunder series and the Parker series
Which works out well, because one of the Fletch books — Confess, Fletch, one of my favorite in the series — is being filmed as a movie right now, starring John Hamm as Fletch and featuring John Slattery in there, too, for that long overdue Mad Men reunion you didn’t know you needed.
Confess, Fletch sees the journalist become the prime suspect in a murder case while searching for his heiress girlfriend’s stolen art collection. To prove his innocence, he must work his way through a long list of suspects and determine which one is the real culprit — a lineup that includes an eccentric art dealer, a missing playboy, a flamboyant countess, and even Fletch’s girlfriend. Presumably, there will be some hijinks along the way.
And then, just this week, the Parker series got an adaptation, too, helmed by Shane Black — The Nice Guys, watch it — and starring Robert Downey, Jr., who also worked together on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. This is great news. And then you can always go back and rewatch Lodge 49, which was loosely based on another good book, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.
We will circle back to these later. They all look great on paper. Sometimes things that look great on paper don’t work out, though. I will be very upset if that happens here. Surprised, too. These should work out so well.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Authorities in Germany have seized Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s 500-foot megayacht, the Dilbar, as part of the package of sanctions against the Kremlin and its supporters, Forbes magazine reported.
IT IS SEIZURE SEASON
The ship was taken by authorities in the north German port of Hamburg on Wednesday. The megayacht is estimated to be worth $600 million.
God, imagine how thrilling it must be to seize a yacht. Imagine you stroll into work tired and dragging and your boss says “PASADENA…”— your name is Special Agent Randy Pasadena in this hypothetical— “… get in here. We’re seizing a yacht.”
I would never shut up about it. I would show up to career days I wasn’t even invited to and set up my own table and put up a sign that says “ask me about the time I seized a yacht.” Everyone would get so sick of my yacht seizing story and I would not care at all.
Unfortunately, and it pains me deeply to say this, there is bad news. Forbes updated their story a day later. It turns out the yacht was… not seized.
According to the Ministry for Economy and Innovation in the German state of Hamburg, the country’s authorities have not seized the Dilbar, a 512-foot yacht owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. As Forbes reported on Wednesday, work on the ship has been halted at the Hamburg shipyard where it has been stationed for refitting work since October.
Everything is ruined.
I’m going back to bed.
Leave me alone.
The yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned through a holding company, making it difficult to tie directly to Usmanov for the purpose of sanctions. In its statement, the ministry in Hamburg added that restrictions can be imposed on a yacht owned by a sanctioned Russian individual only “if the ownership situation is clearly clarified and all these possessions are also sanctioned.” The ministry confirmed to Forbes that the yacht is still in the dock at the Hamburg shipyards of Blohm+Voss.
Hmm. Actually, wait. There’s a silver lining here. It’s actually pretty funny. What’s essentially happening, if I understand this correctly, is this:
- They can’t seize the yacht because they can’t prove it’s his
- They won’t release the yacht from the dock until someone can prove legitimate ownership
- If he goes to claim it to get it released, then they can go ahead and seize it
So what we have here is…
Not quite as fun as a yacht seizure but still a lot of fun to shout out loud, preferably in public. Do it now, wherever you are. A little treat for you.