TV

The Rundown: Stephen Colbert And John Mulaney Did Something Pretty Cool On TV This Week

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 — But seriously…

Something pretty incredible happened on television this week. No, not the thing where 9-1-1: Lonestar started its two-part, two-night series premiere with a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant that was triggered by a flaming burrito. Or the thing where John Malkovich made his official debut on The New Pope as a tremendously emo English aristocrat who wears fancy suits and eyeliner and is so depressed that he just kind of flops from couch to couch in his ornate castle like a child who has been told his trip to the zoo is canceled because he did not do all his chores. Those were incredible, too, for sure, and I will gladly talk with any of you about them if you see me on the street this weekend, but what I’m talking about here is this clip from Wednesday night’s episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

The first half of it or so is pretty straightforward. John Mulaney is there to promote his delightfully weird Netflix special John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch, which stars him and a group of very talented children and Jake Gyllenhaal as an unhinged character named Mr. Music who you must see. But then the interview takes a quick left and Mulaney and Colbert end up talking about their issues with anxiety and how it affects their work.

That’s really cool. And rare. Two people, both of whom are at or near the very top of their profession, chatting for almost 10 minutes, on network television, in a format usually used for quirky stories about vacation snafus or things a more famous person said to one of them, about anxiety and how they deal with it. I don’t know if I’d like to see every interview on every talk show delve into matters of mental health, that might get to be a bit much, but this one was refreshing and fun and enlightening and a nice reminder that everybody has their own stuff going on and it’s okay to talk about it with your friends.

Both parts of the conversation were good, too. Mulaney talked about feeling the need to be on all the time and the pressure to present different versions of yourself to different people in your life and in different situations. Colbert talked about learning to be okay with some people just not liking him because of positions he takes every night on divisive issues, saying that he doesn’t necessarily like it that people out there dislike him, but it’s not a burden he carries around with him. They were discussing flip sides of the same coin, as far as how they internalize other people’s opinions about them, both of which are things that a sizable chunk of people out there watching the conversation could probably relate to.

It was a good thing they did. I’m glad they did it. It’s good to remember that no one has it all together all the time, even if they’re on television telling you a charming story about how the airline lost their luggage and they had to go three days in the Bahamas with only a bathing suit and sunglasses or whatever. Everyone is a little messed up and trying to work through it. That’s okay.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Welcome back, Curb

HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm is back for a 10th season…

HBO

… and you’ll probably hear some people say it’s lost a step from its earliest years…

HBO

… which is not entirely untrue, but…

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… it still cracks me up.

End of section.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Celebrities are weird

Getty Image

Jon Peters (pictured above with a burro, because I have enough free time to really dig through the Getty Images archives) got married to Pamela Anderson this week. It is the fifth marriage for both of them, which is fine and not why the heading of this section is “Celebrities are weird,” although the fact that they have almost a dozen weddings between them leads me to believe they’re getting pretty good at them. No, the reason the heading of this section is “Celebrities are weird” is because this is what Jon Peters said when THR reached him for comment about it.

“There are beautiful girls everywhere. I could have my pick, but — for 35 years — I’ve only wanted Pamela. She makes me wild — in a good way. She inspires me. I protect her and treat her the way she deserves to be treated.”

Well, that’s not what you say! That’s certainly not what you say. Especially the first part. It gets better as he goes along. But it takes a special kind of weirdo to be like, “On this, the day of my wedding, I just want to remind everyone that I could have had any girl I wanted. Any one of them. You, over there. I could have had you. And you, next to her. You, too. Both of you at the same time. But I’m going with this one right here. Cheers.” It’s some extremely Robert Evans sentiment, which makes sense because Jon Peters is a product of the same era.

You’re familiar with Jon Peters, yes? I hope you are. Google him for a few minutes this weekend if you’re not. The short version goes like this: He started out as a hairdresser then became Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser then became involved with Barbra both personally and professionally then got a producer credit on A Star Is Born and then, kapow, he became a big deal producer. The even shorter version goes like this: The 1970s were wild.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Hmm, this all sounds a little familiar. Where else do I know this name from? I feel like there’s a nutty story involving him and Superman and a giant spider somewhere out there,” well, there’s a good reason for this, which is summed up in this paragraph from his Wikipedia page.

In the early 1990s, Peters bought the film rights to the Superman franchise from Warner Bros. In his Q&A/comedy DVD An Evening With Kevin Smith, filmmaker Kevin Smith talked about working for Peters when he was hired to write a script for a new Superman film, which was then called Superman Reborn and later Superman Lives. According to Smith, Peters had expressed disdain for most of Superman’s iconic characteristics by demanding that Superman was never to fly nor appear in his trademark costume. He also suggested Sean Penn for the role based on his performance as a death row inmate in Dead Man Walking, which he said that Penn had the eyes of a “caged animal, a fucking killer.” Peters then demanded that the third act of the film include a fight between Superman and a giant spider, to be unveiled in an homage to King Kong. Peters later produced the 1999 steampunk western action comedy Wild Wild West, the finale of which featured a giant mechanical spider.

The full version of the story, as told by Kevin Smith, is on YouTube (here and here). It’s a good listen. This is what I mean when I said celebrities are weird. And I didn’t even mention the thing where Barbra Streisand, the reason Peters is a celebrity in the first place, once cloned her dog and then penned a first-person essay in the New York Times titled “Why I Cloned My Dog.”

Ah, whoops. It appears I did just mention it. Again. Why, it’s almost like this whole thing was an excuse to bring up the fact that Barbra Streisand cloned her dog and then penned a first-person essay in the New York Times titled “Why I Cloned My Dog.” Like I just love typing that out so much that I’ll find any excuse to do it. Hmm. Yes, it is almost like that.

Congrats to Jon and Pam.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Easy there, champ

Netflix

One thing I like about Netflix is how they’ll store their viewership numbers in an airtight vault at the bottom of the ocean that is only accessible via custom-made submersible and multiple retina scanners (figuratively, probably) but then every now and then they’ll also kick open the door to a coffee shop and shout “83 MILLION PEOPLE WATCHED THE MICHAEL BAY MOVIE” before speeding off in a convertible.

Which brings us to this: According to Netflix, 83 million people watched 6 Underground, the Michael Bay movie.

Michael Bay’s big-budget action pic 6 Underground, starring Ryan Reynolds, was viewed by 83 million member households in its first four weeks on Netflix, the streaming giant said Tuesday in a shareholder letter.

That seems like a lot of people. For context, a little over 100 million people bought tickets to see Titanic in the theaters. I do not think 6 Underground is 80 percent as popular as Titanic. Let’s continue this investigation.

Netflix’s audience metric, which is not verified by a third party, now counts a viewer as someone who watches at least two minutes of a film or show. Previously, it was 70 percent. It still doesn’t count multiple viewers using the same account.

Ahhh. That makes more sense. The old “Two minutes! That counts! You watched it! No take backs!” It’s like one step and a little hop away from counting it as a view when you stop scrolling down the home page for a minute and the trailer starts playing. But whatever, I guess. Good for them. They had to gas up the submersible and go all the way down to that vault to get the numbers, you know? Someone could have gotten hurt.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I appreciate that, even in the chaos of the day, with news coming at us from every direction and an impeachment trial happening during an election year and the world periodically trying to tear itself apart at the seams, Guy Fieri remains committed to posting pictures of notable pop culture figures and/or memes Photoshopped to look like him

No sarcasm here. Very little sarcasm, at most. It’s so goofy and I love it. If you are the person on his social media team who is doing this, know that I appreciate you.

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 last part.

Eric:

You can create one daytime talk show hosted by any person or group of people. It will air immediately after The View and be seen by millions of people. Who are you putting in the host chairs and what are they doing? I’d skip work once in a while to stay home and watch a chat show starring the Wu-Tang Clan.

Well, yeah, so would I, Eric. Who wouldn’t? They already have a pretty good daytime television connection.

But I think my answer would be this: a light chat show, with celebrity guests out there to promote stuff, like a Live With Kelly & Whoever situation, hosted by a peppy young woman (Julianne Hough-type) and acclaimed film director and actor Werner Herzog.

JULIANNE HOUGH-TYPE: Wow, that’s a crazy story about your dog. I can’t believe it.

CELEBRITY: I know. So random.

WERNER HERZOG: If you’ve ever stared into a dog’s eyes you would know that it is incapable of reason let alone the concept of “random.” Everything to an animal is random. They are too dimwitted to understand a pattern.

I would like that.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To South Florida!

If you’re in South Florida, you may have woken up to paralyzed lizards littering your walkway.

I like how this sentence uses “paralyzed lizards” the way other sentences would use “3-5 inches of snow.” Just casually. Oh, yeah, the motionless lizards. That’ll happen.

But please, continue.

Iguanas climb trees at night to roost, Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami, told The New York Times in 2018. But when there are low temperatures, “they literally shut down, and they can no longer hold on to the trees.”

“Which is why you get this phenomenon in South Florida, that it’s raining iguanas,” he said.

Please do picture yourself out for a stroll, minding your business, maybe even whistling a little tune, when, THWAP, a foot-long frozen iguana falls from the heavens and donks you on the head. Imagine explaining that concussion to the nurse in the emergency room. I mean, in an emergency room that’s not in Florida. Those nurses probably would not be surprised, partially because falling iguanas sounds reasonably common down there and partially because, even if it wasn’t, the nurses in a South Florida emergency room have seen things, buddy. You probably couldn’t shock them if you tried, even if the iguana had come down with enough force to penetrate your skull and was still attached to your head.

“Even if they look dead as a doornail — they’re gray and stiff — as soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation,” Mr. Magill said.

I guess the main takeaway here is that South Florida Zombie Iguanas would be a really good name for a minor league baseball team.

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