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
Well, guess what: Shark Week is here. Soon. Not yet. Shark Week is at the end of this month, as it is every summer, and it is loaded with all the shark-related programming you can handle. The Jackass boys are back for another go-round, which is good, because last time they did a Shark Week show a dude named “Poopies” got bit by a shark. There’s a show called “Air Jaws: Top Gun,” which is part of the long tradition of “Air Jaws” programming and is therefore incredible. There’s one called “Pigs vs. Shark,” which sounds like a pretty one-sided contest if they hold it in the ocean, but still. I’ll watch. I doubt anything they can do will top the time Guy Fieri swam with sharks, although there is one show called “Sharks! With Tracy Morgan,” so let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. I already have my DVR set for that one.
The whole thing needs a host, though, and this year those responsibilities will be handled by one Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as he announced, himself, on Twitter.
🦈 BIGGEST WEEK OF TV 🦈
Shot in HAWAII, these beautiful AUMAKUA (gods) are deeply respected in our culture.
(and within my tattoo)
JULY 24th! 🦈 🏝 pic.twitter.com/DSV7KQibjQ
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 11, 2022
And that’s… cool. It’s pretty cool! “The Rock hosting Shark Week” is one of those things that makes so much sense that the biggest surprise is that it hasn’t happened yet. Multiple times. I can see him now, standing on a boat, doing that thing he does where he has a big smile on his face and his arms slightly raised with his palms up as he introduces the home viewers to like a group of sharks that live in an underwater volcano or something. I’m happy. I want to see The Rock talk to a lot of shark scientists. I never knew I wanted that until this week. But here we are. The future is wild.
And yet… I feel unfulfilled. The Rock is a good host. One of the biggest they could realistically hope to land, although I feel like Tom Cruise would probably do it if someone bypassed his management and asked him directly. But I have another idea. I think it’s a good one. Just hear me out…
We should let (or, if necessary, make) Matt Berry host. Am I saying this because What We Do in the Shadows premiered this week and I remembered how much I like seeing him on my television, with all of his mannerisms and his voice and the way he uses all of it to come across as the naughtiest little fully-grown schoolboy in history? Maybe. Probably. Yes. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m correct, though.
Picture Matt Berry on a boat. Picture Matt Berry in a wetsuit swimming with hammerheads. Picture Matt Berry reacting to a great white shark leaping 8-10 feet out of the ocean. Picture Matt Berry talking to various shark experts and learning various shark facts and then making various faces in response to all of them. Tell me this isn’t the most enjoyable damn thing you’ve ever thought of.
Having The Rock there is good. Letting him preside over festivities that include the Jackass guys and Tracy Morgan is inspired. I’m not saying we should scrap any of that business. I’m just saying, going forward, if not next year then one in the near future, we should try to wrangle Matt Berry for this. I think everyone would like it a lot. Thank you.
ITEM NUMBER TWO – A brief note about the Emmys and/or snubs
Emmy nominations were announced this week. You probably knew that. It was all over the news, between the interviews with people who got nominated and the rage about people who didn’t. Everyone gets very mad about that second thing. There are lists and lists about it and they all use the word “snubs” and, like, I get it, but things are just so different now. There are so many shows. No one can watch all of them. There just are not enough hours, and you probably shouldn’t watch that much television even if there were enough hours. The sun is nice. So are books and friends and a lot of things that do not happen in front of a screen.
Point being: It’s not so much that people or shows are getting “snubbed” as it is that people are just trying to pick and choose from the shows they think they’ll like and then talking up the ones that worked out. Which is fine! People are doing the best they can, mostly. It’s just weird that we still try to pick the same number of nominees when we have exponentially more to choose from. I don’t really have a solution to propose here. It’s not like increasing the number of nominees to, say, 20 would make anything less messy. It would probably do the opposite. Everything is a mess. It’s a blast.
And yet, even given that multi-paragraph preamble about how weird this has gotten and how I have no realistic plan to help, I am going to complain about something: Edi Patterson should have been nominated for her work on The Righteous Gemstones. She is so good on that show. She’s probably the best part of it, which is saying something considering the ridiculous amount of talent on the show, from Danny McBride to Walton Goggins to John Goodman, none of whom were nominated either. I’m kind of mad now, after I just got done saying how silly this all was. It’s fine.
Hey, speaking of silly things I’m mad about, do you know who else didn’t get nominated? Jason Mantzoukas. For voicing Tommy Lee’s penis in Pam & Tommy. I need you to understand that I am serious about this. Yes, I’m going to post the screencap again.
Anyway, as I was saying, the Emmys are a stupid sham and everyone involved should feel bad, except me, because I am right and/or doing great. This was a good chat.
ITEM NUMBER THREE – Rest in peace, Tony Sirico
Tony Sirico played Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos and that fact alone should get him into whatever exactly TV Heaven is, which is something I believe and also maybe not the best way to start a discussion about his death this week. I don’t know. Watch that video up there of highlights from “Pine Barrens,” one of the great episodes in history. He was scary and funny and so intense, some of which probably had to do with his well-documented real-life mob ties. I spent about three hours this week just watching clips of him on YouTube. It stinks that he and James Gandolfini are both gone. I’m sad.
The silver lining here is that there was so much good writing about him after his passing. Like, for example, this remembrance from my former colleague Alan Sepinwall, who quite literally wrote the book on the show. This story cracked me up.
There was a time, for instance, late in that first Sopranos season, when the cast gathered for a read-through of the season finale. Among the episode’s many major developments, Paulie and his protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) gun down rival wiseguy Mikey Palmice (Al Sapienza). According to Sopranos creator David Chase, in an interview for the book I co-authored, The Sopranos Sessions, Sapienza “campaigned vigorously to stay on the show” and at the read-through made “some kind of wiseguy comment” that Sirico did not appreciate. Chase, through laughter, said that Sirico mimed finger guns at Sapienza and went, “‘Dat dat dat dat.’ Because he’s the one who kills him!”
And then there was this story from Robert Iler, who played AJ on the show and said all of this to my current colleague Vince Mancini, who quite literally does the podcast on the show.
“Once we did the second or third episode, Tony Sirico just came over to me and said ‘Hey, uh, if anyone ever… bothers you, or anybody says anything, you tell Uncle Tony, okay?’And that’s how I felt in f*cking school too. Like I was 13 years old and I was like oh, this kid thinks he’s gonna mouth off to me? I’ll have Tony Sirico come down. No matter how old you are, you see somebody that has like black hair here, and silver hair on the sides — and just the way he always had a handkerchief in his pocket — you go like this dude will f*ck you up.”
There is, I think, no limit to the number of stories I would read about him. There is also no limit to the number of times I could watch this clip.
thinking about how Paulie pronounced “Baja Fresh” again pic.twitter.com/jmBJoowzEw
— Ryan Perry (@rynprry) February 6, 2021
If you want to have some fun for a few minutes this weekend, picture a conversation at the Pearly Gates between Saint Peter and Paulie Walnuts. Take more than a few minutes. It’ll help dull the bummer edges of the whole thing.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR – This is my new favorite feud
I have terrific news: The guy who directed The Gremlins thinks The Mandalorian straight-up stole the design for Baby Yoda from his movie. And he’s talking about it. In public. To journalists. This is, as of right now, the only thing I care about. Look at this.
Joe Dante isn’t thinking of suing Disney and Lucasfilm. But he believes Gizmo, the fuzzy little star of his two “Gremlins” movies, has been, let’s say, an uncredited inspiration.
“I think the longevity of (the films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” the legendary horror and science fiction filmmaker said with a wry smile, during a video chat ahead of his appearance in San Francisco. “Which brings me, of course, to the subject of Baby Yoda, who is completely stolen and is just out-and-out copied. Shamelessly, I would think.”
This is great. I love it so much. There’s a non-zero chance he was saying this with his tongue in his cheek, I guess, and print is notorious for garbling meaning. But I don’t care. I still love it. And, to be completely fair, he doesn’t exactly not have a point, I suppose. This is what Gizmo looks like.
I mean, it’s close? I can see it? I’m apparently putting question marks at the ends of statements now?
The main thing to take away from all of this is that I do want to see this litigated in court. One with a celebrity judge. Like, I don’t know, Snoop Dogg. And I want charts and experts and very serious men in bow ties making outlandish claims about the angle and floppiness of ears and all of it. Make it a whole season of television. Follow the case over 10 hour-long episodes. It would be riveting.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE – There is controversy afoot
My favorite headline of the week came from The Wrap and read as follows: “Chuck Norris’ Grandson Gets the Boot From Jonas Brothers’ Game Show ‘Claim to Fame’ for Cheating.” Yes. Yes, I will click on that. I will click on it so fast. And I did click on it. Which is how I learned all of this about one Maxwell Norris.
The younger Norris was summarily removed from the Jonas Brothers’ new reality competition series “Claim to Fame” — where mystery contestants try and guess the famous family members of one another — on Monday’s premiere for smuggling a cell phone into the game.
Contestants are banned from using personal cell phones in an attempt to eliminate cheating, yet hosts Kevin Jonas and Frankie Jonas revealed during the first elimination that Norris had done exactly that.
I suppose the inclination is to point at this dude and laugh and have a great old time at his expense, but also, like… good for him. I’m glad he cheated. It’s not like he was stealing nuclear codes or anything. He was trying to win a goofy game show produced by the Jonas Brothers. Everyone should be trying to cheat. I hope the rest of them are, especially after I saw this breathlessly serious quote about it from Kevin Jonas.
“As you know, when you came to the house, we took all your devices to protect your identities, keep away information, to make sure the game was fair to everyone,” said Kevin Jonas. “And one of you has broken that rule. As you guys know, we take this very seriously. We want you to take the game seriously. This is truly a competition.”
I am prone to hyperbole and forgetting things from the past that can refute my own argument but… this might be the stupidest thing I’ve seen all year. I don’t know. I’ll need to look back through the archives later. I’m sure I’m missing something somewhere. But this is definitely up there. I’m actually kind of proud of everyone involved.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.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.
This is one of the best emails I’ve ever received. The subject line was “KATHY” and this was the entire text and it was, I assume, in reference to this thing I wrote on Wednesday about the legitimately incredible season finale of Holey Moley that aired this week. It was one of the most exciting and riveting hours of television I’ve ever seen. A woman won $250,000 after draining three straight holes-in-one on an extreme miniature golf competition that sends its contestants flying through the air on dangerous obstacles and revels in childish humor and featured the actual Muppets this season. It might be my favorite show ever.
Please go watch it. It’s on Hulu. Watch all four seasons if you haven’t. It is so stupid and so fun and you will lose all of your mind when Kathy knocks her ball into Uranus. I was not kidding about the childish humor. Or anything else I’ve typed here. Kathy is our nation’s greatest champion.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A family’s beloved pet cat that’s been dodging airport personnel, airline employees, and animal experts since escaping from a pet carrier at Boston’s Logan International Airport about three weeks ago was finally caught Wednesday.
Two things here: One, I love this cat; two, I need to know its name immediately.
“Whether out of fatigue or hunger we’ll never know, but this morning she finally let herself be caught,” an airport spokesperson said of the cat named Rowdy in a statement.
We are two sentences into this story and I already like Rowdy more than most people I know. Make this into an animated movie at once. Cast Vanessa Bayer as the voice of Rowdy. Put it on Disney Plus this weekend.
Rowdy’s time on the lam began June 24, as Sahli and her husband, Rich, returned to the U.S. from 15 years in Germany with the Army. When their Lufthansa flight landed, the 4-year-old black cat with green eyes escaped her cage, in pursuit of some birds.
Soon Rowdy herself was on the receiving end of a chase, as her getaway set off a massive search involving airport and Lufthansa personnel, construction workers, and animal welfare advocates, as well as the use of wildlife cameras and safe-release traps.
Despite numerous sightings, Rowdy always eluded her pursuers — but now, a little calm has been restored.
This story has everything. A cat named Rowdy who lost her family in an airport after chasing some birds, a harrowing ordeal that lasted weeks, what I’m going to assume were a trio of overweight security guards hopelessly trying to catch her with a big net, and then a happy ending.
Pixar this sucker up immediately.