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 — Do it, please
The Emmys are this weekend and no one seems to care. That’s the vibe I’ve been getting from the coverage leading up to it, at least. And it’s fine that no one cares, really, because the whole thing is and always has been a little silly. A bunch of famous attractive people get all dressed up and hand each other golden trophies for pretending to be different, sometimes less attractive people and we all sit around and watch it on television. It feels normal to us because we’ve all been doing it for so long, but it’s still kind of weird. This is one of two opinions I have about the 2021 Emmy Awards. The other is that it would be cool if Jean Smart wins two Emmys this weekend.
She has a chance, too, because she’s nominated for two Emmys (a good first step), one for Lead Actress in a Comedy for Hacks and one for Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for Mare of Easttown, which is cool. In fact, let’s pause here. I need you to focus on how cool it is, just for a second. Jean Smart got recognized as the best in her field in two different fields this year. Not many people can do both comedy and drama at a passable level, let alone an award-worthy one. It’s kind of like if a world-famous pastry chef also ran a high-end steakhouse, which is not a perfect analogy but one that gets made when you blog while hungry. It’s close, though. I’ll get a snack soon.
And it’s not just that the shows were different genres that makes this so cool. It’s also that the characters are almost complete opposites as people. In Mare of Easttown, she played a frumpy housewife and grandmother who never left Eastern Pennsylvania and has the accent and Wawa receipts to prove it. In Hacks, she played a glitzy entertainer who rides in helicopters and dines in five-star restaurants and commands every room she’s in. To some degree, I suppose, this is what acting is, inhabiting a role and becoming a different person each time. But in practice, it doesn’t always work out like that. People make entire careers out of playing the same kind of character over and over again. Not Jean Smart. Jean Smart is out here going for it. You have to respect that.
There’s also the thing where actresses of a certain age can run into a wall eventually. They stop getting good juicy characters. They kind of fade away and maybe end up as a cranky nana on a sitcom. That could have happened to Jean Smart. She’s talked about how roles dried up for her a bit after she played an older woman on Fargo. But then she went and landed two whoop-ass roles at once and knocked them both out of the park in the same summer. Her summer. She both earned and deserved it.
That’s all very cool. And it would be cool if we all recognized that. Not just the way I’m doing it here, either, with words. With gold, preferably in trophy form, although handing her gold bars would work, too. It would be so cool if Jean Smart wins two Emmys in the same year for two wildly different roles — one on conventional television, one on streaming, which is a whole other thing — and gives two different acceptance speeches. I bet she’s great at giving acceptance speeches. I would really like to find out.
And if you’re on the fence about all of this, if you’re looking at the other nominees and making cases for each of them in your head, well, that’s fine, I guess, but please stop and consider this next part before you get too far into that process. From an interview with Entertainment Weekly about her role in Hacks:
Did you have to pose for a wax figure for that episode?
That was me.
Wait, that was actually you. It wasn’t a wax figure.
[Shakes head, laughs]
Because that would’ve been a lot of time and money to make that for it to only appear on camera for such a short amount of time.
It’s a very extensive process, and very expensive.
Would you equate that to playing dead?
Yes! That’s really hard. [Laughs] The tough part was, my eyes get really dry so I was like, “Say ‘cut’ the second you can because I gotta blink!” And, of course, I didn’t know what [Hannah] was going to do. She was doing all sorts of crazy stuff right in front of my face, flipping me off and doing cartwheels. [Laughs]
The woman played her own wax figure in Hacks. Show me another actress who did that this year. Show me another one ever. You know what? Screw it, let’s give Jean Smart three Emmys this year. One for each of these roles and a third for… I don’t know. Anything. You pick. Worst case, we give her the first-ever Emmy for Being The Best Lady Around. That would be pretty cool.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Norm
Norm Macdonald died this week. I was shocked and sad when I saw the news and I’m still sad about it now, days later. Norm Macdonald was the best. I can — will, again, many times — lose an hour or two just tumbling down the YouTube rabbit hole of his greatest hits. We compiled a bunch of them here, which is one of those things we probably shouldn’t have waited until his death to do because, again, Norm Macdonald was the best. There is no excuse needed to watch him do work like that, especially not a sad one. The worst part is that I just said a lot of this last week when Michael K. Williams died at 54, which was also shocking and sad. It’s been a weird September.
You probably watched The Moth Joke this week at some point, but I’m sharing it again here anyway. It’s so good, and in so many ways, and it might not even be his best single late-night appearance, for reasons I outlined in this piece from 2016, as well as many other reasons. I won’t argue with you if you have another favorite. This is a guy who once went on television to promote his book and used the time to tell a string of the worst/best old-timey jokes you’ve ever heard. (“Before I met my wife, I was incomplete… [long pause] … now I’m finished.”) A masterclass in bending the audience to you rather than folding yourself in half to please them. Jedi master stuff.
This brings me back to The Moth Joke, though, and why it’s my favorite Norm Macdonald clip and one of my favorite clips ever, anywhere, full-stop. Think about this for a minute. Think about all of it. Think about the joke itself, for sure, from beginning to end, the part where choosing Russian names for the characters somehow makes it funnier by a factor of three or four. Think about how he set it up as something his driver told him, just adding another layer of storytelling that seems pointless but ends up adding depth to it all in a way that almost grounds its nonsense in reality. Think about the way the whole thing built to a punchline that was somehow the most obvious and surprising thing possible. It’s basically perfect.
But think about this, too: He booked a guest appearance on a popular late-night talk show, primo real estate that publicists all over Hollywood would run you over with their cars to get for their clients, and he did… this. He told a long and meandering story about a moth at a doctor, one that kept going about three different times after it looked like it was going to stop, and used all that built-up tension and anticipation to pay it off with “the light was on.” Conan elaborated on it all on his podcast this week, and it’s really worth a listen.
“This has to be understood: he’s doing this on the fly. His way to slow it down, that he came up with on the fly, is that he invents a Chekhov play with Russian names and there’s an ineffable sadness in life weighing on the character’s soul. I’ve never met anybody who would take that chance and make that chance, and I’ll ever meet anybody like him again.”
That’s the other thing. That’s the thing that made Conan so happy. The thing where Norm both understood and did not care one lick about the rules of the game. Look at the twinkle in his eye right before he delivered the punchline. That moment right there was the juice for him, the moment he knew he had everyone leaning one way and was about to hit them with the okie-doke. He was a rascal and he was proud of it.
Rest in peace, Norm.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — The cretins are almost back on our televisions, thank heavens
The second season of Succession ended on October 19, 2019, which is so long ago. It is so, so long ago, a whole presidential election and two pandemics ago. Too long, to put a needle-fine point on it. That’s why it brings me such great pleasure to inform you that the third season finally, at long last, will premiere on October 17, almost two full years later. We did it. We made it. We are so close.
HBO made the announcement this week, and included two little bonuses for all of us sickos
- This official tagline: “Ambushed by his rebellious son Kendall at the end of Season two, Logan Roy begins Season 3 in a perilous position, scrambling to secure familial, political, and financial alliances. Tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle threatens to turn into a family civil war.”
- The official poster I popped at the top of this section
God, I can’t wait. Everyone on this show is so awful and I hate them all so much but I also love them. It’s hard to explain. I love how much I hate them. I want to watch them destroy each other for my enjoyment. I want all of them to go to prison and then get out and then go back to prison again. All of them except, of course, my sweet awkward boy Cousin Greg.
Don’t get me wrong here. He’s awful, too. He’s not confident about it or competent at it, but he’s a little weasel. I know this from two seasons of watching the show, of course, but I think even non-viewers could figure it out just from this new poster. Here, I’ll show you.
That’s the face of a man who can and will flip sides at the first sign of the winds changing. I love him. I hope he ends up running the entire company. I hope he becomes president. And then I hope he goes to prison, too. I know I just said I didn’t want that but then I thought about Greg the Egg navigating a prison yard and I started laughing a lot. It’s out of my hands.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — An absolutely dreadful Holey Moley performance that brought me a lot of joy
This is Emily. She’s a pro golfer who was a contestant on Holey Moley last week, in the final episode before the big season finale. She faced off against another contestant on the windmill hole, which is my favorite hole because people are rarely successful at getting through it unscathed and because the show added fire to it this season for no reason beyond “because we had budget leftover and wanted to light something on fire.” Holey Moley remains America’s finest television program.
Anyway, that’s Emily getting wrecked by the first windmill after hitting a pretty nice putt that got her close to the hole. She was in great position, in part because she’s a professional golfer who can make a short putt, and in part because the second windmill spins slower and most people make it through that one unsc-
That might be the worst attempt I’ve ever seen on any obstacle on this show.
Right in the face.
And her opponent made his next putt so she didn’t even get a chance.
She just hit one putt, got rocked by two windmills, and went home drenched.
There might be a metaphor here but I’m too busy giggling at the GIFs to find it.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I need all of you to see the description of Brendan Fraser’s new show
The bottom line here is that Brendan Fraser rules. He’s ruled for a long time. A movie like Bedazzled has no right being a blast to watch and yet, there it is, still running on TBS on Saturday afternoons and still sucking me in. He starred in a movie with Albert Brooks called The Scout as a baseball phenom whose name was, I swear, Steve Nebraska. He was out of the game for a bit there, but he’s working his way back into it — he was great in Soderbergh’s latest, No Sudden Move — and now he’s going to be in a television show.
Three important facts about this new show:
- It is called Professionals and will air on The CW
- It stars Tom Welling from Smallville
- It sounds awesome
“Professionals” follows Vincent Corbo (Welling), a top-tier security operative, who is paid to protect the interests of rich and powerful clients by any means necessary – legal or not. After a next-gen medical satellite explodes on launch, Corbo is hired by the rocket’s designer – billionaire futurist Peter Swann (Fraser) – who suspects sabotage. Complicating Corbo’s new gig is his former paramour and now Swann’s fiancée, medical visionary Dr. Grace Davila (Anaya), who is racing to help stave off a global catastrophe.
Folks, we got Brendan Fraser as a thinly-fictionalized version of Elon Musk who is out there blowing up rockets and seducing genius doctors who used to smooch the top-tier security operatives who are out to investigate him. It is incredible to me that this show did not air on the USA Network after Burn Notice in like 2009, but at least it exists now. Better late than never. I’m so happy.
But I know. I know you read that and felt like something was missing. I know you’re sitting there right now saying to yourself, “Shouldn’t this show have, like, a rogue CIA… no, a rogue Interpol agent who is hellbent on busting one or both of the main characters for their past sins?”
Ladies and gentlemen, I have terrific news.
As Corbo and his team of veteran security professionals investigate the rocket disaster, they expose a lethal conspiracy of Swann’s corporate rivals, corrupt government officials, and a shadowy crime syndicate – all working to destroy Swann and take control of his tech empire. Worse, Corbo must also contend with a rogue Europol agent (Ken Duken) who is hellbent on busting him for past sins.
I love a good fancy prestige drama. I love Succession, and I ate up The White Lotus, and miss shows like Mad Men and The Americans very much. But I am going to watch this show. I am going to watch every episode. I need it like oxygen. I hope it runs 10 seasons and never gets nominated for an award and gets progressively more bonkers each season. I hope it goes completely off the rails and introduces a new character at some point named, like, Tex Jupiter, and I hope he’s played by Kelsey Grammer. And even if all that happens, I bet the show will still be good and fun, in large part because, once again, Brendan Fraser rules.
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.
Via Twitter user @HooverStreet:
A mailbag question for you that I feel like your answer would be highly insightful:
In the American football world, do we think Ted was an offense or defense coach first and what role did Beard play on his Wichita State staff?
This is something I think about a lot, actually, so I’m glad you asked. Here’s the short version…
I think it worked out kind of the same way it does now. I think Ted handled the structural stuff — the motivation, the broad strokes, the recruiting (Ted Lasso would be so freaking good at recruiting) — and Beard handled the more technical stuff. I bet he also drew up lots of insane trick plays. I bet their teams were a blast to watch.
I kind of wish I could watch them play this Saturday, actually. Their games probably had a wild cult following, with Twitter’s deep bench of college football maniacs live-tweeting every week. It would be fun. The show is good, too. There’s no real bad news here.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
To the Netherlands!
A group of thieves rammed a van into a Dutch toy store and successfully made off with an unspecified number of Lego and Pokémon products.
DUTCH LEGO AND POKÉMON HEIST
“Witnesses saw two men in a white van ram into the shop front,” the press release reads. “Agents immediately went to the shop, and the registration number and description of the van were passed on to surveillance units in the area.”
OH MAN THE DUDES IN THIS VAN MUST HAVE BEEN SCREWED
Police, including a helicopter, chased after a white van only to later find out it was the wrong vehicle. Later in the night, they found the actual suspected van abandoned on a street in The Hague, a nearby city.
THE WRONG VAN
SOME POOR GUY IN A VAN WAS GETTING CHASED BY A HELICOPTER FOR NO REASON
THAT’S A BAD DAY, BUDDY
BUT A GREAT STORY
It is unclear whether the attack has any connection to the so-called “Polish Lego Gang,” a group of international toy thieves who French police have been on the hunt for since 2019. In 2021, two members of the gang were arrested and later told police they were part of a group that specialized in stealing sets that would fetch high prices on the collectors market, according to The Guardian.
POLISH LEGO GANG
MAKE THIS MOVIE
PUT BRENDAN FRASER AND JEAN SMART IN IT
AND PIERCE BROSNAN