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 will vary, as will 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 — Disaster averted, barely
Watchmen is built on a foundation of altered history. In the series (and the comics the series is based on), Richard Nixon served multiple terms in office like FDR after the United States won the Vietnam War. Robert Redford became president after him and instituted a whole slew of liberal reforms. It’s an interesting premise for a work of fiction and it gets us to an important (kind of) and relevant (kind of!) point: There is an alternate real-life timeline where Watchmen star Regina King got decapitated by Sixers center Joel Embiid.
You remember this happening, yes? You remember when Joel Embiid almost accidentally kicked Regina King’s head off of her shoulders? I hope so. I think about it constantly. Perhaps you will after this, too.
The background is important. In the third quarter of a regular-season game between the New York Knicks and my beloved Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid flung himself into the crowd while trying to save a ball that was bouncing out of bounds. He ended up in the second row, in the lap of a man who had just been on the receiving end of a very large shoe to the sternum. It was fun. Everyone had fun. Everyone was okay. But look closely at what almost happened.
Regina King’s life just flashed before her eyes pic.twitter.com/YPLAwjyR6E
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 14, 2019
Regina King, beloved American actress and current star of Watchmen, came *thisclose* to taking the foot that ended up in that man’s sternum square to the forehead. Seriously, look how close it came. His shoe clipped the bun she had she hair up in. It clipped the bun! If Joel Embiid had been slowed down a tiny bit on the play, or even if he just skipped leg day once or twice in the offseason, he might not have had the lift required to clear her skull. We’re talking inches here. A maximum of four. Four inches from tragedy.
It’s important to note how big Joel Embiid is. Joel Embiid is so big. He’s listed at 7’0, 250 lbs, but if he weighs less than 275 I’ll eat an entire basketball. He moves really well for someone that size, too. He builds up a head of steam. There’s a terrifying amount of momentum involved. Other NBA players — professional athletes, themselves also really, really large humans — usually get out of his way when he’s barreling toward the basket. Regina King is 5’3, according to the Google search I just did. She was sitting down. It would have been a disaster.
It’s also important to note that the Oscars ceremony was held just five weeks after this happened and that Regina King took home the trophy for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. This alternate history I’m discussing, the one where tragedy struck in Madison Square Garden, could have resulted in, among other things, Regina King winning an Oscar and then the presenter saying “Regina King could not be here tonight because she is at home recovering from getting kicked in the head by Joel Embiid at a basketball game.” That’s a lot to think about, you know?
I’m not saying I want to live in this alternate history, for the record. I do not. Regina King is awesome and I do not want bad things to happen to her. But… man. This close.
In conclusion, please watch this video a few dozen times and try to focus on a different thing each time. I like to look at the faces of everyone in the crowd as they realize what is happening. I recommend starting with these two.
I feel you, lady on the left. That is the appropriate reaction to All-Star NBA center Joel Embiid nearly killing Regina King with a flying kung fu kick during a basketball game.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — The discourse has gone off the rails and, frankly, I love it
One thing about me: I love a little chaos. Not too much, not so much that people are throwing flaming trash cans through the windows of department stores, but enough to create a little bedlam. That’s why, I am pleased to report, I absolutely adore this little Filmmakers vs. Marvel mudfight we have going on right now.
You know the outline of it all already, I imagine. Martin Scorsese kicked it off on the Irishman press tour by comparing Marvel movies to amusement park rides. Comics nerds got mad at him, film dorks got mad at them. Then Francis Ford Coppola looked up from his vineyards and swooped in with an utterly delicious and borderline unnecessary take, calling the films “despicable.” Comics nerds got mad, film dorks got mad. A bunch of Marvel-adjacent actors and directors came out with very delicate “I loved Raging Bull and The Godfather, I wish everyone could get along”-type two-steps. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, legitimately one of the most powerful people in the world given Disney’s ridiculous dominance of the modern film market, the man in charge of the people in charge of both Marvel and Star Wars, catapulted himself into the fray, too.
“I reserve the word ‘despicable’ for someone who committed mass murder,” Iger said at the conference. “These are movies.”
He continued, “They want to bitch about movies, it’s certainly their right” before saying he would be happy to put Scorsese and Coppola’s films against MCU movies helmed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther).
And I love it. I love every piece of it. I even love how hopelessly exhausting it is. That’s part of the fun. I hope we keep asking people for their opinions about this until the end of time. Give me a five-paragraph Tarantino answer that namechecks 40 different Spaghetti Westerns that no one has seen. Ask Vin Diesel about it and see how quickly he compares the Fast & Furious franchise to The Godfather. (“Family is everything.”) Find an old woman wearing a dozen or more scarves and ask her to hold a seance to get a quote from Orson Welles. I want everyone squirming and on the record.
Let’s not stop at film people either. Ask people at the next presidential debate. Let’s watch that circus. I mean, if you thought people were mad before, hoo boy. Give me two numbskull pundits shouting over each other about the political ramifications of a candidate saying the Marvel movies are “fun, but fluff.” I won’t watch any of it, not for a single second, not even by accident because I am very vigilant about these things, but I will still be sitting here cackling like a supervillain anyway.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Please control your dogs, Jeremy Irons
John Le Carré — legendary spy novel author, the man responsible for the books that brought us the film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the television adaptions of The Night Manager and Little Drummer Girl — has a new book out. Jeremy Irons is in Watchmen, which, again, premiered this week. That is more than enough of an excuse to share this anecdote from a 2013 profile of Le Carré.
Le Carré likes to hash through actors and their performances. The old spy in him still seeks to size people up, probing for strengths and vulnerabilities. He praises Philip Seymour Hoffman’s “artistic intelligence about his own body.” He recalls opposing Jeremy Irons for the lead role in the 1990 film of his novel “The Russia House” — the part went to Sean Connery — on moral grounds, because of an incident in a London park. “Irons’s vicious dogs,” le Carré said, “attacked my smaller dogs. He never stooped to apologize.” (Irons says that they may have had an altercation but that he does not remember any of the dogs being hurt.)
I’m sure things like this happen all the time in Hollywood. Maybe not the dog-on-dog violence of it all, but definitely the petty and/or personal beefs spilling over into the work. It happens everywhere else in the world. There are million-dollar business mergers tossed in the toilet every year because of Hamptons-related grievances. What I love about this, though, is that Le Carré has held onto it for over 20 years to such a degree that he’s out here bringing it up on the record to reporters from the New York Times when he had zero obligation to do so. He’s just like “Anyway, Jeremy Irons is a weasel who can’t control his dogs” and throwing a fresh tire into a fire that had appeared to be burning out. The Times called Irons for a comment! Imagine getting that call. Imagine a New York Times reporter calling you out of nowhere for a statement about a fight your dogs were in 20 years ago. Imagine the face Jeremy Irons made.
It’s beautiful. Please make a note, entertainment journalists: Always ask your interview subjects if they were ever involved in a dog-related kerfuffle with another celebrity. It won’t always bear fruit. You’ll get a lot of confused looks. But you might also get “I refused to let Jeremy Irons play a part in my movie because his dogs attacked my dogs and he was kind of a jerk about it.” You can’t risk leaving that stone unturned.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — DONUT HEIST
Well, guess what: Somebody stole donuts from the set of Law & Order: SVU. I know this because the police — the real police! — were called about it. Here, look: “Police are responding to a report of a man stealing donuts from a Law & Order shoot (an update incorrectly stating that DVDs were stolen has been corrected here).”
I don’t have much to add here. Some would even say, perhaps, that I just wanted an excuse to type the words “DONUT HEIST” in all-caps and then post this tweet that Ice-T sent out into the world this week.
Just 69 Days left in 2019….. Step the Hustle up! Finish this year strong.💥🤛🏽 pic.twitter.com/mrRXtnsuJY
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) October 24, 2019
An interesting point.
Law & Order: SVU has been on television for almost 20 years. There’s a non-zero chance that they’ve run out of fresh ideas to the degree that they do an episode about stolen donuts at some point. I would very much like to hear Ice-T say “What kind of sick freak steals donuts?” in his voice.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Turns out I’m not done yapping about Joel Embiid and Regina King
I neglected to mention an important aspect of the Embiid-King thing earlier. I did it on purpose because I wanted all of that to sink in before I mentioned the best part. I couldn’t risk this getting glossed over in all the commotion of a giant man almost killing a beloved actress at a Knicks game. I needed it to be addressed separately so it got the attention it deserved. Here goes: You see that hand in the corner? In the bottom-right of the screen? The one I have helpfully highlighted above? That hand belongs to…
Tracy Morgan! Tracy Morgan was sitting two seats away when Joel Embiid almost kicked Regina King’s entire head into the slightly less expensive seats! He started a seated ovation for the guy behind her who took a kick to the sternum and shook it off! Here, watch the video in this link!
How much would you pay to have had Tracy Morgan mic’d up live when this happened? I’ll go as high as $20, personally. Tracy Morgan is hilarious when he’s reacting to perfectly normal situations. He’s funny when he’s not even trying to be, just on account of his voice and speech patterns. Take a few minutes to really wrap your head around his reaction to this scene. Think about him still discussing it in the car ride home. Think about him running into Regina King later this year and bringing it up. (“Hey, Regina King! Regina! I haven’t seen you since that big dude almost took your head off. You look good.”) He’s quite possibly the funniest and most fascinating person possible to be involved in this particular event and he was. He was there. He was right there.
Here’s what I’m getting at: There exists an alternate universe where Joel Embiid decapitated Regina King during a Knicks game and the most reliable eyewitness to the scene was Tracy Morgan. Take some time this weekend to ponder that.
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.
Greetings from South Africa! With Paul Rudd playing two versions of himself in a new Netflix TV series, my question to you is: Which TV shows/movies could be improved with an actor playing two different versions of themselves?
Hmm. Hmmmmm. This is a good question. I love a nice little dual role. JK Simmons did it in Counterpart, too, and that was also great. Hmm.
The trick here is that, if we’re taking a show that already exists and creating a double role for the lead, it has to be a show that features one main lead. No ensembles, not even really a show like Justified, if only because Boyd Crowder was already a kind of bizarro Raylan who never escaped his father’s shadow. The Sopranos is an option, I suppose, but that was already a dual role in a way, just the way Tony flipped from vulnerable to pure rage. This is harder than I expected.
Let’s go with Columbo. This is my choice for three reasons:
- Columbo rules
- It would be fun to see Detective Columbo trying to corner Murderer Columbo, with the two of them both playing dumb in an attempt to lull each other into a place of comfort
- I haven’t posted the picture of Columbo shaking a robot’s hand in a while and now I really want to
I’m gonna do it.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
The brother of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar has threatened to “take down” Elon Musk with a $100 million lawsuit for stealing his plans for a flamethrower, according to a report.
That sentence in some kind of ride. It keeps getting wilder as it progresses, too. I kind of wish it had kept going. Like, “for stealing his plans for a flamethrower that he planned to use to destroy the moon.”
But I’m sure you’re wondering how and why Pablo Escobar’s brother got into the flamethrower business.
He claims the idea of a “toy flamethrower” came from the way the Escobar brothers would burn their mountains of cash to keep warm — insisting that the model being sold by Musk is actually their copyright.
I could kiss this story straight on the mouth.
Musk’s The Boring Company started selling its model last year, calling it Not-a-Flamethrower to overcome customs regulations against transporting flamethrowers. Though the device is not currently for sale, the website claims more than 20,000 have been purchased.
Escobar’s model, meanwhile, is advertised for $249 on a website showing a bikini-clad model using one.
Nothing screams “extremely legit” quite like $250 flamethrowers sold by Pablo Escobar’s brother on a website that features bikini-clad women using them in the same way that he and his notorious brother used them to burn piles of money to stay warm while they were on the run from the Colombian government. I’ll take three. Christmas is right around the corner.
Escobar claims the alleged theft proves that the Tesla founder is even worse than his kingpin brother, whose cartel monopolized the cocaine trade into the US before he was shot dead by officials in 1993.
I hope this goes all the way to the Supreme Court.